National Late Model Sportsman Series Results and Report from Cochran Speedway
21 July 1997Cochran, GA - Taking advantage of his home track knowledge as well as a good handling car, Dennis McDaniel of Macon, GA held off the unrelenting challenges from Louisville, GA's Billy Godowns to put his Marshall/Hooker/Marshall Septic Tank/TSI Electrical/Marshall Racing Team Chevrolet Camaro into Victory Lane for the National Late Model Sportsman Series "Wouldja, Couldja, Wanna Win 125 presented by Bearden Oil" at Cochran Speedway in Cochran, GA. The win was the first ever for McDaniel on the NLMS Series Southern Dirt Tour, and came in front of an overflow crowd of more than 4000 people at his home track.
"We finally did it," McDaniel exclaimed following the race. "We have been trying to win one of these for a while and we finally got it right. This is really great. We only got the setup figured out for this car last week here, and we used the same settings tonight. We could not have held on much longer, the right rear is gone."
With 30 cars on hand to begin the weekend's activities, Jim Fordham set the fast time in qualifying with his Fordham Farms Chevrolet. Of the 27 cars that took times in qualifying, 25 of them were within one second of Fordahm's 18.720 second clocking around the high banked 3/8 mile clay oval. Fordham's average speed for the lap was 96.15 mph. Heat races saw McDaniel, Godowns, Andy Stewart and Steve Jones take the wins to nab the first four spots in the starting order for the feature.
When the green flag fell on the 26 car field, McDaniel took advantage of his pole position to take the low line into turn with Godowns taking the high groove. As the cars emerged from turn two, it was McDaniels who had the point. Stewart fell into third place with Jones in fourth and Alex Vickers in fifth. Godowns was not giving McDaniel a moments respite as he gnawed at the rear bumper of the orange and white number 51. Behind the front duo the same was holding true as Jones kept the pressure on Stewart.
Two quick cautions for single car spins on laps 14 and 16 slowed the field momentarily, but then the battles resumed throughout the field. With the entire field running in tight formation, it was racing at its best as equally matched cars hurtled down the straight-aways and slid into the corners seeking the advantage to gain a position while also trying not to lose the one they already had. By the 25 lap mark in the race the front five remained the same with Cecil Eunice running in sixth, Tracy Walden seventh and Jimmy Grantham, Everett Phillips and Joe Kump rounding out the top ten.
On lap 33 Vickers slowed coming out of turn four and headed for the pits, a victim of mechanical failure and Eunice moved into fifth. Four laps later it was Walden who fell off the pace and retired for the evening and then on lap 43 Eunice also headed into the pits, his race over early. This moved Grantham, another local racer, into fifth, much to the delight of the crowd.
The car on the move during the later stages of the race was that of Henry Carter Jr from Swainsboro, GA who made a great move to the outside coming out of turn two and passed both Ricky Brant and Tracy Mimbs as the cars flew down the backstraight. In many series, this move would not have been possible, but with experienced drivers like Brant and Mimbs, Carter was able to make the move with confidence knowing that he would not be shouldered off the track.
As the leaders encountered lapped traffic, the battles continued unabated with the slower cars quickly moving to the inside to allow the faster cars to pass and continue their fights. On lap 64 Carter and Gene Maine were battling down the back straight and at the same time trying to avoid a slower car on the inside. When Maine slowed early to enter turn three Carter bumped him in the rear sending Maine flying off the top of turn three. Maine quickly recovered, reentered the track unassisted and continued without losing a lap. The final ten laps of the race saw the continuing battles throughout the field intensify, bring the crowd to their feet as tires began to lose grip and cars skated sideways in the corners. On two separate occasions, Godowns was able to get the nose of his Henderson Chevrolet/Godowns Farms Chevy inside McDaniel as the leader wiggled coming off turn four, but both times McDaniel was able to settle the car, get the tires hooked up and hold the lead as the two rocketed down the front straight. McDaniel held his car low in the corners allowing Godowns an opportunity to try the high side, but Godowns was unable to take advantage and settled for the second spot as the checkered flag flew following 75 laps of hard and clean racing action. Andy Stewart was able to fend of Steve Jones for third, his best ever finish on the Southern Dirt Tour and Grantham took the fifth spot. Everett Phillips finished in sixth place, Dennis Smith was able to work his way into seventh and Carter took eighth at the line. Joe Kump and Brant rounded out the top ten. With his win, McDaniel became the 30th different winner in the last 37 races on the National Late Model Sportsman Series, which continues to maintain its claim to being the most competitive series in the Southeast.
The next stop for the National Late Model Sportsman Ssries will be at Waycross Motor Speedway on August 1 & 2 for another 75 lap race paying $4,000 to the winner.
Cochran Speedway NLMS- Provisional results for the National Late Model Sportsman Series, Wouldja, Couldja, Wanna Win 125:
Ps.Ql.No. Driver , Car Laps -- -- ---- ----------------------------------------------------- ----- 1 1 51 Dennis McDaniel Marshall Septic/Cent GA Equip Chev 75 2 2 20 Billy Godowns Jr Godowns Farm/Henderson Chev Chev 75 3 3 75 Andy Stewart Wendy's Auto/Giffin Plumbing/BFI Chev 75 4 4 0 Steve Jones Quality Saw Works/Beardon Oil Chev 75 5 10 22x Jimmy Grantham Grantham Racing Chev 75 6 9 46 Everett Phillips Everett's Custom Services Chev 75 7 11 D21 Dennis Smith Holliman Heat & Air/Friecheck Chev 75 8 16 28 Henry Carter Jr Mimbs Farms/Sweats Port Build Chev 75 9 12 721 Joe Kump A-1 Specialty/Car House Chev 75 10 15 44 Ricky Brant Atlas Sand & Gravel/Compet Prod Chev 75 11 24 37 Robby Metts Tool Shop Contracts/Willis Paint Chev 75 12 21 2c DeWayne Chancey Performance Elec/Fast Trak Comm Chev 75 13 13 201 Gene Maine Ives Racing/Russell Brown Racing Chev 75 14 18 60 Bo Allen NCOA/Allen Brothers Welding Chev 75 15 22 45 Bryan Jenkins Jenkins Racing Chev 74 16 14 38 Claud Caldwell Caldwell Motorsports Chev 74 17 25 P21 Larry Perry Jr Snow Bros/Reeves RPM/SMC TruckingChev 72 18 20 32 Wendell Durrance Bills Timber/Bennett Bros Motor Chev 70 19 17 28D Tracy Mimbs Lamar's Trans/Rains Build Supply Chev 65 20 26 222 Jim Brophy Hartley's Tire/Scott's Fina Chev 52 21 7 22 Cecil Eunice Norman Pontiac/Ace Pole Chev 43 22 27 3T Mike Mishoe Little's Paints/Cork's Fabricare Chev 42 23 8 2 Tracy Walden Infiltrator Systems/Ferguson Ent Chev 37 24 5 17V Alex Vickers AutoZone Chev 33 25 19 10 Lee Jackson Mallard's Auto Parts/Bounty Hse Chev 24 26 23 3 Gary Spivey Trident Supply/Aggressive Signs Chev 4 107 did not start, 3T added to field as first alternate Time of Race : 48 min 36.46 secs Margin of Victory : 1 car length Lap Leaders : McDaniel 1-75 Cautions : 6 for 28 laps Track Length : 0.3750 Miles
John Kaiser -- The Auto Channel