Dutton Back in Victory Lane at 5 Flags; 13-Year-Old Takes Control of Trucksadmin
After Many Frustrations, Dutton Back in Victory Lane at 5 Flags; 13-Year-Old Takes Control of Trucks
By Chuck Corder
Stuart Dutton has made the 3½ hour trek from his native Tallahassee to Pensacola for nearly five years now.
The 45-year-old hotshoe pulls through the gates at Five Flags Speedway with winning on his mind. But for all the trips Dutton has made, he had only left Pensacola’s high banks with one win (2018) coming into Friday night.
Dutton doubled his career victory total at the famed half-mile asphalt oval on Friday by taking charge of the Faith Chapel Outlaws 17-car field and dominating the second half of the 35-lap feature.
“It’s just nice to finally finish one here,” Dutton said. “We had a stretch of bad luck, but hopefully we can get us a few more wins the rest of the year.”
Young Timothy Watson turned heads with a runner-up finish and Jake Finch rebounded in third after a disappointing result earlier this month at Five Flags.
Dutton started fourth and quickly climbed toward early leader Bubba Winslow – last year’s Outlaws track champion – in the opening 10 laps. Dutton slid under Winslow on Lap 15 and withstood one caution before expanding his lead to 1.6 seconds and the convincing victory.
Some of the best edge-of-your-seat racing on the oval Friday took place between Watson and Finch. The two Panhandle teenagers mixed it up for the second position in the closing laps. Watson, a former Legends champion from Panama City, took the spot from Finch, of neighboring Lynn Haven, on Lap 27 and held on for the final eight laps.
Proxy Equipment Pro Trucks
It will be 2024 when Gavin Graham can drive legally in the State of Florida.
Luckily, the 13-year-old Lakeland native is already getting a steady diet of asphalt as one of short-track racing’s new wunderkinds. Graham is guiding the same Curt Britt truck that Grant Thompson drove to a track championship last year at Five Flags Speedway.
The curly-haired Graham took his first step Friday night in potentially following in Thompson’s footsteps. The teenager notched his first career Proxy Equipment Pro Trucks victory at Five Flags, capturing the 30-lap feature. His impressive brand of racing balanced patience with perseverance.
“I was just trying to take care of the car, take care of the tires, and not mess up anybody or ourselves,” Graham said through a mouthful of braces. “I can’t thank Curt Britt and my sponsors enough. They’ve helped me so much to get this No. 38 into Victory Lane.”
Pensacola’s Logan Boyett and Jason Kimball rounded out the podium in second and third, respectively.
Graham started sixth, gradually making his way toward the front before he swiped the lead from Kimball on Lap 20. Graham deftly worked his way through lapped traffic in the closing laps to secure a comfortable win.
The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen
Brannon Fowler’s night began with a near disaster. It ended with another dominant triumph.
After barely avoiding a crash during the heat races earlier Friday night at Five Flags Speedway, Fowler recovered in The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen 25-lap feature to collect his second consecutive checkered flag.
Fowler took pole sitter Daryl McDonald III to school on the opening lap, passing the rookie Sportsmen driver on the high side coming out of Turn No. 4. Fowler opened a massive cushion and didn’t break a sweat en route to Victory Lane.
“We had a little mishap to start the heat race. Brushed the wall a little bit,” Fowler explained. “But with (my team) lending a hand, we got this thing straightened out. It’s all a testament to the guys I have.”
McDonald, the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks track champion at Five Flags from a year ago, grabbed runner-up honors for his best Sportsmen performance to date. Jim Pokrant continued his steady pace and rounded out the podium.
Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks
Cameron Leytham was already tough to beat this season at Five Flags Speedway.
He made it near impossible on the field Friday night when Leytham had his good luck charm close by.
Leytham’s baby girl, Ava, rolled a “1” to keep her daddy on the pole and then he dominated the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks 20 lapper for his third consecutive feature win. Three in a row means Leytham will now have a $250 bounty placed on him for next Friday’s feature.
“I guess luck runs in the family,” Leytham said. “We’ve got a lotta good competition out here, so I don’t know how long it will last. It’s a lotta luck and we have a good setup we hit on. Darryl Jackson sets this thing up and it’s a monster.”