Southampton race report 2003-04-04

CAPRON, Va. (April 4) - Brandon Butler of Petersburg, Va., moved to the head of the field on lap 7 and rolled to his second straight victory in the Mike Duman Auto Sales 100 for the Late Model Stock Cars, the headlining event of...

CAPRON, Va. (April 4) - Brandon Butler of Petersburg, Va., moved to the head of the field on lap 7 and rolled to his second straight victory in the Mike Duman Auto Sales 100 for the Late Model Stock Cars, the headlining event of Friday evening's NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series program at Southampton Motor Speedway.

Terry Allison of Chesapeake, Va., earned the pole position for the event, qualifying at 94.013 mph. Bud Kenny of Virginia Beach, Va., was second-quickest, while Butler and Phil Warren of Norfolk, Va., lined up third and fourth.

As the race got under way, Allison jumped into the lead, leaving Kenny locked in a side-by-side battle with Butler. Behind them, Warren was door-to-door with Mark McFarland of Winchester, Va., who had qualified fifth.

In the opening laps, McFarland slipped by Warren for fourth. Meanwhile, Butler and Kenny tussled until the end of the third circuit when Butler pulled into the runner-up spot.

Butler quickly closed in on Allison and ducked under the leader in Turn 4 on lap 6. Butler nosed ahead to take the top spot on lap 7 and finally cleared Allison on lap 9. While that was going on, McFarland scooted around Kenny to move into third.

Once he got around Allison, Butler began to drive away. By lap 16, Butler was up by more than three car-lengths as McFarland zeroed in on Allison for second place.

The first caution flag appeared on lap 21. Lining up for the restart, Butler, Allison and McFarland made up the top five. Warren was fourth, having bypassed Kenny on lap 20.

Back under green, Butler opened a two-length edge as Allison and McFarland contested the second spot. McFarland took the position on lap 23, muscling under and past Allison in Turns 1 and 2. The exchange allowed Butler to stretch his advantage to nearly half a straightaway.

As McFarland cleared Allison, Warren spotted an opening and pulled alongside Allison for third place on lap 24. The two went door-to-door until lap 31 when Warren grabbed the upper hand.

At the halfway mark, Butler maintained his half-straightaway margin. He was, however, about to wade into heavy traffic for the first time, giving McFarland an opportunity to make up ground.

Before that scenario could play out, though, the second yellow flag waved. Butler, McFarland, Warren, Allison and Kenny occupied the top five spots as the field gathered for the restart.

When the race resumed, Butler quickly fashioned a one-car-length lead over McFarland and, once more, began to ease away. He enjoyed a three-length advantage when the third caution flag flew on lap 63.

On the restart, with clear track in front of him, Butler slipped away again. By lap 74, he had extended his lead to almost five car-lengths. Back in the field, Tommy Cherry of South Mills, N.C., cracked the top five for the first time, dispatching Kenny on lap 70.

The last of the race's four caution flags was unfurled on lap 80.

As he had done on the three previous restarts, Butler gained a one-length advantage when the green flag reappeared, then methodically drove away. By the finish, his winning margin had grown to 0.810-second - about four car-lengths.

McFarland, the division points leader, was the runner-up, his third second-place showing in as many events. Warren was third, followed by Allison and Cherry.

In Victory Lane after the race, Butler talked about his car and the competition: "This Bailey's Chevrolet was pretty awesome. Mark and Phil, they're as good as it comes and we just had it hooked up tonight. I know those guys are gonna win some races, so we're happy to win `em when we can."

For the second week in a row, McFarland offered a tip of the cap to Butler: "We come here to win every week and, y'know, Brandon's tough. His car's hooked up. We've just got to get it turning a little bit better and we'll be right there with him."

Continuing, McFarland commented on getting a handle on his Dodge: "We're working on it. It's getting better and better. We're working with a lot of good people on it and, soon, we'll be up there where he's (Butler) at."

