SWAINSBORO, Ga. — Donald McIntosh survived. Period.
As one of only five drivers to finish Friday’s attrition-filled Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals race at Swainsboro Raceway, the Dawsonville, Ga., driver had, at worst, a 20 percent chance to win in the final stages. Having the fastest car left on the track certainly upped his odds though.
McIntosh, who led laps 32 through 39 before giving way to Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., reclaimed the lead from Roberts following a restart on lap 40 and led the final 13 circuits to win his third straight series race and fourth of his career. Enduring 11 cautions along the way, McIntosh pulled away over the final eight laps to win by a whopping 6.063 seconds.
Shannon Buckingham of Morristown, Tenn., who started 18th, finished second for his second podium finish in as many nights and 19th-starting Dennis Franklin of Gaffney, S.C., finished third. Brent Dixon of Elkton, Ga., and Scott Shirey of Swansea, S.C., completed the top five.
Series points leader Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., led a handful of laps before pitting with a flat tire. He rallied back to the front and was running second when he retired with five laps remaining. He still finished sixth.
McIntosh was one of four leaders — joining Riley Hickman, Overton and Roberts — on a night when just finishing the race seemed like a victory in itself.
“I don’t believe I’ve worked (that) hard in 24 years,” said an obviously exhausted McIntosh. “Three (wins) in a row, that’s just now sinking in. I just wanted the race to be over. He said five to go (on the Raceceiver) and swear we ran a dozen (more laps) there.”
McIntosh started fifth and found himself in contention when Hickman of Ooltewah, Tenn., the polesitter and early race leader, ran into the spinning car of Kenny Collins of Colbert, Ga., in turn four. The lap-10 accident also collected the car of second-running Ross Bailes of Clover, S.C., who had been hounding Hickman for better than five laps.
Hickman blasted into the lead at the start with Bailes in tow. When they tangled to draw the second caution of the race, the two had pulled away to a sizable lead. Hickman’s damage sent him to the pit area for the night, while Bailes changed a right rear tire and tagged the rear of the field.
Overton inherited the lead, but it was short-lived. He pulled out to a huge lead over Roberts, but it was erased when the third caution came out on lap 19. During the caution, Overton pulled to the infield to change a right rear tire, handing the lead to Roberts.
McIntosh took the second spot from G.R. Smith on lap 21. Within five laps, Roberts had built a 2.196-second advantage. Meanwhile, McIntosh was content rolling around the bottom trying to stay out of the rough. Further back, Overton was sailing around the top of the track while making a mad dash back to the front.
“Being in the bottom was the smart move, but we’re all out here racing,” said McIntosh. “The top was rough, but it had some speed to it, so that’s where I went.”
Though risky as the rough surface began to take its toll — 11 drivers had already called it a night by lap 31 — the move paid off for McIntosh. He grabbed the lead from Roberts and paced the next nine laps before Roberts nosed back ahead on lap 40. That was the last lap Roberts would lead, however. McIntosh surged back ahead on a restart and stayed out front the rest of the way, despite three more caution flags in the final 13 laps.
Buckingham was never in position to challenge for the lead. He was, however, in position to take advantage when others began experiencing trouble. He steadily marched forward. With 10 laps remaining, he was up to fourth. The then inherited the runner-up spot when both Roberts and Overton fell to the wayside.
“I made my mind up I was gonna park it on the bottom and get as far as I could go,” said Buckingham. “I never thought I would get that far.”
Notes: McIntosh’s third straight victory helped him ease ahead of Overton in the series points standings. McIntosh (972 points) now has a four-point lead on Overton (968), while Buckingham (960) is only 12 markers behind the leader. … To add insult to injury, Collins’s spin that eventually eliminated Hickman and Bailes from contention came aboard the car of Jim Rogers. When the water pump went out in his own car, Collins borrowed the mount in order to start the race and gain valuable series points. … Seven of the 11 cautions were for a single car slowing on the track. Three of them were for single car accidents or spins. The lap-10 caution involving Hickman, Bailey and Collins was the only multi-car caution. … G.R. Smith arguably had the move of the race when he made a fifth-to-second move, splitting two cars going down the back straightaway following a lap-35 restart. The move was for naught however due to another caution. On the ensuing restart, Smith went from fifth to 10th.
Officials made the first call for drivers to report to staging at 11:28 p.m. … Craig Vosbergen of Perth, W. Australia, and Kenny Collins of Colbert, Ga., took series provisionals after experiencing troubles in their heats. Both drivers were reportedly looking to borrow a ride in order to compete. Collins had water pump issues in his car, while Vosbergen’s car was heavily damaged when he tagged the front stretch wall during his heat. Vosbergen's crew thrashed to get his car ready and were able to make the call, while Collins borred Jim Rogers' car in order to start the feature. … Farrel Skelton and Jason Walker, two drivers with perfect attendance thus far in the series, failed to make the A-main. ... With heat races complete just after 11 p.m., officials jumped back on the grader in an effort to smooth the track surface, which had reportedly developed a few rough patches. ... Track officials swapped the evening's running order a bit in order to do a little track prep. Following road warrior time trials, the track went directly to intermission with hopes of using the time to smooth out the surface. The grader and a bevy of track packers were still making their rounds at 10 p.m.
