Leary lands $10k in Richard Griffin Classic

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November 7, 2015  |  by Lonnie Wheatley

C.J. Leary saved the best of the weekend for last by wiring the field to take the $10,000 winner’s share in Saturday night’s Inaugural Richard Griffin Classic atop the 5/16-mile Southern New Mexico Speedway clay oval.

The Greenfield, IN, native fought off a host of early challengers and then survived a bid from Brady Bacon just seven laps shy of the checkered flag in the 40-lapper to secure the lucrative triumph aboard the Leary Construction No. 30 non-wing Sprint Car.

“I saw Brady at the end and used the lapped car as a pick,” Leary explained of Bacon’s near pass for the lead at the stripe on the 33rd lap. “It was good timing for us.”

Among the most pivotal moves of the night for Leary was his last lap pass of Kevin Thomas, Jr., for second in the Casa Nissan Pole Dash that awarded $500 to winner Ryan Bernal.

That pass of the Friday night preliminary winner moved Leary to the front row outside for the finale and he took full advantage of it, gunning into the lead ahead of Bernal at the outset.

Reigning USAC Southwest champion R.J. Johnson race past Thursday night winner Bernal for second in the early going and challenged for the lead until Bernal stepped up the pace and recaptured second after eight laps.

Bernal slipped over the turn four banking on the 13th round though and fell back to tenth with Johnson’s challenges cut short as well when he went up in smoke at the midway point.

Bacon was on the move from fifth in the Josh Ford Motorsports No. 73 and gave chase from second at the midway point. Closing in on a lapped car in the final ten rounds, Bacon nearly took advantage only to ultimately get trapped behind the lapped car himself.

“I thought I was gonna set him up and use the lapped car to my advantage, but I ended up getting messed up instead,” Bacon said afterward.

The lapped car brought Kevin Thomas, Jr., back into the mix, with Thomas, Jr., and Bacon battling it out for second over the final half-dozen laps as Leary slipped away to take the big payday.

Bacon outlasted Thomas, Jr., over the final rounds for runner-up honors with Thomas, Jr., settling for third in the RW Motorsports No. 17rw.

“Third isn’t where I wanted to be, I made some mistakes early that cost me and had to race my way back up there,” Thomas, Jr., said afterward.

Shon Deskins stayed among the lead group throughout before finishing fourth with Dave Darland rounding out the top five. Charles Davis, Jr., was sixth with Bernal, 15th-starter Casey Shuman, Mike Martin and Chris Windom completing the top ten.

Inaugural Richard Griffin Classic Saturday Night Finale Results
Southern New Mexico Speedway:

Top Six in Combined Points Locked in from Qualifying Nights:

56-Ryan Bernal, 17rw-Kevin Thomas, Jr., 77m-R.J. Johnson, 30-C.J. Leary, 20-Shon Deskins, 73x-Brady Bacon.

Heat Races (Top 3 to Rows 4-6 of Feature)

First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 16-Mike Martin, 2. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 3. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 4. 17w-Harli White, 5. 22b-Chris Windom, 6. 32b-Brian Hosford, 7. 26-Randy Smith.

Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. 16d-Dave Darland, 2. 5-Tye Mihocko, 3. 74b-John Carney II, 4. 38-Casey Shuman, 5. 7-Jesse Baker, 6. 56w-Spencer Hill. DNS: 9-Robert Herrera.

Casa Nissan Pole Dash (6 Laps – Finishing Order Determines Front Three Rows of Feature):

Pole Dash: 1. 56-Ryan Bernal (1), 2. 30-C.J. Leary (4), 3. 17rw-Kevin Thomas, Jr. (2), 4. 77m-R.J. Johnson (3), 5. 73x-Brady Bacon (6), 6. 20-Shon Deskins (5).

“B” Main (Finish Sets Remainder of Feature Lineup):

“B” Main (8 Laps): 1. 22b-Chris Windom, 2. 32b-Brian Hosford, 3. 38-Casey Shuman, 4. 7-Jesse Baker, 5. 17w-Harli White, 6. 56w-Spencer Hill, 7. 9-Robert Herrera, 8. 26-Randy Smith.

“A” Feature (40 Laps – Starting position in parentheses): 1. 30-C.J. Leary (2), 2. 73x-Brady Bacon (5), 3. 17rw-Kevin Thomas, Jr. (3), 4. 20-Shon Deskins (6), 5. 16d-Dave Darland (8), 6. 50-Charles Davis, Jr. (9), 7. 56-Ryan Bernal (1), 8. 38-Casey Shuman (15), 9. 16-Mike Martin (7), 10. 22b-Chris Windom (13), 11. 17w-Harli White (17), 12. 5-Tye Mihocko (10), 13. 74b-John Carney II (12), 14. 7-Jesse Baker (16), 15. 9-Robert Herrera (19), 16. 26-Randy Smith (20), 17. 77m-R.J. Johnson (4), 18. 32b-Brian Hosford (14), 19. 56w-Spencer Hill (18), 20. 87-Aaron Reutzel (11).

Lap Leaders: C.J. Leary 1-40.