Southampton race notes 2004-04-23

CAPRON, Va. (April 23) - Phil Warren of Norfolk, Va., took the lead at the midway point and rolled to his second straight victory in the 75-lap Budweiser Late Model Stock Car portion of Friday evening's NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series program at ...

CAPRON, Va. (April 23) - Phil Warren of Norfolk, Va., took the lead at the midway point and rolled to his second straight victory in the 75-lap Budweiser Late Model Stock Car portion of Friday evening's NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series program at Southampton Motor Speedway.

Mike Shearin of Emporia, Va., set the fast time in qualifying, touring SMS's 4/10-mile layout at 96.716 mph. Morty Buckles of Stone Mountain, Ga., clocked in with the second-fastest lap, 95.917 mph.

In the inversion draw, however, Shearin pulled the "7" card and was bumped back to the inside of Row 4. Brad Higginbotham of Chesapeake, Va., making his Late Model debut, moved up to the pole, sharing the front row with Timothy Peters of Providence, N.C. Joey Cohen of Chesapeake and Brian Carter of Poquoson, Va., made up Row 2, while Warren and Buckles occupied an all-Ford Row 3.

As the race got under way, Higginbotham and Peters remained door-to-door until Turn 4 when Peters gained the upper hand.

The yellow flag made an early appearance as Shearin and Buckles spun in Turn 2 on the second circuit. Mark Roberts of Chesapeake also sustained damage in the incident. All three drivers were able to continue. Peters, Higginbotham, Cohen and Warren headed the field for the ensuing restart.

Back under green, Peters opened a two-length advantage. Further back, Warren hounded Cohen for the third spot, grabbing the position on lap 10. The second caution flag flew on lap 12 as Roberts' car was dropping fluid on the racing surface.

As the race resumed, Warren continued his march toward the point. He drove under Higginbotham out of Turn 4 on lap 13, pulled even in the frontstretch dogleg and completed the pass for second in Turns 1 and 2 on the following circuit. The shuffle allowed Peters to stretch his lead to four lengths.

The third yellow flag waved on lap 19 when Cohen and Carter made contact off Turn 4. Carter, who suffered a cut right-rear tire in the exchange, fought to control his car, finally spinning in Turn 1. He did, however, manage to keep the car off the wall and no other drivers were collected in the mishap.

Lining up for the restart, Peters, Warren and Higginbotham made up the top three, followed by Mike Conner of Gloucester, Va., and Shearin.

With the green flag flying, Warren locked onto Peters' rear bumper and began hunting for an opening. In the meantime, Conner was working on Higginbotham for third. He snagged the position on lap 33, bringing Shearin along with him.

At the front, Warren launched his bid for the lead on lap 35, ducking under Peters in Turn 4. He nosed ahead for the first time on lap 36. Racing wheel-to-wheel, Warren and Peters swapped the lead three times in rapid succession.

Their duel was interrupted, though, as Cohen and Carter spun in Turn 2, prompting the fourth and final caution period. Warren, credited with leading the last green-flag lap before the caution, was directed to the head of the pack for the restart.

Back under way, Warren fashioned a slim edge over Peters, then began to ease away. Behind them, Shearin poked a fender alongside Conner on lap 42. After a two-lap tussle, Shearin took over third place, clearing Conner out of Turn 4 on lap 44.

While Warren cruised along in the lead, Shearin was closing in on second-place Peters. By lap 57, he had erased the gap completely.

On lap 59, Shearin drove to the inside of Peters in Turn 4 and drew even. Their door-to-door scuffle lasted until lap 65 when Shearin motored ahead at the end of the backstretch. Enjoying the scene in his mirror, Warren stretched his lead to nearly half a straightaway.

Over the closing circuits, Shearin was able to chop a few lengths from Warren's advantage. It wasn't enough, though, as Warren won by 0.714-second - about four car-lengths. Peters tailed the lead duo to the stripe, in second. Travis Miller and Bob Shreeves, both of Chesapeake, rounded out the top five.

Denny Hamlin of Chesterfield, Va., tied with Warren for the division lead heading into the race, sustained engine problems during the afternoon practice and was unable to compete in Friday's event.

In Victory Lane after the race, Warren was asked how he might have stacked up against Hamlin, judging from the early practice session.