Row 1: Riley Hickman, Ross Bailey
Row 2: Brandon Overton, John Henderson
Row 3: Donald McIntosh, Casey Roberts
Row 4: Jason Fitzgerald, Steve Casebolt
Row 5: G.R. Smith, Michael Page
Row 6: Brent Dixon, Scott Shirey
Row 7: Donald Bradsher, Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
Row 8: Mark Whitener, Brandon Carpenter
Row 9: Brian Conner, Shannon Buckingham
Row 10: Dennis Franklin, Brian Ligon
Row 11: Craig Vosbergen, Kenny Collins
Slipping under polesitter Scott Shirey as they raced off turn two on lap two, Steve Casebolt led the rest of the way to win the fourth heat. Casebolt finished 1.731 seconds ahead of Shirey. Brandon Carpenter moved into third on lap four and held it to the finish, with Brian Ligon finishing fourth to take the final transfer spot.
Finish (top four transfer): Steve Casebolt, Scott Shirey, Brandon Carpenter, Brian Ligon, Farrel Skelton, Jason Walker
Casey Roberts drove under Michael Page as they raced into turn three on the second lap to grab the lead in the fourth heat. Roberts won ahead of Page and fifth-starting Ivedent Lloyd Jr. Shannon Buckingham trailed in fourth as only four cars finished the heat. Page took the lead from his pole starting position on the opening lap, but was under immediate pressure from Roberts. With a good run exiting turn two, Roberts drove under Page and gained the position through turns three and four. Buckingham had a left rear flat and drew a caution on lap two. His Double Down Motorsports crew changed the tire and Buckingham returned to the tail of the field. During the caution, Jim Rogers lost power under the hood of his machine and was pushed to the pit area. Kenny Collins was running fourth when he spun on lap two to bring out the third caution. He pulled to the pits.
Finish (top four transfer): Casey Roberts, Michael Page, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Shanon Buckingham, Kenny Collins, Jim Rogers
Jason Fitzgerald took the lead over Brent Dixon on the first lap and pulled away to win by 1.116 seconds. Dixon chased him across the finish. Mark Whitener finished third, another two seconds behind and defending race champion Dennis Franklin held down the final transfer spot. A caution waved on the initial green as officials didn’t like the start. Ryan Crane brought out the second caution when he nearly ran off the back straightaway and slowed to a stop in turn three.
Finish (top four transfer): Jason Fitzgerald, Brent Dixon, Mark Whitener, Dennis Franklin, Ryan Crane, David Doherty
Donald McIntosh turned back a mid-race challenge from G.R. Smith to win the first heat. Smith, who passed Donald Bradsher on the second lap moved forward to challenge the leader, getting a good run inside down the backstretch. McIntosh beat him off the corner, however, and pulled away to win by .566 of a second. Bradher finished third, while Brian Conner finished fourth. Conner and Craig Vosbergen got together as the field came to the initial green, with Vosbergen’s car slapping the outside wall on the front straightaway.Vosbergen’s wrist was checked out by EMTs and walked back to the pit area. Fourth in points, Vosbergen will need a provision to start the main event.
Finish (top four transfer): Donald McIntosh, G.R. Smith, Donald Bradsher, Brian Conner, Pearson Williams, Craig Vosbergen
Heat race lineups
(eight laps, top four transfer)
Row 1: Donald McIntosh, Donald Bradsher
Row 2: G.R. Smith, Craig Vosbergen
Row 3: Pearson Williams, Brian Conner
Row 1: Brent Dixon, Jason Fitzgerald
Row 2: Mark Whitener, Ryan Crane
Row 3: Dennis Frankin, David Doherty
Row 1: Michael Page, Casey Roberts
Row 2: Shanon Buckingham, Kenny Collins
Row 3: Ivendent Lloyd Jr., Jim Rogers
Row 1: Scott Shirey, Brian Ligon
Row 2: Steve Casebolt, Brandon Carpenter
Row 3: Jason Walker, Farrel Skelton
Ross Bailes of Clover, S.C., was the only driver to clock a sub-14-second lap as he went 13.955 seconds in the Group B to claim the overall fast time. With the top two qualifiers from each group locked into the feature, Bailes will start from the outside front row in the A-main. John Henderson of North Augusta, S.C., was second quickest in Group B at 14.242 seconds and will start the feature from the fourth position. Riley Hickman of Ooltewah, Tenn., and Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., will occupy the inside lane in rows one and two at the start of the main event. Hickman’s lap of 14.239 seconds was the fastest in Group A, earning him the pole for the feature. Overton, who turned a lap of 14.241 seconds is locked in as well and will start third in the feature. Heat race polesitters are Donald McIntosh, Brent Dixon, Michael Page and Scott Shirey.
