Mark Ruel, Jr. claims USCS Georgia State Sprint Car Championship Race at Lavonia Speedway

Mark Ruel Jr. USCS Photo

By Pete Walton
Lavonia, GA – August 12, 2022 – Jacksonville, Florida’s Mark Ruel, Jr. raced from the K&N Filters Pole Position into the lead in turn one past front row companion Morgan Havener (formerly Turpen) from Goodlettsville, Tennessee to lead every lap of the 30-lap USCS Georgia State Championship Race at Lavonia Speedway on Friday night. It was Ruel’s career sixth USCS trip to victory lane.

Ruel had to fend off Havener for the first half of the contest until her #10m mount coast to a stop exiting turn four at the races mid-point ending her night. After Havener left the track surface, her team-mate, 13-time USCS National Champion and recent National Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductee, Terry Gray from Bartlett, Tennessee took up the chase when the green flag wave.

Eric Riggins, Jr. from Charlotte, North Carolina got past Gray to trail behind Mark Ruel, Jr. while dogging him at every opportunity in lapped traffic , but, could never make a winning pass over the final thirteen laps of the 30-lap contest. Riggins was within a half car length several times before the final caution of three during the contest created a restart with three laps to go.

On the final restart with clear air in front of him Ruel opened a five-car length lead while Riggins had to hold off Terry Gray for the runner-up spot. Gray garnered the last podium spot in third place as the trio crossed under the checkers. Terry Witherspoon, also from Jacksonville, Florida followed Gray in fourth place and long-distance traveler, Jeffrey Newell from Tulsa, Oklahoma rounded out the top five drivers.

Hayden Martin from Byhalia, Mississippi, who is a senior college student at Ole Miss led the next group in sixth place followed by another young gun, Alex Lyles from Arlington, Tennessee in seventh place. Braselton, Georgia’s second-generation sprint car driver and former USCS winner at the speedway, Matt Linder finished in eighth place. Former USCS Rookie of the Year and current runner-up position racer, Jeff Willingham from Ripley, Mississippi followed Linder in ninth place. Another Georgia driver, Brian Thomas from Pendergrass rounded out the top ten.

The evening’s heat race winners were Terry Gray in the Engler Machine and Tool First Heat. Then, Hayden Campbell from Montverde, Florida collected the win in the JJ Supply Second Heat Race and Morgan Havener (Turpen) won the Hero Graphics Third and final Heat Race. Mark Ruel, Jr. won the USCS Hoosier Speed Dash for the top six cars in passing points after the heat races. This awarded Ruel the K&N Filters Pole Position for the main event. Jeffrey Newell garnered the Wildwood Disc Brakes Hard Charger Award after starting thirteenth and finishing fifth in the A-Main.

The next USCS Outlaw Thunder Tour presented by K&N Filters is Saturday, August 13th at Senoia Raceway in Senoia, Georgia. The USCS Sprint Cars will be joined on Saturday night by an action-packed program of Late Model and Stock Car Racing. For more track and event info please go to For USCS info please go to

USCS Outlaw Thunder Tour Winged Sprint Cars at Lavonia Speedway, Lavonia, GA on Friday, August 12, 2022 results.

Feature (30 Laps): 1. 83-Mark Ruel Jr[1]; 2. 47-Eric Riggins Jr[5]; 3. 10-Terry Gray[3]; 4. 43-Terry Witherspoon[8]; 5. 12-Jeffrey Newell[13]; 6. 67M-Hayden Martin[6]; 7. 17-Alex Lyles[12]; 8. 51-Matt Linder[11]; 9. 28-Jeff Willingham[17]; 10. 67T-Brian Thomas[9]; 11. 99-Tanner Witherspoon[14]; 12. 7E-Eric Gunderson[15]; 13. 33-Joe Larkin[18]; 14. 4X-Scott Baldwin[16]; 15. 41-Luke Hill[7]; 16. B5-Brianna Lawson[20]; 17. 5-Hayden Campbell[4]; 18. 10M-Morgan Turpen[2]; 19. 20C-Anthony D’Alessio[10]; 20. (DNS) 0X-Clint Weiss

Hoosier Speed Dash (6 Laps): 1. 83-Mark Ruel Jr[4]; 2. 10M-Morgan Turpen[3]; 3. 10-Terry Gray[1]; 4. 5-Hayden Campbell[2]; 5. 47-Eric Riggins Jr[6]; 6. 67M-Hayden Martin[5]

Engler Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 10-Terry Gray[2]; 2. 41-Luke Hill[1]; 3. 67M-Hayden Martin[7]; 4. 17-Alex Lyles[4]; 5. 99-Tanner Witherspoon[5]; 6. 4X-Scott Baldwin[3]; 7. B5-Brianna Lawson[6]

JJ Supply of NC Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 5-Hayden Campbell[4]; 2. 83-Mark Ruel Jr[6]; 3. 67T-Brian Thomas[2]; 4. 20C-Anthony D’Alessio[5]; 5. 7E-Eric Gunderson[1]; 6. 28-Jeff Willingham[3]

HERO Graphics Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 10M-Morgan Turpen[1]; 2. 47-Eric Riggins Jr[4]; 3. 43-Terry Witherspoon[3]; 4. 51-Matt Linder[5]; 5. 12-Jeffrey Newell[6]; 6. 33-Joe Larkin[2]; 7. 0X-Clint Weiss[7]

Hot Laps 1: 1. 47-Eric Riggins Jr[12]; 2. 43-Terry Witherspoon[9]; 3. 12-Jeffrey Newell[18]; 4. 5-Hayden Campbell[11]; 5. 83-Mark Ruel Jr[17]; 6. 67T-Brian Thomas[5]; 7. 51-Matt Linder[15]; 8. 7E-Eric Gunderson[2]; 9. 67M-Hayden Martin[19]; 10. 41-Luke Hill[1]; 11. 33-Joe Larkin[6]; 12. 10-Terry Gray[4]; 13. 20C-Anthony D’Alessio[14]; 14. B5-Brianna Lawson[16]; 15. 28-Jeff Willingham[8]; 16. 99-Tanner Witherspoon[13]; 17. 4X-Scott Baldwin[7]; 18. 17-Alex Lyles[10]; 19. 10M-Morgan Turpen[3]; 20. 0X-Clint Weiss[20]