East Alabama Motor Speedway
Thomas dominates NeSmith race at EAMS
By Roby HelmNeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series
PHENIX CITY, Ala. (July 4) — Hometown driver William Thomas swept Wednesday's opening night of the Salute To America Nationals for the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. Thomas drove a rebuilt J.W. Land and Timber Special to his ninth career NeSmith Chevrolet DLMS victory and his second of the season. | Video
Thomas started out the evening with quick time honors among the 31 entrants with a lap around the 3/8-mile high-banked clay oval in 15.264 seconds, and then led all 50 laps of the main event to collect the $2,500 first-place money. Thomas also made himself eligible to collect a $1,000 bonus if he can win all four of the Salute To America Nationals events.
“This is the car I flipped here last year, and we rebuilt it,” Thomas said. “It ran just like a brand new race car.”
Thomas was never challenged for the lead, and the only thing that let the competition catch up with the leader were seven caution flags. Thomas took the checkered flag with a full straightaway advantage over runner-up Matthew Turner of Dawsonville, Ga.
Turner used early double-file restarts to advance from his 11th starting spot up to the second position in earning Hedman Husler of the Race honors and the series points lead.
Turner holds a 16-point lead over two-time series champion David Gentry of Murfreesboro, Tenn., who was challenging for the sixth spot on lap four when he sailed off the high-side of the turn three banking. Gentry was uninjured in the crash, but his car was too damaged to continue and he finished 24th.
Chase Edge of Lafayette, Ala., finished third while Montana Dudley of Phenix City and Joey Thomas of Seale, Ala., rounded out the top five.
The next three Salute To America Nationals events will take place at Penton (Ala.) Raceway Thursday and Friday, and at Albany (Ga.) Motor Speedway on Saturday. Thomas has won NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series events at both tracks.
Salute To America Nationals: (1) William Thomas, (2) Matthew Turner, (3) Chase Edge, (4) Montana Dudley, (5) Joey Thomas, (6) Richie Stephens, (7) Chris Cantrell, (8) Larry Harrod, (9) Thomas Lewis, (10) Cody Smith, (11) Justin Summers, (12) Phillip Cobb, (13) Johnny Stokes, (14) Terrance Nowell, (15) Dana Eiland, (16) Steven Gaines, (17) Kelly Walker, (18) Mitch Thornton, (19) Michael Blount, (20) Cody Kierre, (21) Pat Wall, (22) Brent Barrett, (23) Mavrick Varnadore, (24) David Gentry. Fast qualifier (among 31 cars): Thomas, 15.264 seconds. Consolation race winners: Turner, Smith. Provisional starters: Blount, Kierre.