Merchant edges Moore, captures Spooky 50
By Bryan WimberleyDirtonDirt.com correspondent
CHATHAM, La. (Oct. 30) — Kenny Merchant of West Monroe, La., outdueled Ray Moore of Haughton, La., in a late-race, lead-swapping duel to capture Saturday's ninth annual Spooky 50 at Jones Motor Speedway. The 13th-starting Merchant earned $2,500 for his series-leading 57th O'Reilly Auto Parts Southern United Professional Racing victory in the tour's first visit to the quarter-mile speedway in more than three years. | SUPR notebook | Slideshow
The sixth-starting Moore, who earned $5,000 for an unsanctioned victory at Chatham two weeks earlier, settled for second. Eighth-starting Kyle Cummings of Sibley, La., gained ground in the points chase heading into the final race with his third-place effort. Modified standout Morgan Bagley of Longview, Texas, cemented one of his best Late Model finishes in his young career in fourth while Jeff Chanler of Minden, La., rounded out the top five.
Polesitter Heath Culp of McKinney, Texas, lead the first lap over fellow front-row starter Clay Fisher of DeWitt, Ark., with Allen Tippen, Bagley and Moore trailing. Fisher took the lead while Moore quickly gained a spot on Bagley for fourth on the next lap. The second-running Culp spun in turn two on lap three to bring out the race's first yellow.
On the restart, Moore wasted no time charging into second and quickly pressured Fisher for the point. Fisher lost the lead when he spun, but it didn't cause a caution as Moore took command.
Moore raced to three-car advantage over a charging Cummings by lap six, and the leader began negotiating lapped traffic three laps later. The third-running Chanler got pushed to the infield on lap 13, but didn't lose too much ground.
Cummings slipped under Moore to lead lap 16, but Moore went back ahead four laps later as Merchant began tracking the lead duo after getting around Bagley and Tippen on lap 18. Rob Litton's spin just before halfway bunched the field for the second yellow.
A three-car breakaway ensued with Moore, Cummings and Merchant as Bagley was a distant fourth. Cummings held off Merchant's onslaught for second for 18 laps, but Merchant took the spot on lap 32. Merchant then used the high side to reel in Moore and take his first shot at the race lead, falling half-length short on lap 34.
Merchant nosed into the lead on the next lap, but Moore answered to go back ahead three laps later. The duo raced side by side amid traffic with Merchant coming out on top in front of the frenzied crowd on a chilly, Halloween eve.
Notes: Merchant's Trak-Star Race Car is powered by Wall 2 Wall Performance Engines and sponsored by J.D. Caver & Company, J&J Motorsports, Cypress Bend Apartments, Bayou Fabricators, Henry's Auto Salvage and X-Treme Graphics. ... Merchant also won last year's Spooky 50, then an unsanctioned event. ... The checkered flag flew on the 36-minute feature at 1:10 a.m. ... Nine cars finished on the lead lap in a race slowed by three cautions. ... David Ashley of Zachary, La. made a 19th-to-seventh charge. ... Drivers failing to make the feature lineup: Troy Berdan, Jim Bryant, Wesley Chanler, Timothy Culp, Bobby Litton, Wayman McMillan, Charles Nash, Skip O'Neal, Chad Patterson, Butch Patton, Kevin Ray, Keith Strother, Robbie Stuart and Raymond Taylor. ... SUPR points leader, Rob Litton, exited his heat race after his second spinout, landing him in the rear of a consolation race. He took a provisional starting spot for the feature, finishing 12th. ... Robbie Stuart of DeRidder, La., broke a power steering coupler and missed the call for his consolation race, in making repairs. ... Jones Motor Speedway drew more than 150 race cars for a five-division program. ... The SUPR championship chase concludes on Nov. 12-13 at Pike County Speedway's Jambalaya 100 with a double-points race at the Magnolia, Miss., oval. Litton holds a 96-point edge on Kyle Cummings. ... Alex Ashley of Zachary, La., holds a slim lead on Josh Danzy of Heflin, La., for the SUPR Rookie of the Year.
Spooky 50: (1) Kenny Merchant, (2) Ray Moore, (3) Kyle Cummings, (4) Morgan Bagley, (5) Jeff Chanler, (6) Ronny Adams, (7) David Ashley, (8) Bubba Mullins, (9) Eric Turner, (10) Allen Tippen, (11) B.J. Robinson, (12) Rob Litton, (13) Jon Mitchell, (14) Clay Fisher, (15) Heath Culp, (16) Gary Christian, (17) Alex Ashley, (18) Nicholas Brown, (19) Donald Watson, (20) Josh Danzy, (21) Mark Andrews, (22) Doug Begnaud. Heat race winners (among 36 cars): Bagley, Moore, J. Chanler, Culp. Consolation winners: Mitchell, Turner. Provisional starters: Litton, Danzy.