National Late Model Sportsman Series Results and Report: Blue Collar 75
2 September 1997"Gentleman" Gene Gets Fourth in Dublin Duel
Dublin, GA - The Blue Collar 75 Presented by Aggressive Signs at 441 Speedway in Dublin, GA proved to be one of the best races of the year on the highly competitive National Late Model Sportsman Series. When the dust of 75 laps of intense action settled, it was "Gentleman" Gene Maine of Quitman, GA who was sitting in Victory Lane with his fourth win of the season on the Southern Dirt Tour. The record breaking fourth win did not come easily to the Kim Ives owned Bennett Brothers/Russell Brown/Ives Racing Chevrolet, who needed some help from Lady Luck to get the lead and some very skillful driving to maintain it. The win made Maine the first driver in series history to win four races and he also was the first back-to-back winner on the touring series having won the last race at Penton, AL. Finishing one car length behind Maine was Dennis Smith in the Holliman Heat and Air/Firecheck Chevrolet with Rookie of the Year contender Wiley McDaniel in the Robertson/Jig-A-Lo/Robertson Racing Chevrolet taking third. Fourth place went to 1996 NLMS Champion Ivedent Lloyd in the Koury/Snow Brothers/Larry Moore Chevy Chevrolet and rounding out the top five was "The Dinosaur" Cecil Eunice in the Norman Bennett Brothers/Snow Brothers/Norman Pontiac/Ace Pole Co. Chevrolet.
The green flag fell on the 25 car starting field after a 24 hour delay imposed by Mother Nature. As the cars roared through the first two turns side-by-side Chris Usry in the Grahan & McTier/Walter Newman/ Washington Wood/Robinson Trucking Ford used his outside front row starting position to take the lead off turn two and immediately began to pull away from the tightly bunched field. Usry slowly expanded his lead until the first of 15 cautions slowed the field and allowed the pack to catch up. Polesitter Gene Maine was running second with Lloyd third, Steve Jones fourth and Henry Carter fifth.
On the restart Usry was able to once again pull away from the pack while the rest of the field began to jockey for position. Joe Kump, who started at the rear of the field had already gained five places and was rapidly moving towards the front. Cecil Eunice and Scotty Nipper were engaged in a battle all their own for the 11th spot while Jones and Carter were fighting it out for fourth, and the Rookie honors. The battle would end when Jones suffered a driveline failure and retired for the evening on lap 14.
Usry continued to hold command of the race and it was not until almost the halfway point that Maine was able to mount a serious challenge. On a restart, Maine was able to get under Usry as the cars entered turn one, but once again the power of the Ford coming off turn two was the deciding factor and Usry retained the lead. As the race neared the halfway point a flurry of cautions occurred. During the process of cleanup, it was noted that Usry had a right rear tire going down and he was forced to make a trip to the pits to get a new tire on the car, surrendering the lead, and all chances of a win. Maine inherited the lead with Henry Carter on his bumper. Carter took the bit between his teeth and began challenging hard for the lead, but in his attempts to pass Maine he left the door open for Lloyd to slide past him. Lloyd now showed the skill that had taken him to the Championship last year as he stuck to the rear of the Maine car lap after lap searching high and low for a way to pass. Although Maine had the power coming off the turns, Lloyd was able to drive in deeper and there was no daylight to be seen between the cars as they roared down the front straight time and again.
By lap 40 Kump had moved into the top ten and the entire field was still on the lead lap. Dennis Smith and Wiley McDaniel had hooked up together and moved into fourth and fifth behind Carter and were soon challenging for the spot. With no more than one car length separating any two cars in the field there was plenty of action all around the track. Eunice had broken away from Nipper and was up to seventh place and challenging Andy Stewart for sixth. After starting in 16th position, Billy Godowns now running in eighth and Usry had run down the pack following his pit stop and was beginning to move through traffic as he tried desperately to regain the front. With the competition as close as it is on this series he faced a serious challenge.
