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Drivers will have two chances to win this weekend -- one in Columbus

 

By David Miller, Special to The Dispatch

 

There's a chance a Super Late Model driver can make $6,000 in two days this weekend. 

 

But like any major cash grab, whether it's the level of competition or the challenges of a particular track, completing the task will be more difficult than a typical race weekend. 

 

Super Late Model drivers throughout the state will compete in Mississippi State Championship Challenge Series races tonight and Saturday with dual $3,000 purses and portions of a $1,000 bonus for drivers who finish in with the top three points collected from both tracks over the weekend. Drivers will race at 7 tonight at North Alabama Speedway in Tuscumbia, Alabama, and at 7 p.m. Saturday at Columbus Motor Speedway. 

 

"Should be some bad boys in the house," said Joe Ables, track manager at Columbus Speedway. 

 

The MSCCS added Tuscumbia to the slate after several rainouts this season. Three series races will follow after this weekend's features are complete. 

 

David Breazeale, of Oktibbeha County, leads the state points series with 1,205. New Hope drivers Brian and Rick Rickman, are 65 and 75 points, respectively, behind Breazeale. 

 

Breazeale has won the state series twice; Brian Rickman is searching for his first state series win. 

 

With a quick turnaround between races, there should be a premium and decided advantage on reloading and repairing Saturday morning. But most drivers in the series have backup cars, Breazeale said. The repairs teams will make are the same they'd normally have throughout the week, just in one day, Brian Rickman said. 

 

"You know what the car needs -- it's a routine," Rickman said. "Some people fix their coffee, then shower, then do their hair to start their day. It's kind of hard to explain, but it doesn't take long when you have a couple of people working with you." 

 

Rickman said he's fortunate he's only a couple of hours from Tuscumbia, so he can bring his car back to the shop for repairs. Other drivers without that luxury likely will start working on their cars shortly after tonight's race. The key for all drivers to have a smooth turnaround is to make it through tonight in one piece. North Alabama can break you -- frighteningly -- at any given moment, though. The fast track with short turns doesn't have walls along the outside rim of the track. 

 

"You'll end up upside downs in the woods," Rickman said. "It's a little on the dark and dangerous side. It's an old track, and it's good when it's good and bad when it's bad." 

 

Breazeale, who has raced at the track for the past 10 years, has taken the plunge at Tuscumbia. 

 

"The back straightaway is basically a 40-yard embankment into a tree line," he said. "It's a bank, and then it's nothing. I've run off it before. It's not a good feeling. You have to race hard, but you have to race smart and keep your car on the track." 

 

Neither Rickman nor Breazeale have raced at Tuscumbia in nearly four years, but both drivers quickly recall the reputation the track, which Breazeale says isn't run very often, has earned over the years. 

 

"There was a quarter of excitement at the news, but the other thought was, 'What was the track prep gonna be like? How well would it hold up?' It's not being raced regularly, so you worry about track prep. I do enjoy racing there, though." 

 

The Columbus Speedway is well-maintained, run regularly, and familiar to both drivers. It has appeared three times on the MSCCS series this far. It's similar to Tuscumbia in the type of dirt (red clay) and the short, tight-turn layouts, Rickman said. Miscalculation or misfortune will be magnified in back-to-back races, in a tight points race. Drivers must find a balance between racing hard and racing smart, Breazeale said. 

 

"If this was the last race of the season, I'd feel a lot better (about current points lead)," Breazeale said. "One bad night and (Brian Rickman) can be right there with me again. We have to finish each race strong and not do anything stupid. As long as we take care of our equipment and don't make any bad decisions, we'll be up front." 

 

Limited Late Models, 602 Stock Late Models, Street Stocks and Mini-Stocks divisions also will be featured at Columbus.

 

 

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