Cooley outduels Turner for first NeSmith victory
By Roby HelmNeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series
COLUMBUS, Miss. (Sept. 5) — Series points leader Eric Cooley of Fulton, Miss., took another step towards the 2009 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series title Saturday by capturing his first career series victory at Columbus Speedway.
The polesitting Cooley picked up the exciting battle from Friday at Greenville Speedway with 10th-starting Matthew Turner of Dawsonville, Ga., as they battled side-by-side for the lead in the closing laps. Cooley reversed the finishing positions from the night before for a $2,500 payday.
“We’ve never really been that good here in (series) events, and I would have been happy with the top-five finish,” Cooley said. “It feels good to get my first win this close to home. We’re on a roll now with two poles, a second and a win, and I hope we can just keep it going and get the championship.”
Mike Boland of Cuba, Ala., was third followed by rookie Ben McCreary of Baldwyn, Miss., and Todd Morrow of East Ridge, Tenn. Jim McDuffie of Meridian, Miss., started fourth and briefly took the lead on the second lap, but he settled for sixth.
Cooley officially led all but one lap but had his hands full with Turner, who won his first career event on the series a night earlier. Turner advanced steadily from his fifth-row starting spot and got in the mix by taking second from Boland with eight laps remaining in the 50-lapper.
When Cooley's momentum was slowed by lapped traffic on lap 44, Turner edged ahead. But Cooley got a good run on the outside on lap 45 to reclaim the top spot, in the process building a cushion of two lapped cars on Turner to help him pull away over the final five laps.
Cooley now holds a 106-point advantage over Larry Boutwell in the NeSmith Chevrolet points chase. Turner’s second-place finish moved him up to the third spot in the point standings, 78 points behind Boutwell.
Notes: Cooley's Billy Moyer-built Victory Circle Chassis is sponsored by Cooley Transport and 78 Towing and Recovery. ... Thirteen drivers completed 50 laps. ... Larry Boutwell of Baker, Fla., earned GM Performance Parts Hard Charger honors with his 19th-to-seventh run. ... Series competitors head across town Sunday for the final event of the Mississippi Labor Day Triple Crown at Magnolia Motor Speedway for a $2,000-to-win feature.
BT Customs 50: (1) Eric Cooley, (2) Matthew Turner, (3) Mike Boland, (4) Ben McCreary, (5) Todd Morrow, (6) Jim McDuffie, (7) Larry Boutwell, (8) Justin McRee, (9) Chase Washington, (10) Jason Sanderford, (11) Jeff Fields, (12) Klint Byars, (13) Blake Koenigsberger, (14) Eddie Rickman, (15) Marcus Minga, (16) Shawn Edwards, (17) Kelly Lovorn, (18) Chris McElhenney, (19) Charlie Henderson, (20) Lucky Keeton, (21) Ronny Lee Hollingsworth, (22) Derrick Rainey, (23) Jeremy Hines, (24) Kevin Henderson. Fast qualifier (among 31 cars): Cooley, 14.443 seconds. Heat race winners: Hollingsworth, Morrow, Boland. Consolation winner: Washington.