All-Tech Raceway5/27/2023CRUSA Dirt Late Models
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Whynot Motorsports Park5/6/2023CRUSA Dirt Late Models
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Rome Speedway4/15/2023CRUSA Dirt Late Models
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Cochran Motor Speedway4/1/2023CRUSA Dirt Late Models
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Joiner Cops $27,000 in Powell Memorial Thriller

Joiner Cops $27,000 in Powell Memorial Thriller

ELLISVILLE, Fla. (Oct. 22) — The grandstand crowd was still standing and buzzing with postrace excitement, and the atmosphere was positively electric after a race that many said was the best they’d witnessed in a long time.

Fans and frontstretch inhabitants were still saluting Hunt the Front’s Joseph Joiner after his thrilling $27,000 victory in the Newsome Raceway Parts Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model Series-sanctioned Powell Family Memorial Saturday night at All-Tech Raceway, which was also part of the Adam Stewart-managed organization’s second-year E-Z-GO $100,000+ Challenge.

Rarely do stock car races elicit such a strong response. Even James Powell III, whose family is honored every year after six members (including his parents and two young daughters Ashley and Nicole) lost their lives in a June 7, 1995, plane crash in Gainesville, Fla., was calling it the best version of the event he’d seen in its storied 27-year history. He also gushed that it was likely one of the better races he’d ever witnessed in his lifetime.

He probably wasn’t far off in his assessment.
The top three finishers were all singing the praises of the slick-surfaced oval during their post-race interviews after a no-holds-barred, position-swapping slugfest that spiced most of the race (and definitely the final 27 circuits), in a donnybrook battle which left the large crowd holding their collective breath.

Joiner fended off the strong efforts of 14th-place starter Cory Hedgecock, but not before the Loudon, Tenn., driver exited the final corner rolling underneath Joiner’s machine, creating a side-by-side duel for the victory. Joiner crossed under the checkered flag just 0.283 seconds (and slightly over a car length) ahead of Hedgecock.

Completing the top five in a 30-car field were Kyle Bronson, Michael Page and Jeremy Steele.

Emotional Moment
During winner’s circle ceremonies, Joiner shared a quiet, emotional moment with Powell after the race ended, which left the crowd in near silence. Humbled by his victory in such a prestigious race and never forgetting it was more about Powell’s family than it was about his own success, Joiner fit perfectly into the whole scene and gave it added reverence and respect with his tearful and emotional exchange with Powell.

“That was a really emotional moment for me, because I have a young daughter at home, and I can’t imagine having anything similar happen to her,” Joiner said later during postrace tech inspection and teardown of his powerplant, his eyes still misting with tears while recalling the special moment. “I have read a few stories about the plane crash, and I actually read one again this morning. It breaks your heart. I just don’t know what I’d do in that situation, but I don’t think I’d be able to handle it like he does every year at this race. For him to be out here honoring his family…it just kinda hit home for me tonight.

“We all really have to appreciate what we have, because it’s all very fragile and it can be gone in a second. He [Powell] is a stand-up dude, and it’s gotta be tough for him to come back and do this every year. The way he conducts himself with such class, he loves racing, and he’s here to remember his family with everyone else…it’s just an amazing event. I’m extremely proud to be the guy that won his family’s race this time, and it’s something I’ll never forget.”

Culminating the victory lane ceremonies, track announcer and publicist Joe Kelly ended the interviews by placing his hand gently on the back of Joiner, looking toward the audience as he wrapped up the post-race festivities that had taken onlookers on a roller-coaster ride of emotions that ranged from sheer joy to sheer sadness in the span of 10 minutes.

“The Powell Memorial has always been a race that’s all about family, and has been won by so many great drivers over the years,” Kelly spoke into the microphone, addressing the crowd. “So Joseph Joiner…congratulations on your victory, and welcome to the family!”

It was a near-perfect summarization of what many observers have already labeled to be a dirt track race that itself bordered on near perfection.

A Race Develops
It was a knock-down, drag-out affair that was wildly entertaining from start to finish. Joiner paced the opening 39 trips around the semibanked facility.
At that juncture of the event, Hedgecock moved to the front and triggered a series of lead changes that resulted in a total of six among the eventual top-three finishers. Hedgecock took the lead on lap 40, but Joiner wrestled it back on the 41st circuit.

He led seven circuits until Hedgecock retook the top slot on the 48th lap during the race’s most hotly-contested, back-and-forth action. Bronson passed Hedgecock on lap 57 and paced the field until lap 61, when Joiner nabbed the top slot for the final time.