For the next 20 laps Lloyd and Maine proceeded to battle endlessly for the lead with Mine countering every move Lloyd could make. Lloyd tried to go in high and come out low and then tried diving to the bottom and coming out high. Wherever he went Maine had the answer and continued to hold him at bay. Eunice was slowly working his way forward and by lap 50 was in sixth with Godowns right behind him in seventh. On lap 55 Eunice was able to scratch his way past Stewart for fifth, but although Godowns tried to follow Eunice some skillful driving by Stewart held him off.
As the cars reached the 60th lap Maine still held the barest of leads over Lloyd with Smith third, Wiley McDaniel fourth and Eunice fifth. Lloyd's car appeared to pick up a push, but that was more than equaled by a slight looseness in Maine's car and the battle continued to be waged. Smith, McDaniel and Eunice were all within striking distance of the lead and one slip by any of the leaders could cost them a number of positions. On lap 71 Lloyd tried once again to pass Maine on the high side and the car pushed up the track. When this happened, Smith and McDaniel flashed below him to take second and third, relegating Lloyd to fourth. Now it was the turn of Smith to try and pass Maine, but there was not enough time left and although he made an effort it was not enough to stop Maine from taking his fourth checkered flag of the year.
"This was not easy," Maine said afterwards. "That Ford had us covered and we were very lucky that he cut a tire, I don't think we would have had anything for him. Ivedent (Lloyd) raced me clean all night. I could hold him off because I was getting out of the corners better. He was breathing down my neck for the entire second half of the race. He was definitely faster than we were but I tried to hold my line and we were able to get the win."
There were 30 cars on hand for the event and in qualifying time trials the top five cars were covered by only .02 seconds. The top 25 cars were within .6 seconds of each other. Heat race victories went to Maine, Usry, Lloyd and Smith. There were fifteen cautions and the race took 58 minutes to complete. 17 cars were on the lead lap at the end of the event, and for the fourth race in a row no cars lost a lap on the track. Maine, Andy Stewart and Lloyd were all clocked in identical 19.26 seconds to share fast qualifier honors with Maine gaining the pole for the first heat by virtue of qualifying earliest. Dennis Smith qualified as the second Dublin representative at the "Showdown on the Coast" to be held at Golden Isle Speedway, Brunswick, GA on November 1 and is eligible for the $2,500 bonus.
The next event for the National Late Model Sportsman Series will be September 12 and 13th at Thunderbowl Speedway in Valdosta, GA. The 75 lap feature event will again pay $4,000 to the winner.
John Kaiser -- The Autochannel
441 Speedway - NLMS - Qualifying results for the National Late Model Sportsman Series, Blue Collar 75 Presented by Aggressive Signs: Ps.No. Driver , Car Lap Time M.P.H. -- ---- ----------------------------------------------------- -------- ------- 1 201 Gene Maine Ives Racing/Russell Brown Racing Chev 0:19.260 93.458 2 75 Andy Stewart Wendy's Auto/Jimmy Howe Realty Chev 0:19.260 93.458 3 21 Ivedent Lloyd Jr Snow Bros/Larry Moore Chev 0:19.260 93.458 4 5 Wiley McDaniel Robertson Racing Chev 0:19.290 93.313 5 0 Steve Jones Quality