"You base a lot on practice," Warren replied, "but race conditions are different - who's had the best car all night long. And, I'll tell ya', Mike Shearin definitely had the best car, it looked to me like, tonight. He was coming at the end. I'm glad it wasn't a hundred laps."

For his part, Shearin agreed with Warren assessment: "Car was good. I just run out of laps. I had got put in the back and I had to work my way back up and, when you have to do that, you burn your tires up. I still have plenty of tires left, but, when you come up through the pack like that, you just burn your tires up, just heats `em up too much."

Peters was philosophical about his third-place run: "It tightened up a little bit, but that's all right. We'll work on it a little bit and we'll be back. Hopefully, we'll get a little bit better, but the Bailey's crew did a good job tonight. We came home third, the car's in one piece. Just go home and work on it and try to come back next week."

In the evening's other feature events:

Gary Weeks of Newport News, Va., notched the win in a 40-lapper for the Mike Duman Auto Sales Limited Late Models, becoming the third different winner in as many events for the class.

With an early-evening shower jumbling the program, the Limited Late Model lineup was determined by the standings. Points leader Ken Rountree of Gates, N.C., then pulled the "3" card, resulting in an inversion of the top three.

Todd VanGuilder of Hampton, Va., lined up on the pole with Shawn Balluzzo, also of Hampton, alongside. Rountree and Weeks occupied Row 2.

As the race began, VanGuilder grabbed the lead into Turn 1. Rountree moved up to second place with Weeks tagged along.

Coming around to complete lap 2, VanGuilder and Rountree locked horns off Turn 4 and crashed hard. Weeks slipped past the unfolding melee and assumed the lead as the yellow flag waved. The incident sidelined VanGuilder, while Rountree was able to continue, minus much of his front-end bodywork.

Back under green, Weeks bolted from the pack. Balluzzo, meanwhile, was throwing up showers of sparks in the corners. On lap 6, Balluzzo ground to a halt at the start/finish line, bringing out the last of the race's two caution flags and ending his night prematurely.

During the caution period, Anthony Warren of Norfolk made a quick trip to the pit lane, giving up the second spot to Hampton's Jeff Sampson.

Back under way, Weeks leaped out to a half-straightaway lead. Rountree wheeled his battered car past Sampson on lap 7 to take over second place. He couldn't offer a challenge to Weeks, though, as the leader sailed on to the checkers.

At the finish, Weeks was the winner by a full straightaway over Rountree. Warren was third to the line, followed by Sampson and Hampton's Gene Brinson Jr.

Ritchie German of Hampton posted his first Capron victory in a 30-lap contest for the Racecom of Virginia Super Streets, taking the lead on lap 4.

The starting lineup was determined by a draw, putting John Boord of Newport News on the pole. He paced the first three circuits before giving way to German.

Until the closing circuits, Boord remained within striking distance of the leader, never falling more than a couple car-lengths back.

On lap 28, though, German ran up on Dale Parro of Virginia Beach, Va., and Kenny Wood of Newport News, who were battling for fifth place. The leader drove low on the frontstretch, briefly stacking the cars three-deep.

The gutsy move allowed German to open some breathing room between himself and Boord and he sped on to the win. Boord was second to the line, followed by Scott Finch and Steve Dill, both of Newport News. Parro was fifth in the official rundown.

Max Smith of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., was awarded his first win of the season in the 40-lap INEX Little Race Cars Legends feature. He was elevated to the top spot when the apparent winner, Jason Miller of Berryville, Va., failed to clear the post-race tech inspection.

Ryan Crites of Newport News was quickest in qualifying, at 85.430 mph, but pulled the "7" card in the inversion draw. Pete Fowler of Newsoms, Va., moved into the pole slot.

Don McLaughlin of Chesapeake led lap 1 before giving way to Miller, who started fourth. Miller went on to pace laps 2-34.

On lap 35, Cliff Daniels of Smithfield, Va., pushed his machine out front, catching Miller in traffic. Miller regained the top spot on lap 38 and was a car-length ahead at the end, while Smith edged Daniels by inches. As it turned out, Smith's last-lap pass was for the win.

Daniels was second in the amended rundown, followed by Kerry Gilbert of Suffolk, Va. Fowler was fourth and C.E. Falk of Virginia Beach completed the top five.

-sms-

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About this article
Series NASCAR , Stock car
Drivers Jason Miller , Denny Hamlin , Timothy Peters , Brian Carter , Travis Miller