Saturday night at Southern Raceway every driver seemed to want to lead the pack going into turn one, but as the cautions flew, the key drivers learned it was be there at the end that mattered most.
With $1,000 on the line in the Open Wheel Modified Division Joey Bartlett, Mike Lane, and Todd Neiheiser put on a power packed show.
Bartlett led the first eight laps with Lane and Neiheiser battling hard for second and third.
Restarting the race on lap eight, Neiheiser drove around his teammate and Lane was quick to follow.
It looked as if the dash for the cash went from a field of three drivers to just two until lap 17 when the leaders go together coming off turn four and Bartlett drove around Neiheiser and Lane as they cars spun.
With two of the top contending cars at the back of the pack, Bartlett was once again in the lead.
While Bartlett had the lead with three laps remaining, he had to contend with Ryan Fowler who had maneuvered his car through the wreck fest and was now in second place.
Bartlett had what it took on the track and held on to beat Fowler followed by Brian McArdle, Joey Moxley, and Robin Lashley to round out the top five.
That old adage of leading the last lap proved correct again in the Pure Stock Division, and the person on the short end of the adage again was Jessica Donaldson.
Donaldson was in the top five the entire night as she was challenging Josh Kimmons, Mike Emmons, and Jesse James.
On lap 13 lightning struck the front of the field as Kimmons Emmons, and James tangled coming off turn four and Donaldson found the hole to drive her car through untouched.
Donaldson led the field to the green flag for the restart, but for the second consecutive week lap 18 got the young lady from Ft. Walton Beach as she was hit from behind by Lane Heaton coming off of turn four.
Bubba Fletcher was the recipient of Donaldson’s misfortune and got the lead for the final restart of the night.
Fletcher drove the wheels off of his car and held off a hard charging Mike Emmons by just inches at the finish line.
Rounding out the top five were Kylan Nathey, James, and Bennie Kimmons.
Chris Bayhi led the vintage series from the drop of the green flag while all of the action and seven cautions were behind him.
Bayhi was wondering when things were going to end as consecutive accidents on laps 17 and 18 saw his lead disappear.
With Bayhi leading the field to a restart on lap 18, he was holding off Kraig Crossley and defending series champion James Ward, while Blake Martin and Brandon Kilpatrick tangled behind him after taking the white flag.
Bayhi finished the race leading all 20 laps followed by Crossley and Ward. Rounding out the tip five ere Wesley Riddles and last week’s winner John Cody.
The NeSmith Street Stock Division saw Milton’s Bo Bailey dominate.
Bailey took the lead on lap two after Jim Jarvis, Kilpatrick, and Fred McGhee Jr. got tangled up on lap 2.
From there Bailey held off some challenges to secure the win.
Rounding out the top five behind Bailey were Tim Wetzel, JC Wilson, Jarvis and Kilpatrick.
Saturday also saw the return of the stinger cars to the three-eighths mile dirt.
Gary Watson ran away with the show followed by Russell Estain, Patrick Baker, Waylon Wolfe, and Zack Jordan.
The night concluded with a demolition derby which saw Guy Finney deliver the knockout blows to the cars of Dylan Merritt and Walker Merritt for the win.
Next week at the South’s Finest Dirt Track it will be Fan Appreciation Night where all tickets are just five dollars as well as a six pack shootout for the Bay Area Modifieds, who will be a part of the nights racing action as well.
Heat Race Results
Pure Stock Heat 1 – 1. Josh Kimmons, 2 Bubba Fletcher, 3. Kylan Nathey, 4. Larry Day, and 5. Gueston Rogers
Pure Stock Heat 2 – 1. Jesse James, 2. Troy Williams, 3. Huck Gibson, 4. Jason Dollar, and 5. Bennie Kimmons
Pure Stock Heat 3 – 1. Jessica Donaldson, 2. Hunter Ward, 3. Mike Emmons, 4. William Davis, and 5. Christopher Gibson
Pure Stock Heat 4 – 1. Lane Heaton, 2. Henry Bailey, 3. Jake Moore, 4. Donald Hardy, and 5. Roy Brook
Vintage Heat 1 – 1. Chris Bayhi, 2. Martin Cuevas, 3. Logan Nathey, 4. Kraig Crossley, and 5. John Cody
Vintage Heat 2 – 1. James Ward, 2. Blake Martin, 3. Levi Donaldson, 4. Wesley Riddles, and 5. Robin Christensen
Open Wheel Modified Heat 1 – 1. Joey Bartlett, 2. Brian McArdle, 3. Dan Neisius, 4. Joel Wyatt, and 5. Jason Sims.
Open Wheel Modified Heat 2 – 1. Todd Neiheiser, 2. Nick Poole, 3. Lucas Morris, 4. Robin Lashley, and 5. Dale Peaden
Open Wheel Modified Heat 3 – 1. Mike Lane, 2. Joey Moxley, 3. Tyler Allen, 4. Ryan Fowler, and 5. Greg Hopkins
NeSmith Street Stock Heat 1 – 1. Jim Jarvis, 2. Bo Bailey, 3. Branden Harris, 4. Tim Wetzel, and 5. Matt Chavers.
NeSmith Street Stock Heat 1 – 1. Brandon Kilpatrick, 2. J.C Wilson, 3. Matthew Holcomb, 4. Fred McGhee Jr., and 5. Alan Flanagan.
Stinger Heat 1 – 1. Gary Watson, 2. Russell Estain, 3. Patrick Baker, 4. Zack Jordan, and 5. Waylon Wolfe