The Stretch Run
The race’s final caution flag waved on the 60th circuit, and that was the one that completely changed the outcome for the top three finishers. Bronson at the time appeared headed for victory, Hedgecock was coming fast, and Joiner seemed relegated to at least third, if not a position or two lower.

“When the yellow came out, I thought, ‘Dang it!’ Joiner said. “Now I’m gonna have to race hard, and we might still end up slipping back a couple spots. We’ve all got seven laps to drive our asses off, and somebody’s gonna win this thing. I actually messed up when I entered turn three for the restart, and I don’t really know what I did. I got to four, Bronson throttled up and left the bottom open, and I just drove down the hill and caught some momentum. There was nobody in my lane, and we shot underneath there into the lead.”

A race in doubt until the end was finally decided as Joiner crossed the finish line, with Hedgecock settling for the runnerup spot as Bronson faded a bit in the closing stages.

“I felt Cory [Hedgecock] against my car going down the frontstretch,” Joiner said. “I think we might have touched a little bit heading for the checkered, but it was just good racing. We came off turn four door to door, and when we crossed the stripe and there was nobody on either side of me, I said to myself, “Hell yeah…I think we just won! Another lap, and he [Hedgecock] probably would have gotten me. We were both running as hard as we could, and I probably didn’t have the best car out there at the end. All I knew was I was getting everything I could get out of mine.”

Late Yellow Hurts Hedgecock, Bronson
While Joiner sealed the win, Hedgecock and Bronson settled for second and third, respectively.

“We sure didn’t need that last yellow,” Hedgecock said after exiting the fourth corner on the final circuit in a side-by-side battle for the victory. “I feel pretty sure we’d have won that one. Then he added with a grin, “Well…at least 90 to 95 percent sure.”

Yep, it was one of those kinda races.

Credit a phenomenal track surface for the positive reaction to the competitive nature of the event, which Hedgecock was quick to point out in his postrace interviews.

The Loudon, Tenn., driver had started in the seventh row after winning a B-main to make the field, and advanced steadily forward to become a serious factor.

“That was by far the best racetrack I’ve driven on in a long time,” Hedgecock said. “And I mean just about anywhere we’ve gone…period. There was no lack of racing, and it never took no rubber. A lot of us thought it would in the late stages. There were 75 race cars here this weekend for a reason, and weeding your way into the field was difficult, but you could reasonably do it on a track like we had here this weekend.

“I really think we should have won it, but I can’t say I’m totally disappointed,” Hedgecock said. “We had our opportunities, and it was a lot of fun getting to race that hard all night.”

Bronson’s Chances Hurt by Late Yellow
As the race whittled down to the best three in the closing stages, Bronson looked like a potential winner. He’s got plenty of laps at the facility, and knows its characteristics. He was also driving the same car that Jimmy Owens rolled to the winner’s circle with a solid victory in last year’s version of the event.

After leading the race four laps from 57-60 until Cody Overton hit the third-turn wall to produce the race’s final caution, Bronson was prepped for the final sprint to the finish in a car that was performing well under green-flag conditions.

Bronson settled for third, racing with Joiner briefly for the lead before falling back to watch the Joiner/Hedgecock conclusion.

“No doubt, the last caution killed me,” Bronson said. “I couldn’t restart good…it just killed us. The track was really good all week. As soon as we got going, everything was good. Our car was really good on long, green-flag runs. I just couldn’t restart with them guys.”

Slick, Slick, Slick…
So yeah, toss Joiner into the pot of competitors who were well pleased with the track surface.

“It was never really rubbered up the whole night,” Joiner said. “It was real challenging being out there in the lead during the nearly part of the race, because you didn’t know where to run. When we led the first 38 or 39 laps, I was trying to catch a rubber streak somewhere and kept searching for one, but I couldn’t ever find it. It was fun, and really challenging. Then we got passed, and I knew it was time to run it as hard as I could.

“It was a slugfest, and a lot of fun. I had a ball out there. There was no issues with tire wear because the track was so good, and to get a chance to race up front with that crowd was a blast.”

Points, Sponsors and Schedules
Joiner’s victory was his second of the season while competing on a limited basis with the circuit. His other victory occurred Sept. 30 during the Red Farmer Tribute weekend at Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, Ala.

Sponsors on his Capital Race Cars-built machine included Langenfelder Mechanical Contractors, Base Race Fuels, Matthew Henry’s Pump & Irrigation Service and Trading Paints.

Jason Welshan, who has been leading the regular series points standings for much of the season, now holds a 160-point edge over Jake Knowles in the chase for the $10,000 series championship. Additionally, Welshan took over the lead in the E-Z-GO points standings, and leads Jimmy Thomas by a four-point margin [504-500] in that circuit’s battle for its $5,000 title.