An afternoon rain shower moved through the area, which helped drop the temperature from a torrid 97 degrees down to more manageable mid-80s. Once the rain subsided, another sticky Georgia afternoon awaited drivers and fans. ... Riley Hickman of Ooltewah, Tenn., followed the tour further south to Swainsboro. Hickman plans to compete at Screven on Saturday, as well as the two series races closer to his home, Rome, Ga., on Sunday and Boyd’s Speedway in Ringgold, Ga., on Monday. … With 28 cars on hand, Friday’s attendance is right at the series average of 29. … Three drivers - Donald Bradsher, Ross Bailes and Dennis Franklin - are back with the series after skipping a couple races. All three competed in the season-opener at Wythe Raceway in Rural Retreat, Va. … With the Southern Nationals nearing its halfway mark, nine drivers still have perfect attendance. Brandon Overton, Donald McIntosh, Craig Vosbergen, Shanon Buckingham, Steve Casebolt, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Kenny Collins, Farrel Skelton and Jason Walker have been at each race. … Among notable drivers not making the three-hour trip from Senoia down to Swainsboro: Shane Clanton, Jake Knowles, Travis Pennington, Austin Horton, Tyler Millwood and Clint Smith. … This is the sixth straight season that Swainsboro has hosted the Ray Cook-promoted Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals. … There have been five different winners in eight series appearances at Swainsboro. … Dennis Franklin won last year’s series race at Swainsboro. … Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., is a three-time Southern Nationals winner at Swainsboro (’09, ’14, ’15).
Time trail results (unofficial)
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Riley Hickman (R1), Ooltewah, Tenn., 14.239
Brandon Overton (116), Evans, Ga., 14.241
Donald McIntosh (7), Dawsonville, Ga., 14.259
Brent Dixon (1), Elkton, Ga., 14.298
Donald Bradshear (93), Burlington, N.C., 14.313
Jason Fitzgerald (7), Middleburg, Fla., 14.338
G.R. Smith. (22*), Statesville, N.C., 14.350
Mark Whitener (2w), Middleburg, Fla., 14.502
Craig Vosbergen (8), Perth, W. Australia, 14.536
Ryan Crane (10), Panama City, Fla., 14.728
Pearson Williams (121), Dublin, Ga., 14.755
Dennis Franklin (2), Gaffney, S.C., 14.760
Brian Conner (77), Martinez, Ga., 15.146
David Doherty (25), Sydney, Australia, 16.093
Ross Bailes (87), Clover, S.C., 13.955
John Henderson (2x), North Augusta, S.C., 14.242
Scott Shirey (10s), Swansea, S.C., 14.323
Michael Page (18x), Douglasville, Ga., 14.323
Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga., 14.331
Brian Ligon (04), Martinez, Ga., 14.586
Shanon Buckingham (50), Morristown, Tenn., 14.661
Steve Casebolt (c9), Richmond, Ind., 14.735
Kenny Collins (1C), Colbert, Ga., 14.932
Brandon Carpenter (44), Augusta, Ga., 14.964
Ivedent Lloyd Jr. (21), Ocala, Fla., 15.263
Jason Walker (83), Culleoka, Tenn., 16.007
Jim Rogers (71K), Statesboro, Ga., 16.648
Farrel Skelton (0F), Mt. Pleasant, Tenn., NT
The fifth round of the Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals rolls into Swainsboro Raceway, a 3/8th-mile red clay oval owned and operated by Paul Purvis. Situated just on the edge of Swainsboro, a town of approximately 7,500, the track is located about 90 miles west of Savannah.
With his runner-up finish at Senoia on Thursday, Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., still has the series points lead, though Thursday’s winner Donald McIntosh of Dawsonville, Ga., was able to cut a few points from the deficit.
The Super Late Model program includes hot laps, time trials, heat races and a 53-lap main event. Entries will be split into two groups for time trials with the top two qualifiers from each group earning first- and second-row starting spots for the main event. Heat races will set the remainder of the lineup.
While Super Late Models will run a complete program on Friday, support divisions will run heats on Friday and their features on Saturday.
6:30 p.m. - Draw closes/driver’s meeting
7 p.m. - Driver’s meeting for local divisions
7:30 p.m. - Hot laps/qualifying
- Crate Late Model hot laps
- Super Late Model hot laps
- 602 Late Model hot laps
- 440 hot laps
- Pure stock hot laps
- Super street hot laps
- Road Warrior hot laps
- Super Late Model time trials (two laps)
- Crate Late Model time trials
- Road Warrior time trials
- Super Late Model last chance heats (10 laps)
- 440 heat races
- 602 Late Model heats
- Super Late Model feature (53 laps)
- Super street heats
- Road Warrior heats
- Pure stock heats