Saw Works/Beardon Oil Chev 0:19.290 93.313 6 12 Chris Usry Washington Wood/Robinson TruckingFord 0:19.320 93.168 7 55 Terry Lumley Hollywood Race cars/Hadden WrkingChev 0:19.360 92.975 8 D21 Dennis Smith Holliman Heat & Air/Firecheck/HRSChev 0:19.380 92.879 9 46 Everett Phillips Everett's Custom Services Chev 0:19.420 92.688 10 28 Henry Carter Jr Mimbs Farms/Sweats Port Build Chev 0:19.430 92.640 11 22 Cecil Eunice Norman Pontiac/Ace Pole Chev 0:19.450 92.545 12 1 Scotty Nipper Scotty's Muffler/Go-Fast GraphicsChev 0:19.450 92.545 13 17 Alex Vickers AutoZone Chev 0:19.460 92.497 14 28D Jimmy Sharpe Lamar's Trans/Rains Build Supply Chev 0:19.460 92.497 15 222 Jim Brophy Hartley's Tire/Scott's Fina Chev 0:19.510 92.260 16 20 Billy Godowns Jr Godowns Farm/Henderson Chev Chev 0:19.580 91.931 17 51 Dennis McDaniel Marshall Septic/Cent GA Equip Chev 0:19.610 91.790 18 00 David Poole Country Classic Homes Chev 0:19.670 91.510 19 45 Ricky Woodward Paschall's Wood Service Chev 0:19.680 91.463 20 2c DeWayne Chancey Performance Elec/Fast Trak Comm Chev 0:19.710 91.324 21 2 Tracy Walden Infiltrator Systems/Ferguson Ent Chev 0:19.790 90.955 22 11 Tracy Mimbs Flexsteel/KFC/Mid-State Pools Chev 0:19.820 90.817 23 10 Lee Jackson Mallard's Auto Parts/Bounty Hse Chev 0:19.850 90.680 24 39 Sambo Taylor Fred White Const/McDaniels CabntsChev 0:19.870 90.589 25 22x Jimmy Grantham Grantham Racing Chev 0:19.930 90.316 26 44 Ricky Brant Atlas Sand & Gravel/Compet Prod Chev 0:20.150 89.330 27 66 Chuck Chitty C&C Powerline/J&W Engine Serv Chev 0:20.470 87.934 Track Length : 0.5000 Miles 441 Speedway - NLMS - Provisional results for the National Late Model Sportsman Series, Blue Collar 75 Presented by Aggressive Signs: Ps.Ql.No. Driver , Car Laps -- -- ---- ----------------------------------------------------- ----- 1 1 201 Gene Maine Ives Racing/Russell Brown Racing Chev 75 2 8 D21 Dennis Smith Holliman Heat & Air/Firecheck/HRSChev 75 3 4 5 Wiley McDaniel Robertson Racing Chev 75 4 3 21 Ivedent Lloyd Jr Snow Bros/Larry Moore Chev 75 5 11 22 Cecil Eunice Norman Pontiac/Ace Pole Chev 75 6 2 75 Andy Stewart Wendy's Auto/Jimmy Howe Realty Chev 75 7 16 20 Billy Godowns Jr Godowns Farm/Henderson Chev Chev 75 8 21 2 Tracy Walden Infiltrator Systems/Ferguson Ent Chev 75 9 10 28 Henry Carter Jr Mimbs Farms/Sweats Port Build Chev 75 10 721 Joe Kump A-1 Specialty/Car House Chev 75 11 12 1 Scotty Nipper Scotty's Muffler/Go-Fast GraphicsChev 75 12 32 Wendell Durrance Bills Timber/Bennett Bros Motor Chev 75 13 9 46 Everett Phillips Everett's Custom Services Chev 75 14 6 12 Chris Usry Washington Wood/Robinson TruckingFord 75 15 17 51 Dennis McDaniel Marshall Septic/Cent GA Equip Chev 75 16 15 222 Jim Brophy Hartley's Tire/Scott's Fina Chev 75 17 26 44 Ricky Brant Atlas Sand & Gravel/Compet Prod Chev 75 18 19 45 Ricky Woodward Paschall's Wood Service Chev 68 19 22 11 Tracy Mimbs Flexsteel/KFC/Mid-State Pools Chev 62 20 27 66 Chuck Chitty C&C Powerline/J&W Engine Serv Chev 45 21 23 10 Lee Jackson Mallard's Auto Parts/Bounty Hse Chev 34 22 14 28D Jimmy Sharpe Lamar's Trans/Rains Build Supply Chev 26 23 20 2c DeWayne Chancey Performance Elec/Fast Trak Comm Chev 21 24 7 55 Terry Lumley Hollywood Race cars/Hadden WrkingChev 13 25 5 0 Steve Jones Quality Saw Works/Beardon Oil Chev 13 Time of Race : 58 mins Margin of Victory : 1 car length Lap Leaders : Usry, Maine Cautions : 15 Track Length : 0.5000 Miles