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South Mississippi Speedway

Blount upsets South Mississippi field in opener

October 17, 2009, 5:46 am
By Roby Helm
NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series
Michael Blount notched his biggest Crate Late Model victory. (Left Turn Photos)
Michael Blount notched his biggest Crate Late Model victory. (Left Turn Photos)

PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (Oct. 16) — Starting outside the front row, surprising Michael Blount of Sumrall, MIss., led all 40 laps of the Topless Fall Nationals 40 at South Mississippi Speedway on Friday for a $2,000 victory on the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Tour.

“I’ve won some big modified races, but this is the biggest Late Model win of my career,” Blount said. “This is a new Trak-Star chassis for us that we’ve only raced five times, and I’ve got to thank Mike Boland at Boland Performance for helping us out. The drivers in the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series are top notch, and it feels good to win at this level.”

In four previous series events this season, Blount’s best finish was 13th. With the exception of restarts after the four caution flags in the race, Blount was able to maintain a half straightaway lead over runner-up Ben McCreary of Baldwyn, Miss. McCreary's runner-up all but clinched the $5,000 Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Year honors; all he has to do is start Saturday night’s race.

Ricky Idom of Hattiesburg, Miss., was third followed by Derrick Rainey of Powder Springs, Ga. Series points leader Eric Cooley of Fulton, Miss., virtually clinched the $20,000 championship. He'll officially claim the title by starting Saturday night's race.

Blount outran McCreadry exiting turn two on the first lap, and he knew that would be key to the race.

“I was watching the heat races and saw that the car that started on the outside of the front row could take the lead at the start of the race,” Blount said. “I tried to keep Ben from moving up on me at the start. He raced me clean, I held my line, and that’s what it took to take the lead.”

The race was slowed by four cautions flags and one red flag, the most serious for Mike Boland's spin on the backstretch that put his car up on its left side. He wasn't injured.

Notes: Blount's Trak-Star Chassis is sponsored by Lamar Auto Salvage. ... Fifteen of 24 starters completed 40 laps ... Cliff Williams earned GM Performance Hard Charger honors for his 16th-to-eighth run. ... The race lasted a half-hour. ... Saturday's main event pays $2,500 to the winner.

Topless Fall Nationals 40: (1) Michael Blount, (2) Ben McCreary, (3) Ricky Idom, (4) Derrick Rainey, (5) Eric Cooley, (6) Ronnie Johnson, (7) Joseph Joiner, (8) Cliff Williams, (9) Larry Boutwell, (10) Matthew Turner, (11) Noah Daspit, (12) Justin McRee, (13) Chase Edge, (14) Michael Santangelo, (15) Shannon Lee, (16) Chris O'Connor, (17) Marcus Minga, (18) Jason Sanderford, (19) Rodney Barber, (20) Chase Washington, (21) Jeremy Idom, (22) Charlie Henderson, (23) Jamey Smith, (24) Mike Boland. Fast qualifier (among 28 cars): McCreary, 15.918 seconds. Consolation race winners: R. Idom, Joiner. Last-chance winner: Boutwell.

NeSmith Chevrolet Series standings

(Through Oct. 16)
1. Eric Cooley – 1,868
2. Larry Boutwell – 1,774
3. Matthew Turner – 1,716
4. Derrick Rainey – 1,682
5. Ben McCreary – 1,556
6. Chase Washington – 1,486
7. David Gentry – 1,272
8. Marcus Minga – 1,182
9. Jay Blair – 774
10. Jason Wilson – 742
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