Waycross National Late Model Sportsman Series Report

'LOCOMOTIVE" STEAMS THE OKEFENOKEE Waycross, Ga. - Waycross (Ga.) Motor Speedway welcomed the National Late Model Sportsman Series back to the fast half-mile oval for the 'Okefenokee Show Down" and for the second time in as many races, a new...

'LOCOMOTIVE" STEAMS THE OKEFENOKEE

Waycross, Ga. - Waycross (Ga.) Motor Speedway welcomed the National Late Model Sportsman Series back to the fast half-mile oval for the 'Okefenokee Show Down" and for the second time in as many races, a new face graced Victory Lane at the end of the 100 lap grind. Johnny 'Locomotive' Collins of Jacksonville, Fla. driving the Russell Brown/Southern Style Racing Engines/Danny Clanton Motorsports Pontiac Grand Prix took the lead just 12 laps from the checkers and then held of the furious challenge of 1995 Series Champion Skip Pannell of Albany Ga. in the Hollywood GRT/Beaver/Budweiser/Southway Industrial Services Chevrolet Monte Carlo to take his first ever win on the Southern Dirt Tour. Michael Lloyd in the Snow Bros./Bennett Bros./Lumber Unlimited/Lloyd Land Clearing Chevrolet Monte Carlo pressed Pannell for the last quarter of the race came home third with Cecil Eunice of Blackshear, Ga. fourth and Lee Jackson of Brooklet, Ga finished fifth.

"This is fantastic!" an elated Collins commented after the race, "We have been trying so hard to break the ice with a win on this series, and have come close on a number of occasions, but to finally win one, is unreal. Unless you race on this series regularly, you don't realize just how tough it is to win out here. There are so many good drivers, and so many good cars, it is the toughest racing I have ever done. I have to thank Danny Clanton for letting me drive this car, and George Pils of Southern Style Engines for giving me a motor that would last. Most of all I need to thank my father, who has supported me, worked on the car, acted as crew chief and talked me through the last half of the race and kept me calm. I just can't believe we have finally won one of these. It's a great feeling."

Ivedent Lloyd of Ocala, Fla. led the 25 car field to the green flag and took the lead heading into turn one. As the first lap shuffle ended it was Lloyd with the lead followed by Billy Godowns, Cecil Eunice, Pannell and Henry Carter. As the field came out of turn four on the second lap, Lee Jackson spun, recovered, and kept racing while behind him Brian Weeks, Dewayne Johnson and Randy Ellenberg were forced to take evasive action and spun themselves, with Ellenberg exiting the track at the top of turn four. All three were able to continue with no damage.

The field soon returned to green flag racing and the action quickly heated up all around the track. Jeff Jacobs passed Kasey O'Steen in turn two to gain a spot, while on lap 5 Michael Lloyd moved inside Bobby Padgett on the front straight to begin another of his patented charges from the rear of the field. Mike Carter, a fan favorite also went by Padgett on the next lap as he too began a run from the back of the pack. By lap 7 Godowns had closed up on Ivedent Lloyd and was challenging him for the lead.

Pannell passed Eunice for third in turn 2 and started to close the 2 car length gap to Godowns. Collins, who had started the race in sixth place also was moving forward and on lap 13 he too passed Eunice to move into fourth. By lap 15 the leaders were beginning to encounter lapped traffic and the four front runners were nose-to-tail as they worked their way around the track. Brian Weeks slipped past Jody Rogers on the back stretch, and by lap 20 the running order had Ivedent Lloyd leading Godowns, Pannell Collins and Eunice.

The race continued under green with Lloyd blazing a trail through the rear of the field and the front five ebbed and flowed as they encountered each of the slower cars. Michael Lloyd continued his push forward by passing Jeff Jacobs on the front straight, as all around the track cars were contesting virtually every position. M. Lloyd moved into seventh by slipping by Jackson on lap 25, after starting the race in 17th place.

By lap 35 the lead cars were working their way through some very heavy traffic, and the cars about to be lapped were battling hard for position, making the task of the front runners more difficult. At times it was three wide racing as drivers fought for position in the fast paced event. M. Lloyd moved into the top five on lap 37 as he blew by Eunice under the flagstand and Pannell again closed the small gap to Godowns to put the front three back in tight formation. As lap 40 came and went, the order at the front was I.Lloyd leading Godowns, Pannell, Collins, M.Lloyd, Eunice, David Browning and Everett Phillips.

The second caution of the event flew on lap 48 when Godowns lost an engine as he headed into turn one and oiled the track. The fast pace set by the leaders had placed many cars a lap down by the time this caution came out and the order at the front was I. Lloyd leading Pannell, Collins, Eunice and Phillips. Lee Jackson was sixth, trailed by Mike Mishoe, Mike Carter, Jeff Jacobs, Terry Lumley, Steve Lashley and Dewayne Johnson.

The field soon returned to full speed and Jackson went to the inside of Phillips to move into fifth on lap 49 and one lap later Mishoe was able to pass the Lake City, Fla. driver to take sixth. Lap 54 saw the first lead change of the race as Pannell dipped to the inside coming off turn four and out raced I. Lloyd to turn one and one lap later it was Collins who moved past to take over second. Michael Lloyd also was able to pass the erstwhile leader as his handling was going away.

