July 26, 2014 2:22:00 PM
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
By DAVID MILLER
Special to The Dispatch
Big money brings out the big guns.
Two area regulars at Columbus Speedway will try to hold off out-of-towners during a 25-lap, $1,000-to-win street stock special on Saturday.
Super late models often yield the larger purses at the track, particularly when a state or regional series runs at the track. But as much as twice a year, Columbus ups the ante for the division.
"We're gonna have to tighten up this weekend," said Lee Ray, of Lowndes County. "From what I'm hearing, we'll have close to 35 cars show up."
Ray won a street stocks race at Columbus two weeks ago, and he's the reigning winner of the street stock points title at the track.
He's currently second in track points behind Jamie Sudduth, of Millport, Alabama. Sudduth won the street stock race last week at Columbus.
"It's a big race for us," Sudduth said. "The competition will be much tougher this weekend."
Sudduth and Ray expect to be near the top of the order Saturday, but both drivers said their positions during the last few laps will hinge greatly on how well they qualify.
Another factor could be the condition of the track, which, two weeks ago, dried up and had one lane, according to several drivers.
"If I had to guess, I'd say it'll be one lane again," said Sudduth. "The sun burns all the water out of that track. But you can't wet it too uch because it gets rough. That makes qualifying very important and if you don't, hope they wreck in front of you."
Ray, however, doesn't think the track will default to a one-lane groove.
"We ain't got to practice this week, so I bet the track will be in good shape this week," Ray said. "We had a pretty good rain here -- I live three to four miles from track. That ought to help.
"You're still gonna need to qualify good for this deal," he added. "You got guys like Calvin Cook from Northport runs good, Jamie Sudduth and several locals are going to be tough to beat."
One thing both drivers can't afford is a DNF, a situation that wrecked Sudduth's shot at winning the track points title in 2013. Sudduth entered the final race of the season leading the points race, but he blew a motor and fell to third place. Ray ended up winning the points trophy.
"You gotta get points out of your mind and go," said Ray. "Maybe we'll duke it out to the wire again. Tony Sylvester, he was leading and got a DNF two weeks ago."
Hubbard owns more than 12 wins at Columbus but hasn't won one of the two $1,000 races held annually.
"Not yet, but I've been in a lot of top-fives in those races," Sudduth said.