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Christensen Christens PLM Slate with 1st Win; 2 Others Get 1st Wins at 5 Flags
363
4/6/2024

4/6/2024

Five Flags Speedway


Christensen Christens PLM Slate with 1st Win; 2 Others Get 1st Wins at 5 Flags

Christensen Christens PLM Slate with 1st Win; 2 Others Get 1st Wins at 5 Flags

By Chuck Corder
5flagsspeedway.com reporter

Seth Christensen might be just 16, but the Pendergrass, Ga., driver is an old soul.
He knows racing history and understood the importance of the feat he accomplished Friday night at Five Flags Speedway.
Christensen etched his name into the famed half-mile oval’s asphalt thanks to a dominating performance in capturing the opening Allen Turner Hyundai Pro Late Model 100 of 2024.
“Man, I’m so happy. What a race!” the youngster exclaimed. “The team did a phenomenal job. The guys put in 110 percent day in and day out, working on this car and getting it ready.”
Christensen set a blistering pace in qualifying (16.519 seconds) and backed it up by leading the final 67 laps after starting sixth because of an invert. He refused to let his cage get rattled despite the onslaught of three-time Snowflake 100 winner Augie Grill breathing down his neck throughout Friday.

Grill finished second, his best performance in a Late Model at Five Flags in several years.
“I didn’t think they were that much better than us,” Grill said of Christensen. “We’ll take a second. That’s much better than we’ve done here in a while.”
Defending PLM track champion John Bolen finished third.
“We dug ourselves a hole (in qualifying) by starting in 10th. Good, long run car. Faster at end, but too much ground to make up.

Christensen had never won a PLM race at Pensacola’s high banks. He earned his chops in the Zoom Equipment Pro Trucks series, and collected a few victories a few seasons ago, before jumping into Late Models.
He’s under the watchful eye of crew chief Ricky Turner, he the 2002 Snowball Derby winner and crew chief for Chase Elliott’s Late Model program when Elliott was winning multiple Derby titles a decade ago.
The team doused their driver with bottles of water in Victory Lane before Christensen accepted a congratulatory handshake from Grill.
“These guys work their butts off.” Christensen said. “It has been a learning experience until now. Hopefully, this is one of many.”

Faith Chapel Outlaws
Carter Taylor’s consistency finally paid off at Five Flags Speedway.
The Lucedale driver finished third in the Faith Chapel Outlaw standings last season after five top-fives in nine features.

Taylor finally got the monkey off his back Friday at Five Flags. Taking advantage of some aggressive racing from the rest of the field, Taylor bided his time and took control of the race following a caution.
After starting ninth, he led the finally six laps and easily cruised home to the 35-lap Outlaws victory. It was his first career win at Pensacola’s high banks.
“It’s amazing. We’ve been working hard,” Taylor said. “We’ve been able to run up front but we haven’t had it dialed in to stay up front all night. Tonight, it was good.
“It’s great racing all these guys, and racing clean. I just enjoy racing.”
Logan Boyett finished runner-up and Cameron Henderson rounded out the podium.

“He had better car tonight than we did,” Boyett said of Taylor.
It was a contentious, strange night for one of Five Flags’ most popular classes Friday. Only two cars recorded times in qualifying after race officials ended the session early because teams failed to answer the bell fast enough. After being warned repeatedly to get lined up at stop-and-go, only Kevin Chase and Conner Sutton were there when the session began.
Sutton laid down a fast lap (17.523 seconds) and started on the pole. He led every lap until race officials ruled Bubba Winslow turned Sutton as the pair came out of Turn No. 4 on Lap 24. While Winslow went to the back of the pack and, ultimately, finished fifth, Sutton’s night was essentially done.

The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen
A heated rivalry gave way to brotherly love in Victory Lane on Friday at Five Flags Speedway.
Parker McDonald got his first career The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen victory, edging older brother Darryl McDonald III by a radiator in easily the most exciting race of the young season at Five Flags.
“We’ve worked hard for this,” Parker McDonald said. “I couldn’t do it without this team. It was a heckuva race, I can tell you that much.”
That it was.

The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen 25-lap feature started off as a battle between defending series champion Maddox Langham and Sportsmen Snowball Derby winner James Patrick, who was looking for his fourth straight victory at Pensacola’s high banks.
It ended with the McDonald Brothers chasing each other like they were in go-karts again. Parker McDonald came out on top, but only after he held off “D3” by a slim margin at the flag stand. As the pair barreled between Turn Nos. 3 and 4 on the final lap, Parker got loose and D3 saw his chance for glory. He drove deep with his No. 19 nearly perpendicular to the famed half-mile asphalt oval and nearly pulled ahead. However, he was too loose to make it stick and Parker beat him to the checkered flag.
Darryl McDonald II when asked in Victory Lane which one of his boys he was rooting for, the drivers’ father gave the only right answer: “Both.”
D3 finished a close second and Jim Pokrant came home in third.
“I’m proud of him,” big brother said of Parker McDonald. “I don’t know what was going on during the caution.”
Which leads us back to Langham and Patrick. Langham led for much of the race until Patrick swiped the lead on Lap 17 just before a caution. That’s when things turned chippy.

With the yellow out, Patrick scuffed his tires inches from Langham’s driver’s side door and nearly sideswiped him. The two continued their reindeer games on the back stretch when Langham not once, but twice pulled ahead of Patrick, the race leader, which brought the caution out. Race officials warned both the next act of tomfoolery would be their lasts.
On the restart, Langham darted from the outside and cleared Patrick to reclaim the lead. Patrick led his displeasure be known on the back stretch, running Langham over and sending him careening into the wall as they exited Turn No. 3.

Under caution again, Patrick parked his No. 11 at the flag stand and demanded answers from race officials. He didn’t get the ones he wanted, but he remained until Howard Langham, Maddox’s father, made his way down pit road.
The elder Langham gestured toward Patrick and invited him over for a meeting of the minds with fists. Patrick wasn’t interested, climbed back in and peeled out down the front straightaway.

Story and Bliech Crown Stocks
It doesn’t seem that long ago when Okie Mason was dominating a pair of local divisions along the Gulf Coast.

It has been exactly a decade since the Kushla, Ala., driver won Modifieds and Pro Trucks track championships at Five Flags Speedway and Mobile International Speedway for a grand total of four giant pieces of hardware in the same season.
Mason left Five Flags with another big trophy Friday night, overcoming Ryan Bleich down the stretch and holding him off for Mason’s second Story and Bleich Crown Stocks victory in as many features this season.
“You never get too old to win,” Mason said. “I don’t have too much longer, so I’ll enjoy it while I can.”

Mason hounded Bleich for the last half of the 20-lapper until he used lapped traffic to his advantage two laps from the checkered flag.
As he followed Bleich down the back stretch, Mason saw the slow cars in front of them and quickly reacted. He dove inside as Bleich struggled to maneuver around a lapped car.
“If it wasn’t for the lapped cars, I wouldn’t have gotten him,” Mason said.
Bleich, the defending series champion, finished runner-up to Mason just like it did on Opening Weekend last month. Braeden Kitchen came home third.
“Okie always races me real clean,” Bleich said. “It’s an honor to run second to Okie Mason. I love the experience.”

He also loved the experience of watching his wife, Debbie Bleich, get behind the wheel of a Crown Victoria on Friday and compete in the 21-car field. Let the record show that hubby lapped his better half twice.
“I’m excited she’s out here racing with us,” Ryan Bleich said. “I couldn’t do all this without her support, so it’s great to see her competing.”


Article Credit: Chuck Corder

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