Lonnie Wheatley, LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (August 28, 2021) – Keith Martin picked an ideal time to step into the limelight.
The Burleson, TX, racer rode the rim past preliminary night feature winner Justin Zimmerman at the midway point of Saturday night’s 30-lap Inaugural Wingless Short Track Nationals presented by KNP Painting championship feature atop the I-30 Speedway’s high-banked quarter-mile clay oval and went on to capture the $5,000 winner’s share.
And he etched his name into the record books in record-setting fashion aboard the Express Car Wash of Texas/Abilene Powder Coating No. 79 machine by establishing a new Non-Wing Sprint Car I-30 Speedway 30-lap track record of eight minutes and thirty-seconds in the frantically-contested caution-free affair sanctioned by the ASCS Elite Non-Wing Sprint Car series.
After chasing pole starter Zimmerman around the lower portion of the track in the opening circuits, Martin made the move to the top of the track at just the right time prior to the midway point to take command.
“I heard someone up there, I knew my only chance was to go up and try it,” Martin explained. “I figured I could at least hold on to second or slip off the track, I had to take the chance. The car was actually a lot better on the top, we were able to make good speed up there.”
Eventual runner-up Chris Morgan who was working the narrow cushion in the early rounds may have very well tipped the eventual winner off.
“I was pacing myself and trying to pick the right time to make the move,” Morgan said. “He moved up before I made my move and I couldn’t do anything with him then, he had a better car at that point.”
The early rounds had Zimmerman leading the way ahead of Martin with both rolling the bottom as Morgan committed to the high-side right away.
While the lead duo stuck to the bottom, the upper portion of the track began to come into play as Morgan stalked the leaders and Arizona’s Shon Deskins rode the rim to fourth within the opening handful of laps.
Sensing the upper momentum, Martin tested the topside of turns one and two on the 13th lap and committed to the cushion all the way around two laps later as he rallied past Zimmerman for the point on the 16th round.
Riding the rim to perfection, Martin gradually slipped away from the field as Zimmerman moved to the topside as well in an effort to fend off Morgan for the runner-up position.
Trading some sliders along the way, Morgan finally claimed command of second with a handful of laps remaining. But Martin was long gone at that time after amassing a lead of more than a half straightaway.
While Martin raced to the checkered ahead of Morgan and Zimmerman, Deskins claimed fourth with I-30 regular Cody Gardner rounding out the top five. Mason Smith was sixth Wyatt Burks, Jordan Mallett, Zach Pringle and Jason Howell completing the top ten as Jamey Mooney earned Hard Charger honors by racing from 19th to 11th.
Dale Howard, Mallett, Burks and Derek Hagar picked up Saturday night heat race wins with Landon Crawley and then father Tim Crawley scoring “B” Main wins.
Inaugural Wingless Short Track Nationals presented by KNP Painting Championship Finale Results:
Saturday – August 28, 2021
Heat Races (Top 14 in Finishing/Passing Points Advance to “A” Main, balance to two “B” Mains):
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 47-Dale Howard, 2. 1-Paul White, 3. 15J-Jeremy Middleton, 4. 81a-Chris Morgan, 5. #1-Justin Zimmerman, 6. 11a-Blake Jenkins, 7. 63-Chris Williams, 8. 21k-Kevin Hinkle, 9. 73-Josh Baker.
Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. 14-Jordon Mallett, 2. 38-Zach Pringle, 3. 2-Landon Crawley, 4. 31-Mason Smith, 5. 3-Howard Moore, 6. 92-Cody Hays, 7. 3b-Chris Banja, 8. 173-Brett Holland, 9. G6-Cody Gardner.
Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. 11w-Wyatt Burks, 2. 20-Shon Deskins, 3. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 4. 44-Jason Howell, 5. 36-Tyler Edwards, 6. 48x-Neal Matuska, 7. 12m-Greg Merritt, 8. 19-Jason Long.
Fourth Heat (8 Laps): 1. 9jr-Derek Hagar, 2. 91-Michael Day, 3. 24-Landon Simon, 4. 1x-Tim Crawley, 5. 79-Keith Martin, 6. 48-Caden McCreary, 7. 13-Chase Howard, 8. 69-Jamey Mooney.
“B” Features – Top 3 from Each Advance to “A:
First “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 2-Landon Crawley, 2. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 3. 69-Jamey Mooney, 4. 47-Dale Howard, 5. 3-Howard Moore, 6. 21k-Kevin Hinkle, 7. 73-Josh Baker, 8. 3b-Chris Banja, 9. 63-Chris Williams, 10. 13-Chase Howard.
Second “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 1x-Tim Crawley, 2. 48-Caden McCreary, 3. 91-Michael Day, 4. 48x-Neal Matuska, 5. 11a-Blake Jenkins, 6. 12m-Greg Merritt, 7. 92-Cody Hays, 8. 19-Jason Long, 9. 36-Tyler Edwards, 10. 173-Brett Holland (DNS).
Inaugural Wingless Short Track Nationals “A” Feature ($5,000-to-win)
A Feature (30 Laps – Starting position in parentheses): 1. 79-Keith Martin (3), 2. 81a-Chris Morgan (4), 3. #1-Justin Zimmerman (1), 4. 20-Shon Deskins (6), 5. G6-Cody Gardner (7), 6. 31-Mason Smith (5), 7. 11w-Wyatt Burks (10), 8. 14-Jordon Mallett (9), 9. 38-Zach Pringle (14), 10. 44-Jason Howell (2), 11. 69-Jamey Mooney (19), 12. 1x-Tim Crawley (18), 13. 91-Michael Day (20), 14. 16-Anthony Nicholson (17), 15. 1-Paul White (12), 16. 2-Landon Crawley (15), 17. 15J-Jeremy Middleton (11), 18. 48-Caden McCreary (18), 19. 9jr-Derek Hagar (13), 20. 24-Landon Simon (8).
Lap Leaders: Justin Zimmerman 1-15, Keith Martin 16-30.