NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series at Southampton Motor Speedway Race Report - Fun 'N' Play Night Friday, July 18, 2003 CAPRON, Va. (July 18) - Brandon Butler of Petersburg, Va., took the lead on lap 7 and showed the way to his fourth victory of the ...
NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series at Southampton Motor Speedway
Race Report - Fun 'N' Play Night
Friday, July 18, 2003
CAPRON, Va. (July 18) - Brandon Butler of Petersburg, Va., took the lead on lap 7 and showed the way to his fourth victory of the season in the Fun `N' Play 100 for the RaceWorld.com Late Model Stock Cars, the featured event of Friday evening's NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series program at Southampton Motor Speedway.
Butler earned the pole for the race, touring the 4/10-mile tri-oval at 95.024 mph to edge Mark McFarland of Winchester, Va., by only two-thousandths of a second. Frank Deiny Jr. of Mechanicsville, Va., and Terry Allison of Chesapeake, Va., made up Row 2, while John Staton of Chesapeake and Phil Warren of Norfolk, Va., occupied Row 3.
As the race got under way, McFarland hung tough on the high side and nosed ahead of Butler to lead the first six laps. Butler pushed his machine out front for the first time on lap 7.
Back in the pack, a brief jam-up in Turn 4 in the opening circuits chased Chesapeake drivers Elton Sawyer and Bubba Johnston to the pits with body damage. Johnston's team made repairs and sent him back into the fray. Sawyer, meanwhile, opted to park his car for the night.
At the front, the door-to-door battle between Butler and McFarland continued until lap 10 when Butler gained the clear-cut advantage in Turn 1. Deiny tried to follow Butler past McFarland, but ended settling into the third spot. Within a handful of laps, Butler had opened a three-length lead.
On lap 13, Warren went after Allison for the fourth position, driving low in Turn 1. The two raced side-by-side until the 17th circuit when Warren grabbed the spot. The duel for fourth allowed the front three to pull away by nearly half a straightaway.
Butler continued to add to his lead. By the midway mark, his advantage had grown to about half a straightaway over McFarland, who had put a couple car-lengths on third-place Deiny.
As the laps clicked off, Deiny narrowed the gap between himself and McFarland. On lap 72, he began a bid for the runner-up position, driving to the inside in Turn 4. Deiny and McFarland went door-to-door until lap 79 when Deiny forged ahead off Turn 4.
While his potential challengers tussled behind him, Butler drove away. At the end of the caution-free event, his margin of victory had swelled to a whopping 5.131 seconds - better than a full straightaway - over Deiny. McFarland, Warren and Staton completed the top five.
In Victory Lane after the race, Butler praised his crew for their efforts: "What can you say about this whole Bailey's race team? All these guys that work so hard. My whole crew's been behind me. I've been kinda down-and-out the last couple months since my injury (a basketball-related foot injury) and been slowly getting better. We've been here all day testing today. A&E Race Cars, gotta thank them. They were here with me today. Worked mighty hard and it was mighty hot, but it paid off.
Of his competition, Butler continued, "It feels good to get that blue 29 Bailey's car back in Victory Lane. We beat two of the best in the whole nation tonight, Frank Deiny and Mark McFarland. Mark McFarland's leading the nation. I wish him good luck in that hunt, but it sure felt good beating him tonight."
Concluding his remarks, Butler revealed his simple strategy for the race: "I knew we had a great car. But, honestly, we haven't won in a couple months. We've kinda struggled since I got hurt. We wanted this thing in Victory Lane mighty bad. I wanted to get as big a lead as I could so, in case the driver messed up, we could hold onto it."
Runner-up Deiny, who will return to the West Coast next weekend to continue his NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series campaign, offered tips of the cap to Butler and McFarland, interspersed with a few playful comments: "Worked my butt off tonight to run second. Congratulations to Brandon Butler and Bailey's. They're running pretty good out here. Between them and Mark McFarland, they got this place down pretty good. Man, that chicken tasted good tonight. (A reference to McFarland's sponsor, Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits.) Man, we were talking so much junk this week, they had a chicken salad sandwich ready for me. Y'know, I've been saying all week I came to get some chicken. I just didn't count on having to get some cigarettes, too. (A reference to Butler's sponsor, Bailey's.)"
