Southampton race notes 2004-05-21

CAPRON, Va. (May 21) - Phil Warren of Norfolk, Va., notched his third victory of the season in the Sadler Auto Center/Slip-In Food Mart 150 for the Budweiser Late Model Stock Cars, the featured event of Friday evening's NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series...

CAPRON, Va. (May 21) - Phil Warren of Norfolk, Va., notched his third victory of the season in the Sadler Auto Center/Slip-In Food Mart 150 for the Budweiser Late Model Stock Cars, the featured event of Friday evening's NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series program at Southampton Motor Speedway.

SMS newcomer Peyton Sellers of Danville, Va., set the fast time in qualifying for the event, lapping the 4/10-mile tri-oval at 95.987 mph. After the inversion draw, he was fifth on the starting grid. Timothy Peters of Providence, N.C., lined up on the pole with Mike Shearin of Emporia, Va., alongside. Tommy Cherry of South Mills, N.C., and Warren made up the second row.

As the event got under way, Peters and Shearin went door-to-door until they reached Turn 4. Roaring off the corner, Peters grabbed the clear-cut advantage. Shearin settled into second, followed by Cherry, Warren and Sellers.

On lap 6, Cherry motored under Shearin in Turn 2 in a bid for the runner-up spot. He cleared Shearin's machine in Turn 2 on the following lap and left the inside lane open for Warren and Sellers, who moved up to third and fourth.

Closing rapidly on Peters, Cherry poked a fender to the leader's inside on lap 13. After a two-lap, wheel-to-wheel duel, Peters regained command on the 15th circuit.

Under the rules for the event, each driver was required to make a green-flag pit stop between laps 25 and 125.

The pit cycle began on lap 26 as Cherry, Warren, Shearin, Mike Conner of Gloucester, Va., Travis Miller of Chesapeake, Va., and Junior Hargrave of Pendleton, N.C., headed to the attention of their crews. Sellers completed his stop on lap 30.

On lap 31, Peters slowed at the end of the backstretch and made the turn onto the pit lane. Behind him, though, trouble broke out as Brian Carter of Poquoson, Va., and Bob Shreeves of Chesapeake who were shown in second and third, tangled in Turn 2. With the caution flag flying, Peters hustled on through the pits and rejoined the field.

Though Peters still held the top spot, officials picked up Morty Buckles of Stone Mountain, Ga., as the new leader. Peters circled the track and was deployed near the rear of the pack for the ensuing restart, putting him up by almost a lap on the field.

Back under green, at lap 43, Peters immediately slowed and came in for his green-flag stop. Because he had been placed out of position for the restart, Peters was able to make his stop and return the track without losing a lap.

With Peters making his stop, Buckles moved into the lead. He showed the way for laps 44-50, then slowed for his stop on lap 51, passing the top spot to Shreeves. Shreeves led the 51st circuit, then pitted and surrendered the point to Sellers.

On lap 55, Cherry ducked under Sellers off Turn 4 and completed the pass for the lead in Turn 2 on the following lap. Five laps later, Warren scooted past Sellers for the runner-up position.

Seller's evening came to an end on lap 74 when he smacked the concrete off Turn 2. Bouncing off the wall, he collected Peters, stripping the right-front fender and passenger-side door from Peters' car. Peters quickly drove away from the scene and made a series of three stops under the yellow flag, returning to the track ahead of the pace car each time to keep his place on the lead lap.

During the caution period, the lights in Turns 3 and 4 suddenly went dark. The field was red-flagged to a halt in Turns 1 and 2. After a delay of about 30 minutes, power was restored.

Back under green, and with lightning from an approaching storm flashing in the distance, Warren began to pressure Cherry for the lead, looking high and low for an opening.

After several failed bids, Warren drove to the outside of Cherry on the backstretch on lap 115. He nosed out front for the first time on lap 117 and cleared Cherry in Turn 4 on lap 119.

As Warren and Cherry contested the top spot, Peters crept back into the picture. He grabbed the runner-up spot from Cherry on lap 129 and, within five laps, had tracked down Warren. Working well on the high side, though, Warren was able to hold Peters at bay until lap 149.

Exiting Turn 4, with the white flag ahead, Warren bobbled and Peters shot to the inside of the track. Coming back to the checkers, Warren mustered a run off the final corner and surged ahead at the stripe. His margin of victory was 154-thousandths of a second - about a car-length. Cherry was third to the line, followed by Shreeves and Buckles.

(Note: Following the event, several drivers raised questions about their placement in the rundown. As a result, SMS has deemed the finishing order "unofficial," pending consultation with NASCAR authorities.)

In the evening's other feature events:

Anthony Warren of Norfolk, Va., son of the Late Model winner, notched his second straight victory in a 40-lapper for the Mike Duman Auto Sales Limited Late Models.

Gary Weeks of Newport News, Va., set the fast time, qualifying at 90.577 mph. He pulled the "7" card in the inversion draw, though, and started shotgun on the field. Robbie Babb of Chesapeake moved up to the pole.

When the green flag waved, Babb motored out front, pacing his first laps at SMS. He showed the way until lap 6 when Weeks slipped past. Babb held down second place through lap 9 when he gave way to Ken Rountree of Gates, N.C., and Warren.

The race's first yellow flag appeared on lap 10 when Babb and Jeff Sampson of Hampton, Va., looped their machines in Turn 2. Shawn Balluzzo of Hampton also spun, avoiding Babb and Sampson.

Back under green, Weeks bolted to a three-car-length advantage, while Warren went after Rountree for the runner-up spot. Warren grabbed second on lap 12 and set sail after the leader.

Closing in on Weeks, Warren launched his bid for the lead on lap 22, driving low off Turn 4. He cleared Weeks on the backstretch on lap 23.

In the meantime, third-place Rountree was struggling with an ill-handling car. He lost the third spot to Balluzzo on lap 19 and finally spun in Turn 2 on lap 25 to prompt the final caution flag.

On the final restart, Warren forged a slim edge over Weeks, then began to ease away. By the finish, his margin had grown to four car-lengths. Weeks held off Balluzzo for second. Rountree was fourth and Sampson was fifth.

Wayne Ezell of Louisa, Va., was the winner in a 30-lap feature for the ESPN 950AM Pro-Six Racing Series, which made its SMS debut.

Thomas Barden of Powhatan, Va., started on the pole, at 87.853 mph, and paced the first 19 circuits. Ezell, who started third, shadowed Barden until lap 15 when he slipped in Turn 2, falling four lengths back.

Cruising along at the head of the procession, Barden saw his night come to a sudden end on lap 20 as he looped his car in Turn 2, necessitating the only caution flag. The left-rear corner of his machine dragging the pavement, Barden headed to the sidelines and Ezell assumed the lead.

Lining up for the restart, J.B. Sipe of Chesterfield, Va., occupied the second spot, behind Ezell. When the green flag reappeared, though, Sipe failed to come up to speed immediately and surrendered second place to Tim Layne of Montpelier, Va. While Layne and Sipe sorted themselves out, Ezell darted to a five-car-length lead.

Over the closing circuits, Layne was able to trim a couple car-lengths from Ezell's margin. At the finish, though, it wasn't enough as Ezell won by three lengths. Sipe trailed Ezell and Layne to the stripe, in third. Steve Rudd of Glen Allen, Va., and J.B. Poates of Chesterfield completed the top five.


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Drivers Timothy Peters , Peyton Sellers , Brian Carter , Travis Miller