Also looking forward to some additional tweaking on his car was third-place Warren: "We're just working on it every week. We're doing something a little different. Last week, we had a little bad luck. I don't know if we were quite good enough last week neither, but we were closer tonight and, maybe in a few weeks, we'll get the Mayberry America/Hardee's Ford in Victory Lane. We'll just keep working on it `til it happens."

In the evening's other feature races:

Gary Weeks of Newport News, Va., led the last two laps for his first win of the year in a 50-lapper for the Mike Duman Auto Sales Limited Late Models.

David Wheeler of Prince George, Va., started on the pole at 89.352 mph, but gave way to Steve Zuskin of Disputanta, Va., at the beginning of the event.

Weeks, who qualified fifth, slipped to sixth in the opening shuffle, then began making his way toward the front. He moved up to third on a restart at lap 10.

At the head of the field, Zuskin was unable to shake Wheeler. After taking several peeks under the leader, Wheeler, the two-time Pure Stock champ, drove to the inside of Zuskin on lap 42.

While Wheeler edged ahead to lead for the first time on lap 44, he and Zuskin remained side-by-side until lap 49 when Wheeler cleared Zuskin's machine.

On what would have been the final lap, Zuskin squeezed alongside Wheeler in Turns 1 and 2. Instead of a photo finish, however, the two tangled at the end of the backstretch, collecting fourth-place Ray Ashworth of Mechanicsville, Va., in the process.

The incident prompted the fourth and final caution flag, handed the lead to Weeks and set up a "green-white-checkered" dash to the finish.

On the final restart, Weeks leaped out to a three-car-length lead and held that margin to the end. Anthony Warren of Norfolk was second, followed by Zuskin, who was able to continue after his mishap.

Rookie driver Scott Turlington of Richmond, Va., turned in a solid, fourth-place showing and Dalford Briley of Camden, N.C., was fifth.

While victory eluded his dad in the Limited Late Model race, Preston Wheeler of Prince George had no such worries in the 25-lap Rick's Rock Cafe Pure Stock feature. He started on the pole and overwhelmed the field, leading the caution-free event from flag-to-flag and winning by a full straightaway.

Rodney Taylor of Matoaca, Va., was second, while Robbie Parker of Chesapeake, Va., Rob Hughes of Hampton, Va., and Ray Paul of Virginia Beach were third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

In a wild finish, Mason Temple of Emporia, Va., picked up the win in a 20-lapper for the Ukrop's Mid-Atlantic Champ Karts.

In a virtual replay of the series' March 22 race at SMS, son-and-father duo Stan and Stanley Holmes of Chesterfield, Va., jumped out front on the opening lap and threatened to run away from the field.

On lap 16, however, Stan Holmes suddenly dropped off the pace. His dad, Stanley, took the lead, but, running alone, he was a sitting duck as the second pack, locked in a draft, closed in.

Richmond's Jim Grady Jr. moved to the point on lap 17. Temple pulled out of line, though, and gave a drafting boost to Stanley Holmes, pushing him back to the lead on lap 19.

Exiting Turn 4 on the final lap, with the checkers in sight, Grady and Holmes were side-by-side. Holmes' kart, however, veered to the left and into Grady. As Holmes spun, Grady's kart overturned. With the field scattering, Temple dodged the unfolding melee to take the win.

Steven Helms and Kenny Rigsby, both of Mechanicsville, were second and third in the rundown, followed by David Spence of Cosby, Tenn., and George Dehner of Glen Allen, Va.

Jim Eubanks of Garner, N.C., was the winner of a 20-lap event for the Baby Grands. He started on the pole, at 89.686 mph, and led all the way. Nick Proffitt was the runner-up, followed by Lin O'Neill of Chester, Va. Johnny Simons of Richmond and Steve Mendenhall of Clayton, N.C., were fourth and fifth.

Mechanical problems and accidents exacted a heavy toll on the 7-car field. Only three of the seven starters were running at the finish and the race was interrupted by five caution flags.


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About this article
Series Kart , NASCAR , Stock car
Drivers Mark McFarland , David Wheeler