Bill Frye Wins Winter Classic
By Tim O'Brien
COLUMBUS, MS. The 2002 season got started the way it ended at Columbus Speedway with a packed pit area of 171 competitors ready to do battle and a good crowd on hand braving the cool and breezy February Saturday afternoon conditions. Drivers from nine states were on hand to take on the popular Columbus Speedway high banks masterminded by track operator Johnny Stokes.
The main event of the day was the 2nd Annual Mississippi Winter Championship for the Super Late Models presented by Jay Dickens Racing Engines of Aberdeen, Mississippi. The 45-lap event was won by Greenbriar, Arkansas driver Bill Frye in his Kuntz built Ford Spec powered GRT Mustang sponsored by Petroff Towing riding on Hoosier tires. Frye went flag to flag in taking the win in the event that would be slowed by only one caution that came on lap ten. Frye would be constantly pressured by Oxford, Alabama driver James Cline after Cline set fast time of the 58 entries by nearly breaking the track record with an elapsed time of 13.62 on the 3/10's mile clay oval. Cline and the top four cars would pressure Frye throughout the duration of the event as the leaders ran in nose to tail fashion on the wind and sun baked rubbered over surface, but passing was at a premium and Frye guarded the low line successfully.
Frye claimed the $5,000 top prize followed by Cline driving the #07 Joe Minga owned GRT with young upstart driver Keith Hayes of Morris, Alabama in third. The top five was rounded out by first time visitor Jody Summerville of Rome, Georgia coming off a big win at the 2002 ICE BOWL and Cuba, Alabama's Mike Boland came in fifth after running third for the majority of the event only to slip to fifth in the final laps of the event. The remainder of the top ten was Anthony Rushing, Steve Russell, Rick Rickman, Mike Head, and Kenny Merchant.