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The Late Model race was challenging right from the start! When the green flag was thrown by U.S. Army Captain Ramirez, the lineup was as follows: Mike Balzer (#77), Tom Grothues (#11), Jesse Salazar (#18), Jason Smith (#28), Ronnie Smith (#5), Scott Jerkins (#10), Larry Bendele (#23), Donny Horelka (#41), Danny Garcia (#97), Damon Bean (#44), Jeff Moore (#36), Jason Oates (#21), Larry Hilbig (#15), and James Polasek (#4).


Going into Turn 1 on the first lap, some of the frontrunners got loose, and almost the entire field behind them was involved in a huge accident. The race went red, and only six cars remained on the track following the incident (Balzer, Grothues, Salazar, Bean, Ronnie Smith and Polasek). Points’ leader Larry Bendele was involved in the incident, and his car was hit “every which way,” but most of the damage occurred on the right rear tire wheel. Second place points’ contender, Donny Horelka, had to replace his radiator and lost several laps during his pit stop. When the race was restarted, the lineup had changed considerably, as follows: Balzer, Grothues, Salazar, Ronnie Smith, Bean, Jerkins, Jason Smith, Oates, Polasek, Hilbig, Bendele, and Garcia.


On Lap 3, Grothues passed Balzer and took over the lead. On the next lap, Salazar and Jerkins also passed Balzer. Then on Lap 5, Jerkins spun out, involving Jason Smith, Garcia, Bean and Bendele in the caution. Both Jerkins and Bean pitted for repairs. When the green flag was thrown again, Grothues was in the lead, followed by Ronnie Smith, Salazar, Balzer, Bendele, Jason Smith, Garcia, Bean, and Jerkins. Three laps later, Bendele was forced out of the race due to a blown engine. Fortunately, the engine just shut down and didn’t cause another yellow flag.


With only nine more laps to go, Balzer passed Salazar to take over the third position. The fans were treated to some close racing as the top four contenders raced bumper-to-bumper for the last ten laps. Grothues managed to maintain his lead and took the checkered flag, followed by Ronnie Smith, Balzer, Salazar, and Bean.


Grothues was excited about his first feature win this season, and he couldn’t remember when he had won his last feature race! He commented, “My car went away at the end and I was holding on for dear life . . . I was lucky, very lucky!” Grothues is the eighth different Late Model feature winner this year, so this class is becoming highly competitive in the last few weeks of the current racing season.


Tommy Grothues thanks his two brothers for helping him, along with his sponsors, MG Building Materials and Excellent Mortgage. Grothues also races in the ROMCO series and says he plans to return to San Antonio Speedway in his Late Model “if his car is running at the time!”

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I think it would be OK if you quit your day job and just concentrated on putting Reb, Bruce and Mike Haag out of a job! Between you, SASpeedRacer24 and txtom we are getting some decent race coverage these days!! Thanks for all you do for racing...


Nick Holt

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Thanks, guys, for your nice comments. However, I wouldn't want to compete with y'all for all that money you get for writing racing reports! Marc usually writes the recaps, but he wasn't able to attend the races at SAS this weekend. I was doing "double-duty," but that's okay . . . I'll pay him back when he has to cover for me when I leave for my cruise on August 23!



Please send me a PM with the e-mail addresses for the publications you mentioned. If they chose to use our stories, the extra publicity would certainly be a boost for SAS and its drivers.


Thanks again,


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