CAPRON, Va. (Aug. 22) - Mark McFarland of Winchester, Va., edged closer to the 2003 track title with his eighth victory of the season in the U.S. Army/IHOP 100 for the RaceWorld.com Late Model Stock Cars, the headlining event of Friday evening's...
CAPRON, Va. (Aug. 22) - Mark McFarland of Winchester, Va., edged closer to the 2003 track title with his eighth victory of the season in the U.S. Army/IHOP 100 for the RaceWorld.com Late Model Stock Cars, the headlining event of Friday evening's NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series program at Southampton Motor Speedway.
McFarland earned the pole position for the event, touring SMS's 4/10-mile layout at 95.415 mph. Phil Warren of Norfolk, Va., occupied the outside of the front row. Chesapeake, Va., drivers Jimmy Adkins and Terry Allison made up Row 2, while Brian Carter of Poquoson, Va., and John Staton of Chesapeake started on the third row.
As the race got under way, Warren kept his Ford alongside McFarland's Dodge until the field reached Turn 4. Exiting the corner, McFarland motored ahead and Warren settled into second. Meanwhile, Adkins and Allison dueled door-to-door with Adkins moving into third on the second circuit.
Having secured third place, Adkins set sail after Warren. Closing in, he ducked under Warren in Turn 2 on lap 5 and completed the pass at the end of the backstretch.
For a short time, Adkins looked to be gaining on McFarland. The leader quickly asserted himself, though, and began to ease away. By lap 25, McFarland's advantage stood at four car-lengths.
The race's first caution flag waved on lap 28 when Allison, running fourth, spun in Turn 2. Lining up for the restart, McFarland, Adkins, Warren, Staton and Carter made up the top five.
Back under green, McFarland fashioned a two-length edge over Adkins, who was feeling pressure from Warren.
On lap 30, Warren poked a fender under Adkins in Turn 4, drew even through the frontstretch dogleg and regained the runner-up position in Turns 1 and 2 on lap 31. The exchange allowed McFarland to stretch his lead to five car-lengths.
Nearing the midway point, Staton moved up to challenge Adkins for third. He launched a bid for the spot on lap 50, driving under Adkins in Turn 4. The two went side-by-side until lap 53 when Staton powered ahead.
Staton's stay on the leaderboard was short-lived, however, as his engine expired on lap 61, prompting the second and final yellow flag.
Gathering for the restart, McFarland and Warren were first and second, separated from the rest of the pack by a lapped machine. Adkins, Carter and Mike Shearin of Emporia, Va., lined up in third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
As the race resumed, McFarland opened a 1-1/2 length margin over Warren and, methodically, began to extend the lead. Within 10 circuits, he had regained his previous five-length advantage.
Allison made his way back into the top five on lap 66, bypassing Shearin, who was debuting a new car in his first race since a hard crash on June 6.
At the head of the field, McFarland maintained his 4-5 length lead over Warren all the way to the checkered flag. At the finish, his margin of victory was 1.065 seconds.
Adkins tailed McFarland and Warren to the line, scoring his first podium finish of the season. Carter was fourth and Allison was fifth in the final rundown.
In Victory Lane following the event, McFarland commented on his team's efforts: "The car's real good. The guys really worked hard on it to get it easy to drive for me and it really makes my job easy. I thought Phil was gonna be tough there for a while, but, the longer we ran, his car probably faded a little bit."
Warren, meanwhile, voiced a bit of frustration at his runner-up outing: "I feel like we were as good as we've been all year. I tell ya', they've got that thing working good. I don't know what we've got to do to catch him, but we'll keep working on it and see what we can come up with. Our car was good for almost the whole race and he was just better."
For his part, Adkins was ebullient with his third-place run: "That was absolutely the most fun I've had in probably four or five years. To be able to get out there and run with Phil and, a little bit, with McFarland for a lap or two and Terry, I hate that we got together. But, I tell ya', I just drove it for all I was worth. And Mr. Sawyer (his car owner), it's my first year coming with him and, by far, that's the best car I've ever had in my life. We got tight about lap 30 and, once we get that worked out, I think they're gonna have a little bit to reckon with."
