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12/3/2011

12/3/2011

Five Flags Speedway


Baker Bides Time, Makes Strong Late Push to Pull Off Super Stocks Snowball Derby Title

Chuck Corder

Steam billowing off a head full of perspiration, Regan Baker breathed a long sigh of relief.

So good in qualifying for the Super Stocks Snowball Derby on Friday, Baker surrendered his lead and slipped as low as fourth throughout the 50 lapper.

Turns out, he was just lying in the weeds, ready to pounce.

Baker, 45, got back out front in the final 10 laps and withstood a late rally from Bubba Winslow to write his name in the Derby record books.

“That was on purpose,� Baker said of his winning strategy. “This track is very aggressive on tires. I knew if I didn’t conserve for something at the end, my night would be done.�

Instead his night ended just as well as it began.

Baker topped his own track record in time trials with a blazing 18.733-second circuit. He was almost a full tenth of a second faster than Jessie Reid, who started second in the 23-car field.

Baker, though, yielded his position to Paul Jean and the Cordova, Ala., drive appeared to have the car to beat except for one important exception.

Jean was absolutely horrific on restarts. He eventually finished third, but spun tires and a possible clutch issue certainly cost him his shot at glory.

Jean’s woes opened the door for Baker.

“I got pretty good aggressive on the restarts,� Baker said. “That second-to-last restart, I knew I had to get to the front. I decided to put the hammer down.�

There several cautions in the final laps, including a scary sequence with 40 complete. Initially, hearts raced when a fire spread on the back straightaway, surrounding Joe Mahuron’s No. 84.

While track officials were extinguishing those flames, emergency medical personnel were called for the second consecutive night for a spectator in the infield.

After the long delay, Baker certainly seemed to be the fastest car once again on the track. With Jean’s miserable restarts, it was Baker’s recipe for Derby success.

His only problem was keeping Winslow at bay. The young, newlywed collected his second runner-up finish in as many nights. Winslow came up just short against Steve Buttrick in the Sportsmen Derby on Thursday.

“We had a really good car tonight,� Winslow said. “I gotta thank my team. If we could work on our qualifying, I might get to lead one of these things wire to wire.�

Baker paid great respect to his rival.

“That (No.) 44 was tough all night,� he said.

Fortunately, for him, though, Baker was a bit tougher.

Super Stocks Snowball Derby 50 Lapper—1. Regan Baker, 2. Bubba Winslow, 3. Paul Jean, 4. Jessie Reid, 5. Darryl Rudd, 6. Cameron Henderson, 7. Mike Moore, 8. Randy Thompson, 9. Shannon Jackson, 10. Cory Jones, 11. Dennis Thomas, 12. Steve Buttrick, 13. Johnny Greene Jr., 14. Jeremy Tassin, 15. Charlie Skipper, 16. Josh Wise, 17. Darin Matthews, 18. Joe Mahuron, 19. James Alonzo, 20. Eddie Hamrac, 21. Okie Mason, 22. Jeff Pressott, 23. Don McCay, 24. Chris Vallett

 

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