The third caution of the event came out on lap 67 when Terry Lumley came to a stop on the track with just 11 cars left on the lead lap. Pannel had the lead with Collins in second followed by M.Lloyd, Jackson, Mishoe, Phillips, Carter, Lashley, Johnson and I.Lloyd.

M. Lloyd went inside Collins on lap 83 to take over second and began to put heavy pressure on Pannell. Time and again Lloyd looked to the inside of the three-time winner in every corner. Pannell's car was obviously not as quick as Lloyd's but the experience of Pannell was holding the younger driver at bay. Collins, in the meantime, had backed off a car length or so as the two front runners battled, seemingly content to see what developed. Lloyd attempt's to pass Pannell got more aggressive as the laps continued to wind down, but on every attempt, Pannell had the right move to hold on.

The front running battle was put on a temporary hold when Ivedent Lloyd and Brian Weeks got together in turn three with Lloyd's car going airborne as it left the track at the top of turn three. The red flag came out while safety workers extracted the car from the dirt pile that had prevented it from hitting the nearby trees, and Lloyd was uninjured in the incident.

Once the field returned to green flag racing, the war at the front resumed with renewed vigor as M. Lloyd tried again and again to get inside of Pannell. there was plenty of contact between the two, while Collins continued to sit back and wait. On lap 87 as the three cars exited turn two, Lloyd got a good jump off the corner and once again there was contact. Only Pannell's skill saved him from spinning out, and as both drivers slowed somewhat to regain control, Collins pounced. Going to the high side, Collins blasted past both cars as the three headed down the back straight and took the lead going into turn three.

Over the final ten laps of the race, Collins stayed smooth and Pannell was not able to close the one car length gap as he was still trying to fend off Lloyd. The fifth and final caution of the event came out on lap 96 as Weeks and Padgett spun in turn four, but both were able to roll away. On the restart Collins got a good jump and was able to hold off Pannell over the final laps to take his first ever Series win, and set off a joyous celebration.

There were 37 cars on hand for the event with Ivedent Lloyd setting fast time in qualifying with a fast lap of 17.38 seconds for an average speed of 103.567 mph. Lloyd won his heat race to start the race on the pole. Godowns, Eunice and Pannell won the other heat races. Mike Carter and Michael Lloyd were the winners of the consolation races. Michael Lloyd, Steve Lashley and Jody Rogers shared the hard charger award as each gained 14 positions during the race. The next event for the National Late Model Sportsman Series will be April 9-10 at Oglethorpe Speedway Park in Savannah, Ga.

Waycross Motor Speedway -NLMS - Provisional results for the National Late Model Sportsman Series, Okefenokee Show Down:

Ps.   No.  Driver , Car                                          Laps  Notes
--    ---- ----------------------------------------------------- ----- -------

1 O Johnny Collins, Jacksonville, FL Danny Clanton Chev 100

2 P1 Skip Pannell, Albany, GA Southway Industrial ServChev 100

3 18 Michael Lloyd, Jacksonville FL Lumber Unlimited Chev 100

4 22 Cecil Eunice, Blackshear GA Norman Pont/Ace Pole Chev 100

5 10 Lee Jackson, Brooklet GA Eagle Supp/Jerrys CornerChev 100

6 3 Mike Mishoe, Nahunta GA Little's Paints Chev 100

7 46 Everett Phillips, Lake City FL Everett Custon SerChev 100

8 3 Steve Lashley, Americus GA C&J Pallett/WISK 98.7 Chev 100

9     45  Dewayne Johnson, Columbus GA WJ Plemons InsuranceChev 100          
10     35  Charles Sealy, Moultrie GA Scruggs Conc/BTS ConstChev  99          
11     71  Jody Rogers, Statesboro GA Y-Delta Electric      Chev  99   83     
12     83  Keith Philman, Bell FL Philman Silage Harvesting Chev  99          
13     45  Brian Weeks, Augusta GA Paschall Wood Products   Chev  99          
14     00  Randy Ellenberg, Valdosta, GA Touchton Farms     Chev  95          
15      5  Mike Carter, Blackshear GA Pierce Auto/Carter AutChev  93          
16     21  Ivedent Lloyd, Ocala FL Koury/Snow Brothers      Chev  85          
17      3  Bobby Padgett, Jacksonville FL Wiggins Racing    Chev  79          
18      4  Terry Lumley, Swainsboro GA Rhino Linings        Chev  67          
19     19  Kasey O'Steen, Waycross GA Satilla Motors/KFC    Chev  55          
20     64  Jeff Jacobs, Waycross GA Premier Auto Repair     Ford  47          
21      7  David Browning, Jacksonville FL Durham           Chev  46          
22     20  Billy Godowns, Louisville GA Godowns Farm        Chev  46          
23     28  Henry Carter, Swainsboro GA Mimbs Farm           Chev  29          
24     66  Chuck Chitty, Jacksonville FL C&C Powerline      Chev  18          
25     44  Ricky Brant, Pooler GA M Blue/Lakeside Water     Chev   1          

Track Length : 0.5000 Miles John Kaiser

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Series General
Drivers David Brown , Lee Jackson