SENOIA, Ga. (Nov. 12) — Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., saw his hopes for victory flash before his eyes twice in the finals circuits of Saturday’s 60-lap Showdown at Senoia at Senoia Raceway.
On both occasions, however, Clanton survived the scare, allowing him to score a $10,000 triumph in the Southern Nationals Bonus Series-sanctioned event in his backyard.
Clanton, 41, led every lap of the feature after starting on the outside pole in a Capital Race Car owned by his father-in-law Ron Davies of Warren, Pa., but he nearly relinquished control when Michael Page of Douglasville, Ga., drew alongside the pacesetter on the inside (lap 50) and the outside (lap 52) with the race winding down.
With Senoia’s track surface developing a dominant inside groove during the A-main’s second half, Clanton knew he was fortunate to hang on to defeat Page by 1.275 seconds.
Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., started sixth and finished third in the Chip Stone-owned Dream Racing No. 116, 11th-starter Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., placed fourth and polesitter Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., completed the top five driving Tod Darda’s Longhorn No. 91.
“It’s locked down, one groove, around the bottom,” Clanton said in victory lane. “That’s just characteristic of a three-day (schedule) racetrack here. The (track-prep) guys do a phenomenal job here … I just had to do what I had to do to protect the lead there.”
Clanton’s first close call came on lap 50 when he slipped high in turn two while attempting to lap a slower car, opening the door for Page to drive his Black Diamond Race Car underneath the leader. Though Clanton slid sideways, he managed to stay ahead of Page.
Moments later, on lap 52, Clanton’s momentum was dulled in turn two by a lapped car as Page made an outside bid. Page was actually able to pull ahead Clanton entering turn three, but the slower vehicle drifted toward the top of the track between turns and four, giving Clanton the break he needed to stay in front of Page and Overton, who had pulled right up on Clanton’s rear bumper on that frenetic circuit, and drive away to the checkered flag.
“Michael, I seen his nose underneath me and I felt him, and I said, ‘I just need to get by the lapped car,’” Clanton said. “Then (the slower car) almost spun out in (turns) one and two again and I heard Michael on he outside. Luckily (the lapped machine) went to the top then.”
Page, a former champion at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Ga., who turned heads nationally this year with a 27th-to-eighth World 100 run in his first-ever visit to Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, ran out of real estate when he attempted to take advantage of Clanton’s forfeiture of the prime inside lane on lap 50.
“I put my nose up under him and he knew I was there,” said Page, who started 10th. “He did what he was supposed to do, but I was about to be in the infield there.”
Page was pleased to secure a runner-up finish, but his emotions were tempered by a mid-race restart scrape with Riley Hickman of Ooltewah, Tenn., who spun between turns one and two when Page made contact bidding for second place.
“I hate it for Riley,” Page said. “I kind of pinched him off getting into one and spun him. I really hate that. I don’t like racing that way.
“It was fun racing with these guys (though),” he added. “We had a really good car. We’d been pretty crappy with it all week and we just kind of threw it to the fence and it was really, really good.”
Clanton, meanwhile, wore a big smile after emerging victorious at a track that sits about 20 miles northwest of his residence.
“It’s pretty special to win at home and end the year on a good note,” Clanton said. “We’ll come into next year on fire I guess.”
Three caution flags slowed the feature, including one on the initial start that saw fifth-starter Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., spin between turns one and two. Event rules allowed Bloomquist to restart in his original spot, but he was unable to make headway during the race and finished sixth.
Other caution flags were needed midway through the feature for Donald McIntosh of Dawsonville, Ga., whose car rolled to a stop in turn two, and David Payne of Murphy, N.C., who twirled while being lapped by Overton.
Notes: Clanton registered his second career Southern Nationals Bonus Series victory. His previous win also came at Senoia, on July 4, 2015. … Clanton’s triumph was his 10th overall of 2016 and first since Aug. 2, when he captured his seventh World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series win of the season. It was his third victory of ’16 at Senoia. … While Hickman settled for a disappointing ninth-place finish after the incident with Page sent him spinning out of second place, he won the evening’s Crate Late Model feature. … Page was a busy driver during the weekend, competing in 115 laps of feature action over three divisions. He won the $2,500 Limited Late Model feature and finished second in the B Cadet headliner won by Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., who earned his 28th Senoia win of 2016 spread across four divisions. … Smith entered four classes during the Showdown at Senoia but only started two features. Problems prevented him from taking the green flag in the Super and Limited Late Model headliners; he finished second in the Crate Late Model event. … The Showdown at Senoia culminated Senoia’s second season of operation under the promotional team of Bill Massey, Mayes Massey and Doug Stevens. The trio is already working on plans and schedules for next year and anticipate a season-opening event in March. … Southern Nationals Bonus Series action continues next weekend with another $10,000-to-win, two-day event at Boyd’s Speedway in Ringold, Ga.
