Round 8 of the 2011 STA-BIL Lawn And Garden Mower Racing Series found the top names in the USLMRA traveling to Bowles Farm in Clements, Maryland on the 5th and 6th of August. There were some major movers as chances for the top spots rapidly disintegrate. Almost every time a checkered flag fell this weekend someone’s fate was sealed. Championship leaders protected leads by taking top spots and a couple of class “mid pack racers” made major moves. Someone forgot to tell Lee Grover and Chuck Miller it was too late in the season to make their move! With only one weekend of racing left before the STA-BIL Keeps Gas Fresh Finals some things seem shored up, however even if Jayson Mikula Goes to Pennsylvania and posts a pair of wins he still cannot stop Ronald Rollman from picking up a win in Tennessee and we may very well go to Ohio with a Class rookie having the best shot in 5 years of stopping the 5 time class champ! There is no such thing as a safe lead! Here’s how the points mowed down after Maryland.
John Michael Bell mowed down the competition once again with back-to-back wins, leaving 2nd place Hayden Martin as the only JP driver with even the possibility of scoring 4 wins before finals. Wyatt Sullivan only managed a 4th on Sunday allowing Mariah Peeler and Lauren Filos to move within 50 points of knocking him out of 3rd. Lauren’s 2nd on Saturday and Mariah’s 3rd on Sunday kept Jordan Brown out of the top 5, though a 3rd and 2nd on the weekend was enough to put her in striking distance of the top 5.
A 6th and a 10th for Dawn Filos did not help her points standings but what hurt it was Jim Keech’s 3rd place finish on Sunday. Jim’s dandy driving put him 50 points up on Filos for 4th place in IMOW. Wally Bender did what Wally does best and flopped a pair of W’s matching the pair from Georgia early in the season puts him in a 3-way tie with Michigan’s’ Chris Vanmaastricht and Florida’s Pat Sullivan. One of the USLMRA ‘s most Senior Veterans The Rocket Man did not have a good weekend, failing to start on Saturday and only pulling an 8th place finish on Sunday, however another one of the USLMRA’s favorite veterans Bobby Cleveland did have a great weekend. A 4th on Saturday followed by a 2nd on Sunday propelled BC from his 20-something “who cares” position to 8th. Another class mover was Tina Paccione, her 3rd place finish on Saturday lands her a 6th place seed. While all of this makes for exciting racing the fact is nothing short of wins is going to give anyone a chance in Ohio with three of the best holding 4 Aces!
Wally Bender maintains his lead in A/P but it is not near as comfortable as it used to be. Tommy Hawley may have finally chased all the gremlins out and posted his 3rd win of the season on Sunday, making him and Matt Tucker the only drivers capable of catching Wally before Finals. Sliding back from tied for second, Pete’s win on Saturday coupled with Pat’s 2nd saw both Sullivan’s gaining 50 points but now sharing 3rd and 4th spots. Mathew Moran’s 4th and 3rd place finishes leaves him trailing Tony Thompson by only 50 points for 5th place. Matt only needs a 4th to tie or a 3rd place finish to jump passed Tony to gain one of the coveted top 5 positions heading to Finals.
Though the top 6 spots were unchanged, Michael Paccione finally took a Win in S/P Saturday which gained him 100 points moving him within 50 of Wally Bender who cannot seem to figure out that 2nd place finishes do not a championship make! After his mowchine failed him on Saturday, Jason Brown stole 600 points he did not need on Sunday to keep the crowd away. Barring major problems, someone is going to have to win everything left to keep either Jason or co-class leader Rich Webb from taking top honors this season. Matt Strine pulled a pair of 3rd place finishes to shore up his 5th place standings.
Can I call it or what? Lee Grover jumps from 12th to 1st after posting a win on Sunday and 3rd on Saturday Grover joined Michael Paccione for the top spot in C/P, but they are not alone. Pete Sullivan Posted his 2nd win of the season on Sunday gaining him the precious 50 points he needed to join his Rocket Man Racing teammate in what is now a three way tie in what is still the only class that has no driver topped out! The classes’ top 3 swapped the top 3 spots keeping other drivers from gaining those precious points. Only managing 6th & 7th place finishes for the weekend Tom Hawley is still 50 points behind the championship trio, but to get that 50 points will take a win. Bill Campbell slid back to 5th and Jon Lewman fell out of the top 5.
I don’t know where the Woogie was, but I can tell you exactly where the Boogie was in B/P! Chuck Miller broke into the top 5 in Maryland by running lap times ½ a second faster than the rest of the field posting a pair of wins and joining Ronald Rollman for the 2nd place position in the USLMRA’s Top Class. Rollman and Bobby Cleveland managed to stay off the B/P class’s royal family with neither Mikula posting anything better than a 4th place finish. Jayson still owns the lead by 50 points but Jim slid to 4th. Jason Brown just cannot find the end of a race but despite not finishing in his last 4 tries he managed to hang onto 5th place on the leader board and Larry Benning fell out of the top 5 into 6th place. Being the fastest of that other class of mowers who shared the track with Chuck on Sunday moved Bobby Cleveland again from oblivion into the top 10 landing him in 9th.
Chris Cox out of Georgia put “Rusty” out front and left him their on Saturday gaining his 3rd win of the season moving him into a tie with Manny Torres for the #2 spot in F/X. Greg Honchell still owns a quad of wins and Penne and Hinson held on to their 4th and 5th place spots respectively but Wally Bender’s win moved him into 6th and just a blade off of Hinson’s grass for 5th. With only 3 good scores for the year Wally has an easy shot at moving into the top 5. James “Old Goat” Klauss sits in 7th with a pair of 2nd place scores and could easily be a contender as well.
Wally Bender ran 6 races at Bowles Farms. Wally Bender had 3 wins, 2 seconds and 1 “Oops I broke it!” Wally Bender is leading the points in IMOW, is 100 points out of the Lead in S/P and though sitting 6th he has the most viable chance of giving the leaders headaches in F/X. Wally Bender has 18 Feature Starts in the USLMRA STA-BIL Lawn And Garden Racing Series for 2011. Wally Bender has 7 wins, 7 second place finishes and the only races that he finished out of the top 2 spots was one 3rd and one 4th. I have a feeling I am not the only one who will repeat Wally Bender’s name this season!
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