It was a one-sided beatdown, simple as that.
Augie Grill took the lead from Katie Hettinger on Lap 41 and led the remaining 59 laps to win the CRA JEGS Pro Late Model Tour portion of Speedfest by 3.147 seconds over Caden Kvapil. It was also actually the second consecutive Pro Late Model victory at Watermelon Capital Speedway for the Justin South owned No. 43 as the driver-owner also took it to Victory Lane in March in the Georgia Spring Nationals.
It’s a really good car driven by two really good drivers, most recently by the two-time Snowball Derby winner.
“The average age of the drivers in this race, besides me is what, 14?,” Grill joked in Victory Lane. “It’s good to whoop up on some kids every now and then. I haven’t had a car that good in a long time.
“It’s cool to come here to a pretty big deal race and win against a really good field. It’s a good step towards maybe getting my stuff right.”
To that point, Grill is also the chassis builder for the South car as it comes out of his GARC shop in Hayden, Alabama.
“I set the car up for Justin, and he normally drives it, but he had something come up,” Grill said. “Jeff (South, dad) asked me if I wanted to come drive it and I can’t turn down a good car to run a race with. I appreciate them, Alabama Brick and Delivery, Hamner Engine, GARC and all my guys that came with us.
“I haven’t won a Late Model race in three to four years and it feels good to pass the car we passed and drive away from them. Like I said, maybe we’re in the right direction now.”
It’s his first win in a Late Model since a Montgomery Motor Speedway show on March 2 2019. He also won two World Series of Asphalt races that February at New Smyrna.
And again, Grill won by a straightaway.
“When it’s that good, you hate to check up and save, but you’re supposed to for a late caution,” Grill said. “It felt like, the harder I drove it, honestly, the better it drove. Luckily, it held together.”
Like Grill said, he hopes this is a turnaround for the GARC program, which used to be one of the most revered and unbeatable programs in the Southeast.
“I hope this is the start of a Late Model stretch,” Grill said. “We’re going to take our Super to the Rattler 250 in a couple of weeks and see if we have something for them there. I think we have something we can work with after some rough years.
“I want to thank Chris Mitchell. He’s come up with a lot of good ideas and R&D to get us in the right direction. It’s paying off.”
CRA JEGS PLM TOUR SPEEDFEST
January 28 2023
Watermelon Capital Speedway
1. Augie Grill
2. Caden Kvapil
3. Michael Hinde
4. Cale Hall
5. Dylan Fetcho
6. Katie Hettinger
7. Bryson Shaffer
8. Seth Christensen
9. Brett Suggs
10. Cody Hall
11. Steve Dorer
12. Zack Dixon
13. Jolynn Wilkinson
14. Robby Taylor
15. Spencer Bragg
16. Johnny Aramendia
17. Kyle McCallum
18. Joseph Meyer
19. David Ragan
20. Gavin Graham
21. Josh Hicks
22. Benjamin Jones
23. Dawson Sutton
24. Nicholas Naugle
25. Brian Demland