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Bendele takes USRA SLM Texas Two Step at SAS

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For Immediate Release – August 6, 2006

Contact: Nick Holt, USRA Media Director

(210) 690-8564 (office) - (210) 415-1251 (cell)



Brandon Bendele Bags USRA SLM “Texas Two-Step” Win at San Antonio


by Nick Holt


San Antonio, TX (August 6, 2006) – Brandon Bendele made all the right moves - including a late-race pit stop for two right-side tires - in winning the United States Racing Association (USRA) Super Late Model Series “Texas Two-Step – Part II” at San Antonio Speedway Saturday, August 5, 2006.


Bendele, winner of the last USRA SLM feature event at the super-quick, paved, half-mile SAS oval in July, took home $5,000.00 in prize money for his efforts in a race that saw several lead changes, pit stops by most of the leaders late in the race and bumper-to-bumper racing among the leaders for the entire 150-lap event.


Bendele, who set fast time in qualifying at 18.319 seconds, started fourth (due to the trademark USRA top-six “hat draw”) behind pole-sitter Greg Davidson (18.523 seconds), veteran driver J. C. Umscheid ( 18.414 seconds) and Tommy Grimes in the borrowed T. Wade Welch machine (18.404 seconds). Rookie Matt Merrell timed in fifth fastest (18.429 seconds) and started fifth while Chris Davidson lined up sixth in spite of his second-fast qualifying time (18.368).


Earlier in the season Chris Davidson won the “Texas Two Step – Part I” contested at Texas Motor Speedway and stood to collect $5,000 bonus - in addition to the $5,000 first-place prize money - if he could win both “Texas Two Step” segments. But it was not to be due to an unusual chassis failure late in the race while he was leading the race.


“We thought we had ‘em beat,” Davidson said after finishing a disappointing fourth. “The top A-arm mount on the left front somehow un-welded itself from the frame. I think we had a great shot at winning because our car was really good until the A-arm ripped loose. I’ve never seen that happen before and I’ve been racing a long time. If this racing stuff was easy, everybody would do it.”


At the start Umscheid jumped out to the early lead over the 17-car field with Veteran Greg Davidson (Chris Davidson’s father), Grimes, Bendele and two-time 2006 USRA SLM winner Casey Smith nose-to-tail right behind him. A few car lengths back Merrell and Davidson watched the action up front and appeared to be saving their tires for later.


Smith’s night came to an early end, however, when the entire rear bumper section of his ride came loose causing him to spin in a cloud of smoke between turns one and two on the sixteenth lap. Luckily the rest of the field avoided him, but after a few quick pit stops to re-attach or remove the flopping rear section failed, Smith parked it.


The first third of the race featured some very tight - but very clean - racing up front with perennial front-runner Greg Davidson giving Umscheid all he could handle. But Davidson slowed suddenly on lap 52 and coasted to a stop on the back straight to bring out the second of four caution periods.


“I wish I could finish one of these races,” Davidson said, referring to his uncharacteristic string of bad luck. “We had something for them tonight, but it just wasn’t my night I guess.”


A dozen laps later Merrell pulled into the pits with mechanical woes that ended his evening early as well.


Meanwhile, the front four – Umscheid, Grimes, Bendele and the younger Davidson – were putting on a driving exhibition much to the delight of the nearly-full and appreciative grandstands.


As the laps sped by, Umscheid began to slow a bit in the middle of the turns as his car started to pick up a push. Finally, a few laps after the crossed flags, Grimes wormed his way beneath the leader and a lap or two later both Bendele and Davidson did the same. Umscheid began to fade as the lead trio took off.


A caution flag flew a few laps later for a spin by Tuffy Hudson down the front straight which gave Davidson, Umscheid and Hudson a chance to get fresh right side rubber. The lead pair of Grimes and Bendele elected to stay out and pray for a later caution. Their prayers were answered when Hudson and rookie Brent Seeley tangled exiting turn four sending Seeley hard into the grandstand wall.


With all five of the contenders on fresh rubber, it looked like Davidson had the car to beat as a slight gap started to grow between him and the trio of Umscheid, Grimes and Bendele who were nose-to-tail. It wasn’t long, however, before Umscheid’s push was back and both Grimes and Bendele got by for second and third with 42 laps remaining.


A few laps later Davidson felt his left front suspension give way and both Grimes and Bendele sped by with Umscheid coming through a few laps later.


Suddenly it was down to a two-car shootout as both Umscheid and Davidson nursed their ill-handling cars through the turns.


And a shootout it was – at least until a few tell-tale puffs of engine smoke appeared from underneath Grimes’ car with 20 to go. Bendele took full advantage of the situation and passed Grimes on the outside going through turns one and two and never looked back winning by a comfortable two-seconds.


“We had a great car, but I was a little worried that we might not have made the right changes on that pit stop for tires,” an exhausted Bendele said in victory circle. “Tommy (Grimes) was awesome and for a little bit there he was pulling away, but with about 20 to go our car started coming on and he started getting a little loose off the corner. We took advantage of his problems and made it into good fortune for us.”


Grimes, who finished second, had nothing but praise for his adopted car owner and crew chief.


“The car was really good and so easy to drive thanks to (Crew Chief) Denny (Burton) and (car owner) T. Wade (Welch) and the whole crew,” Grimes said. “We came in and changed tires and then drove right back to the front. I mean, we just had an awesome car and we were pulling away a bit. But something happened to the engine there towards the end. I think we lost a cylinder.”


Umscheid held on to third.


“The car was good early but we just picked up a real bad push about 50 laps in,” Umscheid said. “I thought that once we came in and got the fresh right side tires that we would be able to get back by them, but we couldn’t get the car to turn in the center – it was way too tight.”


The USRA SLM Series will be back at San Antonio Speedway for a 125-lap feature on August 19, 2006, along with the USRA Modified Series and the USRS Truck Series.


USRA Super Late Model “Texas Two-Step – Part II” Results


Finish, Car Number, Name, Hometown, Qualifying Time, Starting Position and Laps Completed


1. (81) Brandon Bendele, San Antonio, TX, 19.319, 4, 150 laps

2. (13) Tommy Grimes, San Antonio, TX, 18.404, 3, 150

3. (52) J. C. Umscheid, Ft. Worth, TX, 14.414, 2, 150

4. (41) Chris Davidson, Pearland, TX, 18.368, 6, 150

5. (11) Tommy Grothues, N/T, 16, 149

6. (7) Tuffy Hudson, Portland, TX, 18.669, 9, 149

7. (02) Matt Smith, Houston, TX, 19.609, 12, 146

8. (36) Jonathan Beason, Broken Arrow, OK, N/T, 15, 145

9. (16) Danny Pike, Red Oak, TX, 19.676, 13, 141

10. (11S) Brent Seeley, Dallas, TX, 19.359, 11, 98

11. (29) Thad Felton, The Woodlands, TX, 18.594, 7, 92

12. (03) Matt Merrell, Portland, TX, 18.429, 5, 64

13. (96) Greg Davidson, Pearland, TX, 18.523, 1, 51

14. (23) Larry Bendele, Adkins, TX, 19.731, 14, 33

15. (9) Casey Smith, Austin, TX, 18.657, 8, 20

16. (04) Cory Roper, Vernon, TX, 18.928, 10, 5

17. (57) John Kelly, La Vernia, TX, 18.870, DNS, 0


Margin of Victory: 2.0 seconds


Umscheid led laps 1-79; Grimes led laps 80-99; Greg Davidson led laps 100-112; Grimes led laps 113-133; Brandon Bendele led laps 134-150



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