Frye Claims 5th Annual Jambalaya 100
By Steve Molnar
MAGNOLIA, MS. Bill Frye started on the pole and led every lap to claim the 5th Annual O'Reilly SUPR Jambalaya 100 at Pike County Speedway. Frye survived minor damage to his Kuntz and Company Ford spec motor when a valve head broke with 15 laps to go to but was able to hold on to claim the win. Frye who was fast right out of the box, set the fast time in qualifying with a 17.00 second lap around the 3/8 mile oval, "The car felt really good, at the fuel stop I thought the track couldn't get any slicker, I just thought it would take rubber and get faster so we put a lot of gas in it and didn't try to tighten it up, it was free and I could really roll the car around. Really all weekend I don't think we ever had to change it." Frye drove theUnifirst/Petroff Towing/Night Moves Racing GRT to his first 10th victory with the O'Reilly SUPR Late Model Series but his first since 1998. Frye summed his weekend when he stated, "We didn't tear anything up, we didn't kill a bunch of tires, this was a successful mission".
But Marlon Wild wasn't going to let Frye take home the victory without a fight. Wild, who started 14th, made a charge just prior to the fuel stop to climb to 3rd at the halfway mark. Lap 63 saw Wild move by Diamond Dave Siegert to grab second but any hopes he had of catching Frye were deflated when his right rear tire started to go away, finally letting go in the final few laps. Still, despite the flat tire, Marlon Wild was able to hold on to second ahead of a fast closing Kenny Merchant.
Kenny Merchant may well have been the fastest car on the track at the checkers, but as he relayed after the feature, his tires took way too long in coming around. Merchant was firmly planted in the top 5 throughout the race but was unable to mount a serious challenge until the waning stages of the race.
Diamond Dave Siegert started out his night by winning the UMP Modified feature driving on of his Diamond D Racing Modified. Siegert then jumped into his Late Model and put on an impressive charge moving up from 9th to 2nd by the fuel stop. Siegert's right rear tire began to fade and he was forced to ease off in hopes of reaching the finish. Siegert did reach the finish just ahead of Rob Litton. David Ashley and Kevin Watts were the last pair on the lead lap when the checkers waved.
Kevin Weaver made a surprise appearance at the Jambalaya 100 and he appeared to be in a strong position to do battle with Frye as he started on the outside pole. Unfortunately for Weaver, the torque arm bolt snapped going into turn one on the start and his night was finished. Last year's winner Rodney Wing also dropped out without a lap complete as he suffered a broken left front assembly as he spun in turn 4. Scott Slay and Al Purkey got caught up in the deal and went to the rear. Slay and Purkey both put on a good show as they charged back into the top 10 before both drivers retired early, Slay on lap 67 and Purkey on lap 79.
Mike Boland was one of the few cars capable of running with Frye in the early stages but he dropped out on lap 17 with what appeared to be motor trouble. Steve Russell made some impressive early moves and just as soon as he moved up to 4th place he had a head gasket go away and he retired the very next lap.
The race was slowed by just 4 cautions, two before the race could get underway, one on lap 17 for Boland and one on lap 55 for a spin by Donald Watson.
Frye lapped all but the top 7 cars in the feature, with most of the field lapped by the fuel stop on lap 50.