Southampton race notes 2003-05-16

CAPRON, Va. (May 16) - Brandon Butler of Petersburg, Va., earned his third straight win in the U.S. Army 100 for the Late Model Stock Cars, the featured event of Friday evening's NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series program at Southampton...

CAPRON, Va. (May 16) - Brandon Butler of Petersburg, Va., earned his third straight win in the U.S. Army 100 for the Late Model Stock Cars, the featured event of Friday evening's NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series program at Southampton Motor Speedway.

Butler started the race from the pole position, qualifying at 95.352 mph. Mark McFarland of Winchester, Va., shared the front row with Butler after touring SMS's 4/10-mile layout at 95.075 mph. Tommy Cherry of South Mills, N.C., and Jimmy Adkins of Chesapeake, Va., made up Row 2, while Bubba Johnston of Chesapeake and Phil Warren of Norfolk, Va., occupied Row 3. Little more than half a second separated first from last in the 19-car field.

As the race got under way, Butler edged ahead, clearing McFarland at the end of the backstretch on the opening circuit. McFarland settled into second, followed by Cherry, Adkins and Warren.

By lap 20, Butler had pulled away from McFarland by four car-lengths. The lead duo enjoyed a half-straightaway advantage over Cherry, Adkins and Warren, who were locked in a tight battle for third.

The first caution flag appeared on lap 22 when Limited Late Model driver Michael Perkins of Petersburg, making his Late Model Stock Car debut, smacked the inside wall just past the flagstand.

Back under green, Butler and McFarland bolted from the pack, while Warren snagged fourth place from Adkins, bringing Terry Allison of Chesapeake along with him.

On lap 26, Warren ducked under Cherry for the third spot. The two went door-to-door until lap 31 when Cherry regained control of the position. Three laps later, the second yellow flag waved.

On the restart, Butler fashioned a one-length margin over McFarland, while Cherry, Warren, Allison and Adkins battled behind them.

At the halfway mark, Butler held a four-car-length advantage. Meanwhile, Cherry and Warren had resumed their duel for third. Warren finally cleared Cherry on lap 59. During their tussle, however, Butler and McFarland had driven off by a full straightaway.

Up by five car-lengths, Butler waded into heavy traffic on lap 70. Before McFarland could move in, though, the third caution flag flew on the 75th circuit. The fourth yellow flag appeared on the ensuing restart.

Lining up, Butler and McFarland maintained the top two spots and were separated from third-place Warren by a pair of lapped cars.

As the race resumed, Butler and McFarland broke away as Warren worked on the slower cars, clearing them at the end of the back straightaway.

On lap 78, Allison drove under Cherry in Turn 2 and nosed ahead to take fourth place on lap 79. The fifth caution flag was unfurled on the next circuit for a two-car tangle in Turn 4.

Back under green, the front four - Butler, McFarland, Warren and Allison - began to string out. Behind them, John Staton of Chesapeake, Adkins and Mike Buffkin of Yorktown, Va., stacked up in Cherry's mirror.

The last of the race's six caution flags flew on lap 89 when Adkins and Buffkin locked horns in Turn 4 and Adkins spun.

On the final restart, Butler forged a two-length edge, while Warren moved up to challenge McFarland for the runner-up spot. Warren hounded McFarland until lap 94 when he slipped in Turns 1 and 2, allowing McFarland some breathing room.

At the front, Butler continued to click off the laps and beat McFarland to the checkers by 0.552-second - about three car-lengths. McFarland finished second for the fourth time in as many starts and maintained his spot atop the division standings. Warren, Allison and Cherry completed the top five.

In the evening's other feature races:

David Wheeler of Prince George, Va., the former Pure Stock ace, notched his first win in a 50-lapper for the Mike Duman Auto Sales Limited Late Models. He moved out front on lap 23.

Wheeler started on the pole, at 90.084 mph, but gave way to Steve Zuskin of Disputanta, Va., on the opening lap. Dropping in line in second, Wheeler tailed Zuskin for the first 22 laps.

On lap 23, Wheeler slipped to the inside of Zuskin in Turn 2 and edged ahead at the start/finish line to lead for the first time. Two laps later, Michael Perkins bypassed Zuskin to take the second spot.

Obviously off the pace, Zuskin finally slowed to a halt on the backstretch on lap 30, prompting the fourth and final caution flag. After a visit to the pits to replace a cut tire, Zuskin rejoined the field for the restart.

Back under green, Wheeler opened a slim margin over Perkins, then methodically began to pull away. By the finish, Wheeler's margin of victory had grown to better than half a straightaway. Perkins was the runner-up, followed by Ken Rountree of Gates, N.C., who was making his first start of the year.

Zuskin salvaged a fourth-place finish, passing Ray Ashworth of Mechanicsville, Va., on lap 49, then holding off Ashworth at the checkers.

David Allison of Chesapeake posted his first SMS victory in the 25-lap Rick's Rock Cafe Pure Stock feature, taking the lead on lap 3.

Rodney Taylor of Matoaca, Va., started on the pole and paced the first two laps before giving way to Allison. Taylor held the second spot until lap 15 when Preston Wheeler of Prince George scooted past.

The only caution flag waved on lap 17.

On the restart, Allison quickly grabbed a two-length advantage, extending the margin as the field rolled off Turn 2.

At the finish, Allison was the winner by four car-lengths over Wheeler. Taylor was third, followed by Robbie Parker of Chesapeake and Gary Swindell of Suffolk, Va.

Kerry Gilbert of Chesapeake scored his first win in the 25-lap INEX Little Race Cars Legends race. He moved out front for good on lap 22.

David Powell of Yorktown, Va., the pole starter, led laps 1-6 before Gilbert grabbed the lead for the first time, bringing Chesapeake's Don McLaughlin with him. Jason Miller of Berryville, Va., also tagged along, taking over third place.

McLaughlin tailed Gilbert until lap 19 when he drew alongside in Turn 2, easing ahead to lead laps 20 and 21. McLaughlin cleared Gilbert on lap 21, but Gilbert immediately reversed positions with the new leader, driving to the inside and regaining the top spot on lap 22.

Following the third and final yellow flag, at lap 24, Gilbert opened a one-car-length margin over McLaughlin and held that edge to the finish. Miller was third to the line, while Ryan Crites of Newport News, Va., came from 17th on the starting grid to take fourth. Powell came home in fifth.

Ben Philbrick of Chesapeake was the winner in the 25-lap Mid-Atlantic Toys For Tots Pro Cup Challenge for the Scale Racing League Arena-Cup class. The event marked the outdoor debut for the division.

Philbrick started on the pole and led the first four laps before giving way to Charles Russell on lap 5. On a restart at lap 8, though, Philbrick darted back around Russell to take the lead for good. Danny Christmas came along with Philbrick, dropping Russell to third.

At the halfway point, Philbrick enjoyed a five-length advantage over Christmas and Russell, who were lined up nose-to-tail formation and beginning to close on the leader. By lap 23, Christmas and Russell had trimmed Philbrick's lead to two car-lengths.

On the final lap, as Philbrick sped toward the checkers, Christmas and Russell tangled in Turn 4. Christmas spun, while Russell continued to the flagstand. For his part in the incident, Russell was penalized to last place in the 11-car field by series officials.

Moving up to second in the official finishing order was Ross Clements of Moyock, N.C. Rob Wells of Virginia Beach, Va., was third, followed by Matt Midgett of Kitty Hawk, N.C., and John Davis of Virginia Beach.


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About this article
Series NASCAR , Stock car
Drivers John Davis , Jason Miller , Rob Wells , Mark McFarland , David Wheeler