Saturday's feature lineup
Row 1: Jimmy Owens, Shane Clanton
Row 2: Jason Croft, Riley Hickman
Row 3: Scott Bloomquist, Brandon Overton
Row 4: David Breazeale, Joe Armistead Jr.
Row 5: Donald McIntosh, Michael Page
Row 6: Chase Junghans, T.J. Reaid
Row 7: Frank Ingram, Mason Massey
Row 8: Ray Cook, Glenn Morris
Row 9: Derek Ellis, Zach Leonhardi
Row 10: Austin Horton, Ryan King
Row 11: David Payne, Doug Smith
Row 12: Clint Smith
Saturday’s consolation lineups
(10 laps; two transfer)
Row 1: Austin Horton, Derek Ellis
Row 2: Austin Smith (11), Ashton Winger
Row 3: Clint Smith, Joey Armistead
Row 4: David Payne, Austin Smith (84)
Row 5: Harrison Hall
Row 1: Ryan King, Laddie Fulcher
Row 2: Zack Leonhardi, Hunter Peacock
Row 3: Billy Franklin, Shane Fulcher
Row 4: Doug Smith, Austin Arnold
Row 5: Tyler Millwood
Friday's heat results
First heat: Jimmy Owens, Scott Bloomquist, Frank Ingram, Austin Horton, Austin Smith, Clint Smith, David Payne, Harrison, Hall.
Second heat: Jason Croft, David Breazeale, Chase Junghans, Ray Cook, Derek Ellis, Ashton Winger, Joey Armistead, Austin Smith, Michael Page.
Third heat: Shane Clanton, Brandon Overton, Michael Page, Mason Massey, Ryan King, Billy Franklin, Doug Smith.
Fourth heat: Riley Hickman, Joe Armistead Jr., T.J. Reaid, Glenn Morris, Laddie Fulcher, Hunter Peacock, Shane Fulcher, Austin Arnold.
Friday’s time trials
1. Jimmy Owens (91), Newport, Tenn., 15.864
2. David Breazeale (18), Four Corners, Miss., 15.922
3. Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.933
4. Jason Croft (9), Woodstock, Ga., 15.957
5. Ray Cook (53), Brasstown, N.C., 15.992
6. Frank Ingram (F9), Acworth, Ga., 16.008
7. Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 16.017
8. Austin Horton (16), Whitesburg, Ga., 16.082
9. Austin Smith (84), Rome, Ga., 16.113
10. David Payne (8), Murphy, N.C. 16.149
11. Derek Ellis (99), Chatsworth, Ga., 16.317
12. Clint Smith (44), Senoia, Ga., 16.531
13. Joey Armistead (21III), 16.585
14. Harrison Hall (99), Circlesville, Ohio, 16.578
15. Ashton Winger (12), Fayetteville, Ga., 16.620
1. Brandon Overton (116), Evans, Ga., 15.875
2. Riley Hickman (R1), Ooltewah, Tenn., 15.928
3. Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 15.995
4. Joe Armistead Jr. (21), Sharpsburg, Ga., 16.043
5. Laddie Fulcher (29), Thomaston, Ga., 16.177
6. Mason Massey (15) Douglasville, Ga., 16.132
7. Michael Page (18x), Douglasville, Ga., 16.183
8. T.J. Reaid (41), Acworth, Ga., 16.234
9. Tyler Millwood (31), Kingston, Ga., 16.239
10. Hunter Peacock, Macon, Ga., 16.256
11. Zach Leonhardi (24), Cartersville, Ga., 16.311
12. Glenn Morris (27), Fayetteville, Ga., 16.2422
13. Billy Franklin (17), Calera, Ala., 16.436
14. Shane Fulcher (9F), Thomaston, Ga., 16.456
15. Ryan King (1G), Seymour, Tenn., 16.686
16. Austin Arnold (A8), Hattiesburg, Miss., 17.023
17. Doug Smith (45), Harriman, Tenn., 17.144