auto racing

Easley’s Anders wins big check at Myrtle Beach Speedway

ablondin@thesunnews.comMarch 22, 2013 

— Anthony Anders of Easley didn’t have to be clairvoyant to see good fortune in his future Saturday night near the end of the 20th annual Myrtle Beach 400 at Myrtle Beach Speedway.

He was able to see it coming right in front of him.

Anders was running third going into the first turn on the final lap when Ben Rhodes of Louisville, Ky., ran into the back of leader Justin Milliken – who was protecting his leading position – allowing Anders to claim the win and $10,000.

“I knew when he took him out I was going to be the winner,” a jubilant Anders said. “I know [Rhodes] nudged him out of there, and he was going to win the race regardless. But we were there the second half of the race where it counts.”

The 31-car 250-lap race is part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Late Model Series, the lowest of the five divisions NASCAR governs, and included eight Myrtle Beach Speedway regulars. The outcome largely came down to two of them.

Anders was the 2012 Myrtle Beach Speedway track champion and Milliken, of Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., was the 2011 track champion. They were running a strong 1-2 before a caution with 10 laps remaining because of debris on the track brought the 16-year-old Rhodes into the mix.

“We didn’t really need that caution there at the end,” said Anders, who started near the back of the pack. “Milliken was really good there. Before that next-to-last caution we had a pretty good car; getting around him was going to be another thing.”

The win is Anders’ fourth consecutive victory at three different tracks, including Greenville and Kingsport, Tenn.

Rhodes was penalized for rough driving and was credited with a 16th-place finish. Milliken was credited with a 17th-place finish.

“I’m real upset,” Milliken said. “We’re a family team. We work regular jobs. We’re racing against people that have Cup crew chiefs, and to get dumped by some little rich punk … If he were under me I would have let him go. I can’t afford to tear up this car. He drove slam over me. He’ll get to race tomorrow and we’ll get to go home.”

Rhodes later told his public relations firm STIX FX Entertainment that he believed Milliken had slipped off his line, giving him an opening to make a move on the inside of the track.

“We came off turn four and the leader looked like he spun his tires,” Rhodes said in a release. “He got sideways and went up the track, so I turned my car low and held the low line down the front stretch and into turn one. I had the line and he I guess decided he was going to block me. He chopped across the nose of my car and spun out.”

Rhodes came around to take the caution flag as the leader, but a lap later under yellow, the flagman gave the checkered flag to Anders behind him.

“I do not understand that call,” Rhodes said. “If I went in there and ran over the leader I could understand it, but that isn’t what happened. He lost control of his car coming off turn four and gave up the inside line. I had the inside line and angle down the whole front stretch and going into the corner, and I didn’t change my line going in. I stayed low and he cut down from the upper groove to the lower without being clear. I had no time to check up and I am not sure exactly what I did wrong there. If I had time to react maybe I could have just backed out and let him win the race, but why would anyone do that? I don’t know any racers that would just move over and say “here you go, have my line and the victory” on the last lap. That doesn’t make sense.”

“. . . That was very disappointing, but [NASCAR officials] made their call and I have to live with it. I would have rather raced hard side by side for the win. If I was him I would have crowded down a bit in turn one or set up a cross-over move, but not just turn hard left and cause a wreck."

A spinout by Japan’s Akinori Ogata caused the first of several cautions on lap 48, with David Roberts of the Greenville area leading.

A six-car pileup in Turn 1 on lap 134 ended the race for Will Burns, and caused damage to a few cars, including the No. 7 of Brent Brinson of Loris. Brinson is the three-time Myrtle Beach Speedway track champion – the last title coming in 2008.

A second wreck in Turn 1 just 20 laps later ended the evening for Trey Marcham and Roberts.

Roberts and Jeremy McDowell of Conway worked their way to the front in the first 30 laps to overtake pole sitter Sam Yarbrough of Ocean Isle Beach and lead a few of the early laps, along with Yarbrough.

Roberts started in the seventh of 16 rows in the 31-car race, while McDowell started in the eighth row. Though the wreck on lap 153 claimed Roberts, McDowell had the lead coming out of that accident before falling back and spinning out on lap 215.

McDowell won the 2005 National Shortrack points championship while dominating action that year at Myrtle Beach Speedway.

Milliken, who began the race in the second row, held the lead coming out of the pit stop at the race’s midway point, regained it before lap 200 and essentially held it until the final lap.

The race also included three-time Myrtle Beach 400 winner Frank Deiny Jr. of Virginia, and 15-year-old third-generation racecar driver Tyler “Blaze” Howell of Florence.

The $56,000 race had been postponed from November because of inclement weather.

More than $100,000 will be paid out throughout the weekend’s events. Speedway action continues with today’s Spring Challenge at the Beach, which features a 150-lap NASCAR Late Model Race paying $5,000 to the winner scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m., as well as Mini Mayhem, Southeast Limited Late Model Challenger and Limited Late Model Pro races.

SELLM 100

Darlington’s Jamie Weatherford won the South East Limited Late Model 100-lap race.

Weatherford had to endure two green-white-checkered flags following a crash on lap 98.

Three-time SELLM champion Chris Chapman took second, with Ryan Glenski, Shane Lee and Bobby June rounding out the top 5.

Mullins’ Michael Elliott was taken to the hospital for observation after being involved in a multi-car crash on lap 98. His injuries were not believed to be serious.

•  Top 10–1. Jamie Weatherford; 2. Chris Chapman; 3. Ryan Glenski; 4. Shane Lee; 5. Bobby June; 6. Barry Andrews; 7. Christian PaHud; 8. Ben Stanton; 9. Jerry Miracle; 10. Logan Bunning.

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.

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