By Trevor Gonzales
(Eastaboga, AL)- Never in the history of the Ice Bowl at The Talladega Short Track has there been a driver that has won the early January race three years in a row. That all changed Sunday evening when Douglasville, Georgia native Michael Page overcame mechanical issues halfway through the feature and passed Cory Hedgecock on Lap 40 to lead the final ten circuits of the $6,000 to win race. With the win, Page joins Shane Clanton with the most Ice Bowl victories (3). After a phenomenal 2018 season that included 14 victories in numerous touring series, Page kicked off the new season with a bang for the third year in a row.
There were 42 super late model entries with drivers from 9 different states including Louisiana, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Missouri. J.T Seawright of Fort Payne, Alabama was the fastest overall qualifier on Saturday afternoon during preliminary action with a lap of 14.978 seconds, becoming the only driver to crack into the 14 second bracket during qualifying.
The qualifying results would be split into 4 groups by way of pill draw and each group would have a heat race with the top 4 finishers locking themselves into the Sunday feature. In the first heat race, Page would lead all 10 laps and cruise to a victory, securing the 4th starting position for Sunday’s feature. Joining Page would be Clay Harris, Jason Hiett, and Jackson Hale. Loudon, Tennessee driver Cory Hedgecock would start on the pole and win the second heat race and win. He would secure the third starting position. Also advancing into the feature would be David Seibers, Josh Adkins, and Missouri driver Dylan Hoover. Austin Horton would cruise to a heat race 3 victory while clinching the outside pole position followed by Andy Picklesimer, Dallas Cooper, and 2016 Ice Bowl winner David Brannon. The fourth and final heat race on Saturday evening for the Super Late Models would be won by the 2009 and 2012 Ice Bowl winner Ray Cook from Brasstown, North Carolina. Cook would be the pole sitter for the 50 lap, $6,000 to win feature. Tom Maddox, Joseph Brown, and Scott Crigler would lock themselves into the feature as well. Trouble would occur for overall fast qualifier J.T Seawright who started on the pole for the heat. On the very first lap, he would spin out battling for the lead with Brown and going to the pits, resulting in him restarting from the tail end of the field.
With 16 drivers locked into the feature from preliminary action on Saturday night, the remainder of the field would be set with two, 12-lap B-Mains with the top four finishers advancing on Sunday afternoon. On a very warm Sunday afternoon, it would be Tanner English from Benton, Kentucky driving the Tommy Pope Construction owned #22 Longhorn Chassis machine. J.T Seawright would finish second in the B-Main and advance along with Mark Bangs and Corey Posey. In the second B-Main, 6th starting Chris Jones from Alabaster, Alabama would spin halfway through the race bringing out the caution. Restarting 10th, Jones would ride the topside cushion, getting huge momentum runs off of Turns 2 & 4 as he would already be in second place 2 laps after he brought out the caution. Following a late caution, Jones would get around racelong leader Dewayne Kiefer with a crossover move in Turn 2 en route to a victory. Jones would win and lock himself into the feature followed by Jimmy Elkins, Brett White, and Kiefer.
Dillon Tidmore and Tim Roszell would receive track provisionals and would start the feature 25th and 26th respectively.
The green flag would wave for the $6,000 to win feature as polesitter Ray Cook would spin his tires coming to the green allowing Austin Horton, Cory Hedgecock, and Michael Page to get around him. Horton would lead the first lap of the race as the first caution of the feature would wave on Lap 2 as 5th place starting Tom Maddox would slow with mechanical issues and retire for the rest of the night.
On the Lap 2 restart, Hedgecock would power past Horton and take the lead. One lap later on Lap 3, Page would get around Horton for the second spot. Hedgecock and Page would begin to set a torrid pace on the field with Page closely behind Hedgecock. On Lap 15, Hedgecock would reach lapped traffic as he would try to fend off Page for the lead. One lap later on Lap 16, Page would get around Hedgecock in Turns 3 & 4 passing him on the outside and bringing the crowd to their feet. The second caution of the race would occur on the same lap as Jimmy Elkins would spin in Turn 2. On the ensuing restart, Page would lead closely over Hedgecock, Horton, Cook, and Dallas Cooper. 10th starting Josh Adkins would make his way up to 6th place on Lap 19 after starting 10th.On the same lap, Cook would pass Horton for 3rd place. Page would still hold about a half of a second lead over Hedgecock in lapped traffic at the halfway point.
The turning point of the feature would occur on Lap 26 as Page would momentarily slow coming off of Turn 2 with brake issues. Hedgecock would breeze by him for the lead as Page would seem to have been done for the night. After going down the backstretch, he was able to get his car back on track and at full speed but he also ost the second spot to Cook. Hedgecock had a sizeable lead over Cook and Page until on Lap 30 when the final caution flag of the race flew for the lapped car of Dylan Hoover who would come down on Page coming off of Turn 4, making contact, and hitting the wall, ending his night.
On the Lap 30 restart, Page would immediately overtake Cook for the second position and stay on the back bumper of the leader Hedgecock. Things would stay the same for the ensuing 10 laps as Page would inch closer and closer to the #9 of Hedgecock waiting on an opening on the bottom-dominant track. With 10 laps to go, Page finally found an opening. Running Hedgecock up the track in Turns 1 & 2, Page would once again regain the lead. Hedgecock would stay close behind Page trying his best to end the streak and even dive bombed his car into Turns 3 and 4 on the final lap. However, Page had too far of a lead and Hedgecock would spin out in Turn 4 resulting in Michael Page winning his third consecutive Ice Bowl crown. Ray Cook would finish second and Austin Horton would round out the podium. Dallas Cooper would finish fourth and Joseph Brown would finish fifth. Completing the top ten would be Andy Picklesimer, David Brannon, Josh Adkins, David Seibers, and JT Seawright.
Talladega Short Track: 2019 Ice Bowl Feature Results: $6,000 to win
1.18x Michael Page- Douglasville, GA
2.53 Ray Cook- Brasstown, NC
3.16 Austin Horton- Newnan, GA
4.35 Dallas Cooper- Talladega, AL
5.92 Joseph Brown- Columbus, GA
6.1P Andy Picklesimer- Ootelwah, TN
7.33 David Brannon- Elora, TN
8.57 Josh Adkins, Cumming, GA
9.18 David Seibers- Chapel Hill, TN
10.16 JT Seawright- Fort Payne, AL
11.1 Jason Hiett- Oxford, AL
12.12 Scott Crigler- Alton, MO
13.22x Jackson Hale- Southside, AL
14.22E Tanner English- Benton, KY
15.25 Tim Roszell- Anniston, AL
16.6 Clay Harris- Jupiter, FL
17.0 Dewayne Kiefer- Ste. Genevieve, MO
18.38 Dillon Tidmore, Gadsden, AL
19.46 Chris Jones- Alabaster, AL
20.9 Cory Hedgecock- Loudon, TN
21.44 Brett White- Kosciusko, MS
22.07 Jimmy Elkins- Talladega, AL
23.376 Mark Bangs- Fort Payne, AL
24.1H Dylan Hoover- Columbia, MO
25.16 Corey Posey- Fayetteville, TN
26.07 Tom Maddox- Centre, AL
The next race that Racing Performance Media will have LIVE coverage of will be Saturday, January 26th and Sunday, January 27th at East Alabama Motor Speedway for the National 100 paying $20,000 to win