ABILENE, Texas (Oct. 19) – Josh McGaha was getting compliments long after the IMCA Modified checkers flew at Abilene Speedway’s Ryan Bard Memorial Southern Challenge.
McGaha stayed in front after swapping the lead late with frequent foe Chris Elliott in winning Saturday’s headliner, earning $2,000 and a 2020 Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational ballot berth for the victory.
“It was a barnburner, a heck of a good race,” said McGaha, also winner of 2011 and 2012 Southern Challenge titles. “It’s one of the most fun races I’ve been in and I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on how exciting it was.”
Elliott, Herring, Matt Guillaume and Chase Allen rounded out the top five.
Now the six-time track champion at Abilene, McGaha had started fourth and passed Herring near midway for the lead.
He built up a straightaway advantage before getting stuck behind a slower car. Elliott was quick to catch up and challenge.
Their back-and-forth battle ended with McGaha ahead by a car length and a half at the finish.
“I raced with Chris all year at Abilene and this was one heck of a race,” said McGaha. “We put on a show and nobody touched fenders. It was just good, close, side-by-side racing.”
Also taking $2,000 feature wins at the 25th annual event were Jason Batt in the IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars and Gabe Tucker in the Smiley’s Racing Products Southern SportMods.
Batt had seen a new motor expire early on Friday. He had a 2012 Matt Guillaume engine in the car by 10 a.m. Saturday, fended off a challenge from William Gould around halfway and picked up a trophy to match the hardware he took home from the 2014 event.
“I had my six-year-old daughter Paisley with me and she handed me wrenches,” said Batt, who got help as well from when Bill Lindsey brought his service truck over. “It was kind of a me and her show.”
Gould cut a tire on lap 15. Jason Adcock prevailed in a battle with Colby Deming for second, with Billy Wade and Dustin White next across the stripe.
Tucker took home his first Bard Memorial Southern Challenge trophy after getting a quick good luck from former race winner Keith White in staging and then starting the 30-lapper from inside row three.
He passed Tim Clonch for the front spot on lap 10.
“We found the high side to work a little better,” Tucker said. “I passed Tim on the bottom but once I got by him I went back to the top.”
Clonch, Robert Crabtree III, Casey Brunson and Damon Hammond were next at the finish. Crabtree sped to the top three after winning his “B” feature.
“I’ve finished second a couple times and been in the top four in the Modified and Stock Car but I’ve never won the Ryan Bard Memorial before. It’s great and I was really excited,” Tucker said. “This race means a lot to me. This is a pretty big win in our book.”
Modifieds –1. Josh McGaha; 2. Chris Elliott; 3. Toby Herring; 4. Matt Guillaume; 5. Chase Allen; 6. John Gober; 7. Fred Wojtek; 8. Mark Patterson; 9. William Gould; 10. Chad Hertel; 11. Caleb Stone; 12. Kade Ogle; 13. Vince Ogle; 14. Neal Flowers; 15. Mark Adams; 16. Danny Hogue; 17. Danny Patterson; 18. H. Chance Brown; 19. Aaron Patterson; 20. Colin Deming.
Stock Cars – 1. Jason Batt; 2. Jason Adcock; 3. Colby Deming; 4. Billy Wade; 5. Dustin White; 6. J.D. Davis; 7. Kelly Brown; 8. Shane Priddy; 9. Jeramy Bradley; 10. Kirk Martin; 11. Ranger Shipman; 12. Jack Miles; 13. Bill Poindexter; 14. Kendall Rea; 15. Damon Hammond; 16. William Gould; 17. Larry Bradley; 18. Tommy Fain; 19. Cary White; 20. Dennis Bissonnette.
Southern SportMods – 1. Gabe Tucker; 2. Tim Clonch; 3. Robert Crabtree III; 4. Casey Brunson; 5. Damon Hammond; 6. Kyle Wisdom; 7. Terry Owen; 8. Justin Shaw; 9. Steve Hayes; 10. Kirk Martin; 11. Aaron Alley; 12. Trevor Lutz; 13. Dave Swafford; 14. Robby Edwards; 15. Devin Burgess; 16. Kevin Ward; 17. Justin Johnson; 18. Gary Underwood; 19. Bradley Poor; 20. Justin Boyd.