Champion Park Speedway
McCool's problems open door for Merchant
By Bryan WimberleyDirtonDirt.com correspondent
MINDEN, La. (May 23) — Taking command when race-long leader Bub McCool's car faltered, polesitter Kenny Merchant of West Monroe, La., led the last three-quarters of the 40-lapper at Champion Park Speedway for a $2,500 victory Saturday on the O'Reilly Southern United Professional Racing tour. The two-time and reigning series champion notched his first series victory of the season, series-leading 45th of his career and first since Sept. 6 at Houston Raceway Park. | Slideshow
Fourth-starting Jeff Chanler of Minden, La., was five seconds behind for a runner-up finish while eighth-starting Ronny Adams of Greenwood, La., was third for the second straight night in series competition. Kyle Cummings of Minden and Kevin Sitton of Baytown, Texas, who captured Friday's series stop at Paris (Texas) Motor Speedway, rounded out the top five.
McCool, whose holiday weekend started with a blown engine that forced him out of action at the 17th annual O'Reilly Show-Me 100 at West Plains (Mo.) Motor Speedway, started outside the front row and got off to a hot start, entering lapped traffic after just six circuits. But his car's rear end broke in the early stages and Merchant swept past exiting turn four to take command at the quarter-mile oval in northwest Louisiana.
Notes: Merchant is sponsored by J.D. Caver and Bayou Fabricators. ... Merchant survived a tight spot in the night's heat racing when he had to swerve on the backstretch to avoid a stalled Neil Baggett of Shannon, Miss; he suffered right-front suspension damage but limped home to capture a heat race victory. ... Eight cars finished on the lead lap in the main event. ... Two cautions slowed the action. On the first lap, former series champ David Ashley of Zachary, La., and Scott Creel of Franklinton, La., tangled in turn two; a lap-23 caution appeared for debris. ... Local favorite Allen Tippen of Minden, who won March 21 at Champion Park, was 16th. ... Provisional starter Rob Litton of Alexandria, La., was the race's hard charger with a 22nd-to-10th run, although he finished a lap down. ... Litton, a former series champion, was forced to take the provisional after being involved in a three-car tangle in turn four during the third heat race. Litton had to make repairs on his car after the altercation with Tom Earl III and Tippen. ... Howard Willis of Dayton, Texas, another driver who started the weekend at the Show-Me 100, won the third heat race and finished 11th in the main event. ... Among drivers failing to make the feature lineup: Jody Prince, Neil Baggett, Kennith Crowe, Brock Williams, Trey Beene and Michael Santangelo. ... Rain and dreary afternoon skies plagued the area, but track and series officials plugged away to get the event going. The track drew 110 cars for all divisions. ... SUPR competitors wrap up the three-race Memorial Day weekend with their first visit to Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas, since 2004.
O'Reilly SUPR @ Champion Park: (1) Kenny Merchant, (2) Jeff Chanler, (3) Ronny Adams, (4) Kyle Cummings, (5) Kevin Sitton, (6) Lee Davis, (7) Chris Brown, (8) Chris Holley, (9) Gary Scott Christian, (10) Rob Litton, (11) Howard Willis, (12) Tom Earl III, (13) Waylon Morris, (14) David Ashley, (15) Josh Danzy, (16) Allen Tippen, (17) Scott Creel, (18) Mickey Trosclair, (19) Robbie Stuart, (20) Bub McCool, (21) Eric Neal, (22) Jeff Gandy. Heat race winners (among 31 cars): Trosclair, Merchant, Willis, McCool. Consolation winners: Danzy, Stuart. Provisional starters: Neal, Litton.
Corrections: Updates with new finishing order, moving Chris Brown from 13th to seventh.