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Texas Two Step 150, presented by Express Lube


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Bendele Bags Big Bucks in Two-Step Shootout

By J M Hallas

As green waved on the 150 lap USRA Super Late Model main event J C Umschied got the jump on Greg Davidson. Unfortunately it was too good of a jump with yellow waving to rebunch the field. This time the top six stayed in formation as they stayed side by side through turns 1-2. Umschied got the edge coming out of turn 4 to take the early lead. Tommy Grimes and Brandon Bendele stayed door to door for third, with Casey Smith getting around Chris Davidson for sixth.

 

Grimes and B. Bendele continued their side by side battle, with Smith no looking to take fifth from Matt Merrell. The field finally sorted out into single file on lap 3 with Umschied, G. Davidson, Grimes, B. Bendele, Smith, Merrell and C. Davidson heading the group. Tom Grotheus and Brent Seeley got by Corey Roper who broke the front suspension after a brush with the wall.

 

The lead group got split up when Smith got hung behind a slow car on lap 14. Smith’s trouble went from bad to worse as the entire back panel of his car broke loose. With no rear spoiler, Smith spun in turns 1-2 bringing out a caution. During the yellow, Smith pitted several times in an attempt to repair the problem. After numerous tries, and losing a lap, Smith finally retired from the race.

 

On the restart the top four got away from points chasers Merrell and C. Davidson, who had their own battle going on. B. Bendele began putting pressure on Grimes for third, while Grotheus was looking low on Tuffy Hudson for eighth. After a short scrap, Grotheus took the spot on lap 25.

 

Up front, G. Davidson was taking looks on Umschied for the lead as the lead duo put a little distance on Grimes and Bendele. Grotheus, who despite arriving late and missing practice, was one of the fastest cars on the track, caught and passed Thad Felton for seventh. As the leaders got farther ahead, C. Davidson decided it was time to go getting by Merrell for fifth on lap 44.

 

G. Davidson, Grimes and B. Bendele got slowed behind a lap car on lap 50 giving up some ground to Umschied. G. Davidson saw his chance for a top finish go away when he slowed on lap 51 with a broken differential. Yellow waved for G. Davidson on lap 52, when he almost came to a stop on track.

 

Back to green on lap 56, the top three got cleanly away from C. Davidson. The lead trio stayed on each others bumpers with C. Davidson close back in. Merrell’s top five run came to and end on lap 64 when he pulled off into the back pit entrance. Felton slid high on lap 74 giving up sixth and seventh to Grotheus and Hudson.

 

As the crossed flags were shown it was Umschied, Grimes, B. Bendele and C. Davidson running nose to tail holding a gap back to Grotheus, Hudson, Seeley and Felton. Grimes turned up the heat on Umschied for the lead and ran side by side for the top spot on lap 79. Grimes took over the point on lap 80, with B. Bendele getting second on lap 81.Umschied got loose on lap 82 giving C. Davidson a run to take third.

 

In the second pack, Seeley and Felton got around Hudson for sixth and seventh on lap 83. Grimes inched out to a half second lead on lead on B. Bendele until a lap 90 waved for Hudson who spun on the front straight. During the yellow, C. Davidson, Umschied and Hudson all pitted for right side tires. Felton pulled off from fourth, done for the night.

 

The lead duo got ahead on green as C. Davidson and Umschied on new tires quickly worked through traffic. Seeley tagged the front stretch wall on lap 98 to bring out another yellow. This time Grimes and B. Bendele took the opportunity to pit for tires. This handed the lead to C. Davidson on lap 99, with Grotheus still on old tires second and Umschied third.

 

Umschied took advantage of Grotheus on the restart snagging second. Lap 105 saw Hudson slow from fourth while Grimes and B. Bendele got by Grotheus and Hudson for third and fourth. The top four were now back together, all on new tires. Grimes moved by Umschied on lap 108, bringing B. Bendele along to third.

 

Grimes was quickly on C. Davidson for the lead, with B. Bendele right on his bumper. Grimes got the nose inside C. Davidson on lap 112 coming out of turn 2 and got past on the back straight. B. Bendele again followed in Grime’s tire tracks for second. Grimes and B. Bendele then inched away from C. Davidson who being reeled in by Umschied. Umschied took the spot from C. Davidson, who later found the upper A-arm mount breaking away from the frame.

 

Grimes and B. Bendele saw the gap vary from a car length to an inch as the two San Antonio Speedway veterans battled for the big pay day. Despite nursing an ill handling car, C. Davidson was able to close back in on Umschied for third as the lead duet got up to a four and a half second advantage.

 

Grimes’ car developed a miss as the race wound down to final laps and began to show a little smoke. B. Bendele was quick to jump on the wounded car of Grimes using the high side to get by for the point on lap 134. Grimes tried to hang on as B. Bendele motored away to three car lengths. With five to go, B. Bendele had built over a second margin on Grimes, who was still puffing smoke every time hit got back on the gas. Bendele took the white with a comfortable margin and ran off to pick up the win and the 5K pay day, by two seconds over Grimes.

 

“You know we’re just out to win and have fun,” quipped Bendele who had actually forgotten about the $5,000 pay check. “It was pretty cool. Tommy(Grimes) and I got to race side by side for a bunch of laps at the start. Then I just settled in and tried to save my tires.”

“ It was in everyone’s game plan to make pit stops. Then when Chris(Davidson) and the others pitted I think we wanted come in. But my crew chief, Bobby Black’s radio went dead. So while he was scrambling for a new radio, I wasn’t sure what to do. I thought it was bad a decision to pit later. But he made the call and the crew was behind it. Obviously it turned out to be the right call. The new tires were huge. It was cool going from the front to the back, then back to the front.”

“My car started coming in with 20 to go,” he added. “He looked a little loose. I didn’t know he was having motor problems. It would have been a good run to the end. You’ve got to come here every race and be ready to make changes to stay competitive. Everyone’s doing better. It would have been fun to race with Casey(Smith) but he had trouble. Tommy’s got the 13(T Wade Welch) car running better, J C(Umschied) was back out there and Chris(Davidson) is always tough. You really don’t know who is going to win. It just comes down to who is best on long runs.”

 

Despite late motor trouble a happy Grimes said. “We had a good run out there. The car picked up a skip in the motor and would cut out like it was starving for fuel. I think we burned a hole in the piston or something. If they check motors tonight, I hope they pick that one to check.”

 

Davidson who hung in for fourth and increased his points lead stated, “I think we had the car to beat out there tonight. After we changed tires I still thought we had a flat. The steering just wasn’t right. As it turned out we broke the A-arm mounts right off the frame. I don’t think it was carry over problem from the wreck in Kyle last time. We go over this car pretty close after each race. Things just happen sometimes.”

 

USRA Super Late Model results

Texas Two-Step 150, presented by Express Lube

1. 81 Brandon Bendele

2. 13/22 Tommy Grimes

3. 52 J C Umschied

4. 41 Chris Davidson

5. 11 Tom Grotheus

6. 7 Tuffy Hudson

7. 02 Matt Smith

8. 36 Jonathon Beason

9. 16 Danny Pike

10. 11s Brent Seeley

11. 29 Thad Felton

12. 03 Matt Merrell

13. 96 Greg Davidson

14. 23 Larry Bendele

15. 9/99 Casey Smith

16. 04 Corey Roper

57 John Kelly—DNS, crashed in qualifying

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