Bennett takes two out of three over Wahdan to pick up win #7 on 2nd Annual Rack Race

Keith Bennett and Eddie Wahdan

Eddie Wahdan, who came from the loss side to finish as runner-up at Stop #7 of the 2nd Annual Rack Race on Saturday, April 20, began recording cash payouts on regional tours at about the time that Keith Bennett, who would go undefeated to the hot seat and eventually, claim the event title, began a five-year hiatus from the tables. Prior to this year, when he began the first of four cash-winning appearances on the Rack Race series, Keith Bennett had not recorded a win or cash payout with us here at AZBilliards since 2019, when he won the Q City 9-Ball’s NC 9-Ball Open in May and cashed in three other events (he reportedly was not totally absent from the tables, just not attending and earning cash at regionally reported tournaments). Wahdan began recording his income-earning exploits with us in May of 2021, finishing fourth at a stop on the Q City 9-Ball Tour, after which he finished in the same spot, twice, in 2022. Last year, Wahdan switched his income stream to embrace the Rack Race, finishing 4th last May (Stop #2) and at stop #15 in August, which was won by Roberts, Wahdan finished 9th.

At this most recent, $1,000-added stop on the Race, which drew 48 entrants to Rack & Grill III in Aiken, SC, Bennett and Wahdan faced each other three times; in a winners’ side quarterfinal and the two-set final. The two emerged from a field that featured (among others) Josh Roberts, who arrived on the scene having won five of the Race’s second-season events, and Mike Davis, Jr., who’d won an event and finished as runner-up in another in the first year of the Rack Race; not to mention winning eight other events that turned 2023 into his best recorded earnings year since 2011. Roberts lost to Davis in a double-hill, third-round match. They both lost loss-side matches to Wahdan; Davis in the battles for 7th/8th, Roberts in the quarterfinals.

Racing to 6, Bennett’s path went through Ruben Soto (2) and Doug Cogdell (0), before taking up a double-hill challenge from Todd Blackwell. He faced and won his second straight, double-hill challenge and his first match versus Wahdan in a winners’ side quarterfinal, before drawing Jimmy Lee in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Rocky Lester, in the meantime, bound for the hot seat match from the other end of the bracket, went through Mike Wise (2), Rocky (Palmer) Guell (double-hill), Chris Reeves (3) and Calvin Le (2) to pick up James Council in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Bennett and Lester got into the hot seat match with 6-4 victories over Lee and Council. Bennett sent Lester off to the semifinals by the same score, claiming the seat.

As Bennett and Lester engaged in their battle for the hot seat, Roberts, Davis and Eddie Wahdan were still very much involved on the loss side. Roberts followed his loss to Davis with four straight, chalking up an aggregate game score of 20-6 and eliminating Justin Clark 5-1 and Calvin Le 5-3 to draw Jimmy Lee. Davis followed his winners’ side quarterfinal loss to Jimmy Lee with a 5-3 victory over Mike Wise and ran into Wahdan, who’d followed his loss to Bennett with a double-hill win over Darrel Williams and then, eliminated Davis 5-3 to draw Council.

Roberts and Wahdan defeated Lee and Council, both 5-2 and squared off for a match in the quarterfinal. That match went double hill before Wahdan prevailed, advancing to eliminate Rocky Lester 5-2 in the semifinal.

Momentum may have well played a role in the opening set of the double-elimination final. Wahdan defeated Keith Bennett 6-3. The second set went double hill. Bennett won it to claim his first (recorded) regional title in five years.

Rack & Grill owner Mike Newsome thanked his own Rack & Grill staff, his wife Avery Newsome and sponsors Predator, Iwan Simonis cloth, Newsome Distributing, Digital Pool, JTs Automotive Group, CSRA Machine Fab, Salazar (Certified Public Accountant), National Billiard Academy, Filta Environmental Kitchen Solutions, digitalpool and No B-S Billiards.

Stop #8 on the Rack Race series, scheduled for Saturday, May 4 at Rack & Grill II in Augusta, GA.

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