McFarland will square off against his Jim Dean Motorsports teammate, Denny Hamlin of Chesterfield, Va., on Friday, Aug. 29, when SMS hosts the Whelen Emergency Services 200, the fourth race in the Dodge Power Super Series.
Hamlin has won the first three races in the series and has guaranteed himself of a $5,000 bonus in the "RaceRap.com Run For The Riches" program. If he wins on the 29th, that bonus will increase to $10,000. If he can sweep all five races (the finale is slated for Sept. 19), he'll claim a $25,000 jackpot.
In the evening's other feature events:
Steve Zuskin of Disputanta, Va., posted his fourth victory of the year in the 50-lap Mike Duman Auto Sales Limited Late Model feature. Starting from the pole, he jumped into the lead on the opening lap and showed the way to the checkers.
Anthony Warren of Norfolk, Va., shared the front row with Zuskin and held down the runner-up spot throughout the event. He was five car-lengths behind the winner at the end.
Gary Weeks of Newport News, Va., was third to the line, coming out on top of a race-long battle with David Wheeler of Prince George, Va., who finished fourth.
Scott Turlington of Richmond, Va., turned in a fifth-place run, besting Joey Cohen of Chesapeake and Ray Ashworth of Mechanicsville, Va., in a three-way joust.
While his potential challengers scuffled among themselves in his mirror, Chesapeake's Robbie Parker cruised to his third win in a 25-lapper for the Rick's Rock Cafe Pure Stocks, leading from wire-to-wire.
As Parker rolled along at the head of the field, Rodney Taylor of Matoaca, Va., and Preston Wheeler of Prince George staged a fierce battle for second. The duo swapped the runner-up spot seven times with Taylor finally grabbing the position for good on lap 18.
At the finish, Parker was the winner by a straightaway over Taylor. Wheeler, the division points leader, was third, followed by Ray Paul of Virginia Beach, Va., and David Seed of Chesapeake.
Craig Goess Jr. of Greenville, N.C., notched his third win in as many Capron starts in the 25-lap INEX Little Race Cars Legends feature. The race was an INEX "regional qualifier," meaning Goess also earned an invitation to the 2003 Legends Asphalt Nationals.
Goess qualified on the pole, missing the division record by only 89-thousandths of a second.
The race was interrupted at the end of the opening lap when Kevin Yeatts of Powhatan, Va., spun off Turn 4. Before the smoke cleared, over a third of the 17-car field had caught a piece of the action. The incident sidelined the cars of Yeatts, Don McLaughlin of Chesapeake, Brad Arthur of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., and Jamie Phipps of Suffolk, Va.
When the race finally got going, Goess pulled into the lead. Kerry Gilbert of Chesapeake, who started third, moved up to second, then went after the top spot.
On lap 3, Gilbert ducked under Goess, the `02 Legends Pro Division national champ, at the start/finish line and cleared Goess in Turn 4 to take the lead. Ryan Crites of Newport News tagged along with Gilbert, dropping Goess to third place.
Goess rallied, however, picking off Crites on lap 5. Within a handful of circuits, he was on Gilbert's rear bumper.
On lap 10, Goess drove under Gilbert in Turn 3 and regained the lead in Turn 2 on lap 11. Over the second half of the event, he pulled away and won by nearly half a straightaway.
Gilbert was second, holding off a late charge by Cliff Daniels of Smithfield, Va. Jason Miller of Berryville, Va., was fourth to the stripe, while Crites, the division points leader, was fifth.
Trip Anderson of Hampton, Va., was the winner as the U-Cars - strictly-stock, 4-cylinder cars - made their SMS debut in a 25-lap feature.
George VanGuilder of Yorktown, Va., started on the pole and held Anderson at bay for the first 15 circuits. Exiting Turn 4 on lap 15, Anderson finally worked his way under VanGuilder and pulled ahead in Turn 2 on lap 16.
By the finish, Anderson's winning margin had grown to half a straightaway as VanGuilder got bottled up by slower cars in the closing circuits.
Bill Wallace of Newport News was third to the line, followed by Bill Dailey and Randy Prillaman of Suffolk.