The regular traveling series’ next event will be held Nov. 3-5 at Magnolia Motor Speedway in Columbus, Miss., which will also be part of the E-Z-GO schedule.

About Crate Racin’ USA
The economical Chevrolet Performance 602 and 604 Circle Track Engine is utilized by competitors in the various divisions presented by Crate Racin’ USA. It’s in stock and available from Newsome Raceway Parts in Hartsville, S.C.

Each engine is built and sealed at the factory to prevent any expensive modifications. To place an order, call 1-877-497-3624.

For more information and rules, visit the organization’s website at www.crateracinusa.com, or follow our extensive social media programs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Newsome Raceway Parts, a division of Raceway Chevrolet in Hartsville, S.C., is the title sponsor of Crate Racin’ USA. E-Z-GO Golf Carts is the title sponsor of the second-year E-Z-GO $100,000+ Challenge.

Chevrolet Performance is an official sponsor of the organization, along with Advanced Laser & Machine, Cruise with the Champions, Hoosier Racing Tire, KRC Power Steering, Knowles Race Parts and Bodies, My Race Pass, VP Racing Fuels and Lubricants and Willy’s Carburetors.

Official chassis sponsors include Warrior Race Cars, Rocket Chassis and CVR Race Cars.

Powell Family Memorial: 1. Joseph Joiner, 2. Cory Hedgecock, 3. Kyle Bronson, 4. Michael Page, 5. Jeremy Steele, 6. Hayden Cardwell, 7. Sam Seawright, 8. Kyle Strickler, 9. Ashton Winger, 10. Jason Welshan, 11. Walker Arthur, 12. Tony Lindsey, 13. Jimmy Thomas, 14. Trey Mills, 15. Lucas Ruark, 16. Jake Knowles, 17. David Showers Jr., 18. Matthew Broccato, 19. Jake Rainey, 20. Jackson Hise, 21. Mark Whitener, 22. Cody Overton, 23. Tyler Millwood, 24. David Whitener, 25. Jason Fitzgerald, 26. Garrett Mosley, 27. Bud Chancey, 28. Nevin Gainey, 29. Jimmy Sharpe Jr., 30. Cameron Saunders.

Entries: 73
Boyd-Bilt Fabrication Fast Qualifier: Joseph Joiner, 19.657 seconds
Lap leaders: Joseph Joiner 1-39, Cory Hedgecock, 40, Joseph Joiner 41-47, Cory Hedgecock 48-56, Kyle Bronson 57-60, Joseph Joiner 61-67.
Cautions: 9
Margin of victory: 0.283 seconds
KRC Power Steering Heat Winners: Kyle Bronson, Garrett Mosley, Jeremy Steele, Ashton Winger, Michael Page, Joseph Joiner.
KRC Power Steering B-main Winners: Walker Arthur, Cory Hedgecock, Jason Fitzgerald.
Last-Chance Winner: Sam Seawright

Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model Series (current standings): 1. Jason Welshan, 1,482; 2. Jake Knowles, 1,322; 3. Jake Rainey, 1,302; 4. Matthew Brocato, 1,164; 5. Jimmy Thomas, 1,156; 6. Jason Markewitz, 1,054; 7. Jeremy Pate, 938; 8. Tanner Collins, 916; 9. Randall Beckwith, 640; 10. Dalton Dowdy, 614; 11. Cody Overton, 610; 12. Mark Whitener, 524; 13. Tyler Millwood, 522; 14. Clay Harris, 466; 15. T.J. Brittain, 454; 16. Joseph Joiner, 388; 17. Hunter Peacock, 384; 18. Cory Hedgecock, 372; 19. Henry Carter, 358; 20. Mark Fleischer, 348.

E-Z-GO $100,000+ Challenge: 1. Jason Welshan, 504; 2. Jimmy Thomas, 500; 3. Jake Rainey, 458; 4. Jake Knowles, 450; 5. Matthew Brocato, 412; 6. Randall Beckwith, 378; 7. Clay Harris, 346; 8. Jason Markewitz, 322; 9. Cody Overton, 298; 10. Hunter Peacock, 290; 11. Jeremy Pate, 264; 12. Tanner Collins, 258; 13. Mark Whitener, 252; 14. Henry Carter, 246; 15. Trey Mills, 238; 16. Cameron Weaver, 228; 17. Jeremy Steele, 226; 18. Nevin Gainey, 216; 19. Tony Lindsey, 204; 20. (tie) Zach Shelton and Jason Fitzgerald, 196.