PENSACOLA, FL - There's nothing in the world like your first win.
Just ask Oakwood, GA's R.S. Senter, who powered to his first Pro Late Model victory Friday night at 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL.
Senter was the dominant car for a long time Friday night. He blistered the pavement in qualifying with a fast lap of 16.552 seconds.
When the opener began, Senter shot out front and never sweated a charge from either former NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Johanna Long or Garrett Jones, as that pair battled for second for 19 of the 20 laps.
"I love coming to Pensacola," Senter said. We had some transmission problems earlier in today. We got it changed and the car was fast."
Long finished in second, with Jones in third, Steven Davis in fourth and Bryce Dulahban in fifth.
After the 14-car field was inverted following the first feature, 14-year old Garrett Jones would take his turn in victory lane by scoring his first PLM victory at 5 Flags.
Jones nipped Junior Niedecken - one of Five Flags' first sons - at the line in the Allen Turner Pro Late Model Series split feature finale to earn the win.
The crowd erupted with cheers as the pair raced door-to-door on the final lap. Jones passed Niedecken coming out of turn 4 and he won the drag race to a photo finish.
"Man, I can't believe this," an overjoyed Jones said. "It's been a long time coming, for sure. We've had our ups and downs, but this is definitely an up."
Senter finished in third, with Dulahban in fourth and Ryan Luza in fifth.
Long came home sixth in the second feature. Coupled with her second place finish in the first feature, the 2010 Snowball Derby champion Johanna Long now sits atop the standings of the Allen Turner PLM Series, leading Niedecken by 18 points.
"I don't get to race a whole lot anymore," Long said. "We've got a decent car that's come a long way."
The return of Dave Mader III turned heads and caught eyes of fans and drivers alike.
The 1978 Snowball Derby champion, who famously outdueled future NASCAR star Mark Martin, was hopeful for a triumphant return.
Yet it was Pace's Todd Jones making it two-for-two in 2014, as he passed Mader on Lap 18 of the 25-lap Faith Chapel Super Stocks feature and never looked back.
"The racecar was pretty good," Jones said. "It definitely felt pretty fast. Anytime you can pass Dave Mader, you know you're doing pretty good. I just wanted to move him a little bit; I didn't want to turn him. And we raced each other clean."
Brannon Fowler appears poised to challenge the Beef "O" Brady's Sportsman record books.
The Molino driver has picked up right where Steve Buttrick left off in 2013.
Fowler took the lead from Shanna Ard on Lap 13 of the 25-lapper and hoisted his third checkered flag in four races this year.
Fowler set the fast time in qualifying (20.743), but started sixth after the invert.
"We rolled a six on the dice, so that's some good racing right there," Fowler said. "We got into Shanna a bit, and I certainly apologize for that. We've had some good races, me and him.
"It was a fun night. This is our sixth win overall, counting Mobile (International Speedway). It's been a great season."
Hunter Ward is erasing all doubts.
If anyone wondered if the Pensacola youngster could stay atop the Butler U-Pull-It Bombers points standings, Ward quickly silenced those skeptics with his second consecutive win Friday night.
Ward was the fast car in qualifying (22.010), but Robert Balkum controlled the tempo early on in the 20-lap feature.
But on lap 5, Balkum's No. 52 almost came to a complete stop on the back straightaway, a victim of a parts failure.
Ward took over the lead on Lap 14 and never surrendered it down the stretch.
"I kinda figured I had it in the bag when Robert left," Ward said. "He put on a great show at the beginning."