Truck racing rookie captures checkered flag at Bandit Series season opener

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Updated Apr 5, 2019
Bandit Series rookie racer Bendeguz Molnar earned $10,000 for his win Saturday at Mobile International Speedway.Bandit Series rookie racer Bendeguz Molnar earned $10,000 for his win Saturday at Mobile International Speedway.

The Bandit Big Rig Series started with a bang at Mobile International Speedway in Alabama on Saturday, March 23, with a truck racing newcomer earning his first oval track win and two racers flipping their rigs in separate crashes.

Bandit Series rookie Bendegúz Molnár, all the way from Budapest, Hungary, has been racing for a total of three years, but never on an oval track or in a truck. Molnár said in a pre-race interview that he won a European championship in the Suzuki Cup in Hungary and got the opportunity this year to come to the United States to take over the No. 16 rig previously driven by Tommy Boileau.

Molnár didn’t take long to find his way around the half-mile oval Saturday night, starting the race in second place and overtaking Bandit veteran Scott Treadway just three laps into the race. Two-time defending series champion Ricky “Rude” Proffitt worked his way up to second and stayed on Molnár’s rear bumper until a caution flag flew just four laps into the race.

Treadway’s 1978 Western Star got loose in turn one and left the track in the turn, which does not have a barrier wall to keep vehicles on the track. As the truck slid down the hill off the track, it flipped a total of three times before coming to a stop upright. Treadway was not injured in the crash and the cab of the truck sustained little damage. The rear axles, however, separated from the rest of the rig.

“I went off in the grass, then all of a sudden [the truck] started rolling,” Treadway said following the crash. “I’m not sure how many times I rolled, but they told me two or three. The truck is in about three pieces, but we’ve seen worse.”

When the race restarted after a lengthy red flag period, Molnár held onto the lead with Proffitt right behind him for the next 13 laps when another caution came out. This time, veteran racer Mark Noble collided with Bandit Series rookie Tim Ashley, sending Noble’s truck off the track in turn three, where it rolled over onto its right side going down the grassy hill behind the track. As with Treadway, Noble was uninjured in the crash.

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The race restarted once again after a red flag with 13 laps remaining in the race. Molnár once again held onto the lead during the restart and pulled away from Proffitt and the rest of the field as the laps ticked down to earn the win.

“It feels really good [to get the win],” Molnár said. “It was really tiring at the end. I have a lot of emotions. I’m very happy for this win. It’s very different than Hungary with road courses.”

Finishing behind Molnár were Proffitt, Marshall Davis, Craig Kruckeberg and Ashley.

The Bandit Big Rig Series racers will be off for a little over a month before returning to the track on Saturday, April 27, at Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina.