National Late Model Sportsman SUNOCO/Bearden Oil 75: Report and Results
18 August 1997"HERMAN does "Monster Mash" at Penton
Penton, AL - The power of "Herman" struck again at Penton Raceway, AL as the National Late Model Sportsman Series made its only stop of the 1997 season in the "Heart of Dixie". In front of a large crowd and topping off a full and exciting night of racing, Gene Maine, of Valdosta, GA, utilized the power of his Dennis Bennett built Bennett Brothers motor, nicknamed "Herman" by the crew, to take the win in the SUNOCO Bearden Oil 75. Maine took the lead on the fourth lap and kept the Bennett Bros/Russell Brown/Ives Racing Chevrolet out front for the rest of the 75 laps to garner his third win of the season on the highly competitive series. By taking his third checkered flag of the season, Maine became only the second driver to win three races, and the first to win three in one season, on the National Late Model Sportsman Series. Finishing in second place was Cecil Eunice of Blackshear, GA, in the Bennett Bros/Snow Bros/ Norman Pontiac/Ace Pole Co. Chevrolet giving Bennett Brothers motors a 1-2 finish. Third place in the event went to pole sitter Billy Godowns Jr. of Louisville, GA in the Wynns/Walt Newman/Henderson Chevrolet/Godowns Farm Chevy.
Billy Godowns Jr led the 23 car field to the green flag and took the lead going into turn one on the first lap. Maine, Tracy Mimbs, Ivedent Lloyd and fast qualifier Paul George lined up behind him as the cars exited turn two. With a smooth, impeccably prepared track under the wheels, the cars were immediately clocking laps over a second faster than they had run in qualifying. On lap three Maine took the low line into turn three and edged his nose under Godowns. The cars ran side-by-side through turns 3 & 4 with Maine taking the lead just past the start/finish line. Godowns tried to get the point back entering turn one, but was unable to keep the car low enough in the corner and was forced to fall back into second. Behind the leaders, cars were running nose-to-tail as drivers patiently felt out the track to find the best grip
Following the first caution of the race on the 13th lap, Maine opened a three car-length lead over Godowns while further back, Cecil Eunice was beginning to make a move towards the front. After taking the time to feel out the track and establish his rhythm, Eunice, who had started in sixth, began looking for a way around George. Eventually Eunice got the inside line and was able to slide up the track exiting turn 2 and take the position. With only about two car-lengths separating each of the top five cars, Eunice soon closed on fourth running Lloyd and began the process of finding his way around the Ocala, FL driver.
By the halfway point of the race, Eunice had used the inside to gain fourth and was now looking at the rear end of Mimbs. Eunice was able to make the pass on lap 50, but by now Godowns was running about 6 car lengths ahead and Eunice was not closing the distance very quickly. With the parity that exists on the series it usually takes a mistake to allow a car to close down this sort of distance and on lap 56 Godowns slid high in turn four and in a flash Eunice was on his bumper. Godowns continued to hold second, but with the experience gained from over 500 wins Eunice was not about to be denied and on lap 62 he slid beneath the Godowns machine and slipped into second in turn four. Maine's lead was now three car-lengths over Eunice with Godowns still hanging onto third, Mimbs fourth and Lloyd in fifth.
The fourth and final caution came out on lap 66 and the field was bunched for a nine lap shootout to the finish. Maine got a good jump on the restart, but Eunice was right behind him with the rest of the snarling pack hard on his heels. With the laps winding down, Eunice, who had been closing the gap on Maine before the caution, now could not gain any ground and was forced to settle for second. Lloyd, who has been making a habit of late runs to the front all season, slid under Mimbs for fourth on lap 68, but ran out of laps before he could mount a serious challenge to Godowns for third.
25 cars were on hand for qualifying Friday and they proved just how close the competition on the series is. The top five qualifiers were within two-one thousandths of a second of each other and the entire field was covered by just six tenths of a second. Paul George of Pierson, Fl was the quickest with a time of 15.71 seconds for an average speed of 68.746 mph. By comparison, the fastest lap of the race was turned by Eunice on lap 64 when he turned a time of 14.78 seconds for an average speed of 73.072 mph. Heat races were won by Godowns, Maine, Mimbs and Lloyd with John Rankin taking the victory in the consolation race. The $2,500 bonus qualifier that will represent Penton in the "Showdown on the Coast" season finale at Golden Isle Speedway, Brunswick, GA was Paul George. There were 16 cars on the lead lap at race's end and no cars were lapped on the track during the race. All laps were lost in the pits.
The next stop for the National Late Model Sportsman Series will be at 441 Speedway, in Dublin, GA on August 29 and 30.
John Kaiser -- The Autochannel
Penton Raceway - NLMS - Qualifying results for the National Late Model Sportsman Series, SUNOCO/Bearden Oil 75: Ps.No. Driver , Car Lap Time M.P.H. -- ---- ----------------------------------------------------- --------------- 1 88 Paul George R&J Greeneries/Heather Farm Chev 0:15.710 68.746 2 201 Gene Maine Ives Racing/Russell Brown Racing Chev 0:15.720 68.702 3 28 Henry Carter Jr Mimbs Farms/Sweats Port Build Chev 0:15.720 68.702 4 21 Ivedent Lloyd Jr Snow Bros/Larry Moore Chev 0:15.720 68.702 5 20 Billy Godowns Jr Godowns Farm/Henderson Chev Chev 0:15.730 68.659 6 22 Cecil Eunice Norman Pontiac/Ace Pole Chev 0:15.760 68.528 7 2 Tracy Walden Infiltrator Systems/Ferguson Ent Chev 0:15.780 68.441 8 75 Andy Stewart Wendy's Auto/Jimmy Howe Realty Chev 0:15.860 68.096 9 0 Steve Jones Quality Saw Works/Beardon Oil Chev 0:15.860 68.096 10 66 Chuck Chitty C&C Powerline/J&W Engine Serv Chev 0:15.940 67.754 11 11 Tracy Mimbs Flexsteel/KFC/Mid-State Pools Chev 0:16.010 67.458 12 222 Jim Brophy Hartley's Tire/Scott's Fina Chev 0:16.020 67.416 13 32 Wendell Durrance Bills Timber/Bennett Bros Motor Chev 0:16.050 67.290 14 44 Ricky Brant Atlas Sand & Gravel/Compet Prod Chev 0:16.080 67.164 15 46 Everett Phillips Everett's Custom Services Chev 0:16.100 67.081 16 10 Lee Jackson Mallard's Auto Parts/Bounty Hse Chev 0:16.110 67.039 17 53 John Rankin Rankin Const/Snow Bros/Kroury EngChev 0:16.130 66.956 18 55 Terry Lumley Hollywood Race cars/Hadden WrkingChev 0:16.140 66.914 19 12 Chris Usry Washington Wood/Robinson TruckingFord 0:16.210 66.626 20 10X Jeff Culpepper Bowden Littleton Const/Hodge HomeChev 0:16.240 66.502 21 1m Sam Moore Morris Signs/Sneakers Chev 0:16.260 66.421 22 P21 Larry Perry Jr Snow Bros/Reeves RPM/SMC TruckingChev 0:16.300 66.258 23 L2 Kenny LeCroy TWA Wrestling/LeCroy's Rivets Chev 0:16.370 65.974 24 45 Bryan Jenkins Paschall's Wood Service Chev 0:17.160 62.937 Track Length : 0.3000 Miles Penton Raceway - NLMS - Provisional results for the National Late Model Sportsman Series, SUNOCO/Bearden Oil 75: Ps.Ql.No. Driver , Car Laps -- -- ---- ----------------------------------------------------- ----- 1 2 201 Gene Maine Ives Racing/Russell Brown Racing Chev 75 2 6 22 Cecil Eunice Norman Pontiac/Ace Pole Chev 75 3 1 20 Billy Godowns Jr Godowns Farm/Henderson Chev Chev 75 4 4 21 Ivedent Lloyd Jr Snow Bros/Larry Moore Chev 75 5 3 11 Tracy Mimbs Flexsteel/KFC/Mid-State Pools Chev 75 6 5 88 Paul George R&J Greeneries/Heather Farm Chev 75 7 7 12 Chris Usry Washington Wood/Robinson TruckingFord 75 8 11 46 Everett Phillips Everett's Custom Services Chev 75 9 9 55 Terry Lumley Hollywood Race cars/Hadden WrkingChev 75 10 15 2 Tracy Walden Infiltrator Systems/Ferguson Ent Chev 75 11 13 32 Wendell Durrance Bills Timber/Bennett Bros Motor Chev 75 12 20 44 Ricky Brant Atlas Sand & Gravel/Compet Prod Chev 75 13 18 28 Henry Carter Jr Mimbs Farms/Sweats Port Build Chev 75 14 14 66 Chuck Chitty C&C Powerline/J&W Engine Serv Chev 75 15 8 75 Andy Stewart Wendy's Auto/Jimmy Howe Realty Chev 75 16 22 L2 Kenny LeCroy TWA Wrestling/LeCroy's Rivets Chev 75 17 19 P21 Larry Perry Jr Snow Bros/Reeves RPM/SMC TruckingChev 68 18 9 0 Steve Jones Quality Saw Works/Beardon Oil Chev 62 19 12 10 Lee Jackson Mallard's Auto Parts/Bounty Hse Chev 37 20 16 222 Jim Brophy Hartley's Tire/Scott's Fina Chev 32 21 21 2c DeWayne Chancey Performance Elec/Fast Trak Comm Chev 0 22 23 45 Bryan Jenkins Paschall's Wood Service Chev 0 23 17 53 John Rankin Rankin Const/Snow Bros/Kroury EngChev 0 Time of Race : 47 mins 42.02 secs Margin of Victory : 3 car lengths Lap Leaders : Godowns, Maine Fastest Lap : Cecile Eunice, lap 64, 14.78 secs Cautions : 4 Track Length : 0.3000 Miles