SERIES: DIRT, HAT MERIDIAN, MS - RIS - Donnie Moran served notice to his fellow competitors on the 1997 HAV-A-TAMPA Dirt Racing Series that he is a major player in the battle for the National Championship of dirt track racing. Moran smoked the...
SERIES: DIRT, HAT
MERIDIAN, MS - RIS - Donnie Moran served notice to his fellow competitors on the 1997 HAV-A-TAMPA Dirt Racing Series that he is a major player in the battle for the National Championship of dirt track racing. Moran smoked the field in the Confederate 100 at Whynot Speedway in Merdian, MS as he took the checkers for the first time since March of 1995 on the cigar-backed tour. He was rewarded for his effort with over $15,000 and he moved into fourth place in the national points chase.
Moran produced a "clean sweep" weekend as he captured fast time in qualifying on Friday night with an average lap speed of 81.11 mph on the fast quarter-mile track. Moran then proceeded to win his heat race and earn the pole position for the CONFEDERATE 100 and then led every lap in the race itself. Moran was the first driver to accomplish this feat in 1997 on the HAV-A-TAMPA circuit.
"It's always good to get your first win of the season on a series," a smiling Moran said in victory lane. "We've had good cars, but luck comes and goes. Looks like our run of bad luck has turned to good. Winning here is good for our morale, good for our egos and good for the pocketbook."
Despite the fact that Moran led all 100 laps, it was not an easy victory for the three-time WORLD 100 winner. The GM Performance Parts Camaro was constantly under pressure and at the end of the race had to fight of a determined challenge from current points leader Billy Moyer to take the win.
"We really gambled out there with the tires and it paid off," Moyer commented. "This is a big boost that gives us more incentive just knowing that we have a legitimate shot at this championship."
With his second place finish, Billy Moyer was able to stretch his points lead over defending National Champion Freddy Smith to 81, but the next 13 spots in the points battle are now even tighter than before. Moyer tried gamely to pass Moran in the closing stages of the race, but was unable to pull off the feat.
"It was a solid run for us," Moyer said afterwards. "Donnie had a strong car and a guy like that only gives you maybe one shot at getting by him. It just wasn't our turn to win tonight, but we're happy with the consistency."
Following Moran and Moyer to the finish line was a hard charging Steve Russell. Russell made his late race run to the front amid a six-way battle for position between himself, Moyer, Clint Smith, Skip Arp, Wendell Wallace, and Mississippi youngster James Dean. Moyer made a move to the outside of Smith, who was running in second at the time, and Russell darted to the inside looking to gain a spot. Smith's car broke loose in the ensuing scramble, and he spun to bring out a caution with just four laps remaining. All of the drivers except for Smith were able to keep their cars moving, but Smith stalled and as a result was sent to the rear of the pack for causing the yellow. All of the hard work he had done to this point went up in tire smoke.
Arp was able to grab the fourth spot in the wild four-lap dash to the finish, and following him across the line was Wallace. Dean took home a fine sixth place finish with Bob Pierce, Bill Frye, Jim McDuffie and David Gibson rounding out the top ten.
Dean, who is from nearby Chunky, MS and the veteran Pierce earned their way into the field by way of a promoter's option, and it proved to be a smart decision as the crowd was thrilled as the two cars worked their way through the field. Dean had started in the 25th position while Pierce started 26th in the field.
1996 HAV-A-TAMPA National Champion Freddy Smith suffered through a difficult evening as he made several trips to the pits early in the race before being forced to retire and accept a 20th place finish, 18 laps behind the leaders.
The race saw the caution flag fly nine times and at the end there were still 20 of the 26 starters running. 54 cars showed up to attempt to make the starting lineup at Whynot Speedway, making the average car count for the 1997 season come to 61.
Next stop on the tour will be this Friday and Saturday nights at Fayetteville (NC) Motor Speedway for a $15,000-to-win event.
RACE RESULTS 1. Donnie Moran Dresden, OH 100 laps 2. Billy Moyer Batesville, AR 100 3. Steve Russell Pontotoc, MS 100 4. Skip Arp Georgetown, TN 100 5. Wendell Wallace Batesville, AR 100 6. James Dean Chunky, MS 100 7. Bob Pierce Danville, IL 100 8. Bill Frye Greenbrier, AR 100 9. Jim McDuffie Meridian, MS 100 10. David Gibson Ash Flat, AR 100 11. Scott Slay Jackson, MS 100 12. Johnny Stokes Columbus, MS 100 13. Ray Cook Murphy, NC 100 14. Earl Pearson Jr Jacksonville, FL 100 15. Clint Smith Griffin, GA 100 16. Kenny Merchant Ruston, LA 99 17. Ronnie Poche Natchitoches, LA 99 18. Eddie Rickman Columbus, MS 99 19. Randy Cummings Stewart, MS 95 20. Freddy Smith Knoxville, TN 82 21. Dale McDowell Rossville, GA 77 22. Marshall Green Dalton, GA 71 23. Robbie Starnes Houston, TX 45 24. Randle Chupp Knoxville, TN 34 25. Mike Boland Cuba, AL 26 26. Randy Boyd Meridian, MS 23
ISKY Racing Cams Fast Gun Award - Donnie Moran 13.67 secs/81.11 mph
HAV-A-TAMAP POINTS STANDINGS(after 9 events of 32)
1. Billy Moyer 1429 2. Freddy Smith 1348 3. Wendell Wallace 1329 4. Donnie Moran 1234 5. Clint Smith 1218 6. Dale McDowell 1194 7. Steve Russell 1158 8. Bill Frye 1107 9. Skip Arp 1098 10. Johnny Virden 1090 11. Marshall Green 1063 12. David Gibson 1057 13. Ray Cook 979 14. Robbie Starnes 935 15. Gar Dickson 834 16. Kenny Merchant 793 17. Ronnie Johnson 757 18. Mark Miner 752 19. Jason Smith 730 20. Steve Francis 705
John Kaiser, Racing Information Systems