Third-place McFarland also noted Butler's stout performance: "Brandon was pretty strong tonight. We just got loose there at the end and Frank was able to get by us, but the Popeye's Dodge was pretty strong. We'll do a little work on it this week and bring it back. I knew I had to get in front of Brandon, `cause he's real hard to pass here. If we could get in front of him, we might be able to hold him off, but he was too strong tonight."
With the win, Butler leaped from sixth to third in the division standings. He and Staton have both accumulated 434 points, but Butler gets the nod for third with four wins to none for Staton. McFarland is the points leader, 42 ahead of Warren.
In the evening's other feature races:
Gary Weeks of Newport News, Va., moved out front on lap 17 and drove on to his division-leading third win in a 50-lapper for the Mike Duman Auto Sales Limited Late Models.
Michael Perkins of Petersburg started on the pole, at 91.007 mph, and set the pace for the first 13 circuits. On lap 14, though, he and second-place David Wheeler of Prince George, Va., tangled in Turn 4, prompting the first caution flag. Fourth-place Anthony Warren of Norfolk was also collected in the incident.
Lining up for the restart, Ken Rountree of Gates, N.C., was the new leader, followed by Weeks and Steve Zuskin of Disputanta, Va.
Back under green, Weeks took a peek to the low side of Rountree in Turn 1. He fell back in line, but continued to stalk Rountree until lap 17 when he nosed out front. He cleared Rountree's car on the next circuit.
The second and final yellow flag flew on lap 20 as Rountree's car was beginning to lay down fluid. He was directed to the pits for repairs and rejoined the field for the restart. The problem didn't diminish, however, and Rountree was eventually forced to the sidelines.
With Perkins and Rountree both out of contention, Weeks sailed to the checkers, easily out-distancing Zuskin. At the finish, he was the winner by nearly half a straightaway. Zuskin was second, followed by Ray Ashworth of Mechanicsville, Wheeler and Warren.
David Allison of Chesapeake picked up his second victory in the 25-lap Rick's Rock Cafe Pure Stock feature, taking the lead for good on the 21st lap.
Allison was the pole starter and led the first five laps before giving way to Preston Wheeler of Prince George, who was gunning for his fifth straight win.
Once out front, Wheeler took command of the event, extending his lead to as much as five car-lengths. Nearing the finish, though, he ran up on slower traffic and Allison quickly closed in, slipping by for the lead on lap 21.
On the final circuit, Wheeler tried to rally. With Allison guarding the low groove, Wheeler drove to the high side in Turn 1. The two were door-to-door coming to the stripe and Allison held on to win by half a car-length.
Robbie Parker of Chesapeake, Rodney Taylor of Matoaca, Va., and Ray Paul of Virginia Beach, Va., completed the top five.
Stan Holmes of Chesterfield, Va., was the winner of a 20-lapper for the Ukrop's Mid-Atlantic Champ Karts. He moved out front at the end of the opening circuit and led all the way to the checkers.
Holmes' father, Stanley, also of Chesterfield, moved into the runner-up spot on lap 10. Arguably the MACKA series' most potent drafting tandem, the Holmeses were never headed, darting away from the pack in the closing laps. At the finish, the younger Holmes won by a single kart-length.
Mechanicsville drivers Ron Trimmer, Steven Helms and Mark Claytor were third, fourth and fifth, in that order.
Chris Florian of Chesapeake led from pole to checkers for his first SMS win in the 25-lap Mid-Atlantic Toys For Tots Pro Cup Challenge for the Scale Racing League Arena-Cup cars.
Charles Russell of Chesapeake was the runner-up, nearly half a straightaway behind the winner. Matt Midgett of Kitty Hawk, N.C., was third, holding off Ray Kantowski of Virginia Beach, Va., at the line. John Davis of Virginia Beach was fifth.
The Scale Racing League will be holding a National Championship Series event at SMS on Saturday, July 26. Gates open at 8 a.m. Practice rounds begin at 9:30 and run throughout the morning. Time trials get under way at 12 noon. The day will conclude with feature events for the Junior and Pro-Mod Trucks (25 laps), Adult Mini Cup cars (50 laps) and Arena Mini Cup cars (50 laps).