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Daily Dirt 09/26/2022 16:49:17

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July 14
Wythe Raceway,
Rural Retreat, VA
Sanction: Schaeffer's Southern Nationals - $10,000
Information provided by: Alli Collis (last updated July 15, 9:01 am)
Dominating McDowell scores Wythe victory
  1. Dale McDowell
  2. Vic Hill
  3. Eric Wells
  4. Ross Bailes
  5. Casey Roberts
  6. Johnny Pursley
  7. Aaron Ridley
  8. Donald McIntosh
  9. Dennis Franklin
  10. Walker Arthur
  11. Forrest Trent
  12. Craig Vosbergen
  13. Cla Knight
  14. Jeff Smith
  15. Jonathan Rowan
  16. Justin Williams
  17. Shanon Buckingham
  18. Robby Moses
  19. Carder Miller
  20. Kyle Pierce
  21. Doug Sanders
  22. Peter Nicola
  23. Jeff Neubert
  24. Dwayne Joyce
  25. Brandon Overton
  26. Jason Lawrence
  27. Steve Casebolt
  28. Joey Coulter
  29. Chris Combs
  30. David Crabtree
presented by
Brian McLeod
Dale McDowell celebrates his $10,000 Wythe victory.
What won the race: Dominating the entire 53-lap distance, polesitter Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., earned a $10,000 payday in the Schaeffer's Southern Nationals Series opener at Wythe Raceway.
On the move: Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., started 14th and finished fifth.
Winner's sponsors: McDowell’s Sweet-Bloomquist Race Car is powered by a Clements Racing Engine and sponsored by Textron Off Road, New Era Industrial, Boyd’s Speedway, Will Kinzer Foundation, Cometic Gasket and Klotz Lubricants.
Points chase: The 2018 points chase kicked off on Saturday night.
Car count: 31
Fast qualifier: Donald McIntosh
Time: 16.531 seconds
Polesitter: Dale McDowell
Heat race winners: Dale McDowell, Shanon Buckingham, Brandon Overton, Vic Hill
Next series race: July 16, Volunteer Speedway (Bulls Gap, TN) $3,500
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
By Alli Collis
DirtonDirt.com staff writer

RURAL RETREAT, Va. (July 14) — Dominant. There’s no better word to describe Dale McDowell’s performance in Saturday’s Schaeffer’s Southern Nationals Series opener at Wythe Raceway.

Charging to the front of the field at the drop of the green flag, the Chickamauga, Ga., driver led the entire 53-lap distance, stretching his lead over second-place finisher Vic Hill of Mosheim, Tenn., in the final circuits for a $10,000 victory at the high-banked Virginia oval.

“I missed a little bit qualifying but we were still pretty competitive right there,” McDowell said after the race. “In the heat race I was able to get the start. That’s what it’s about. The competition level is so close. You’ve got to capitalize on situations like that. … It was a good night for us.”

While it was McDowell showing the way out front early on, second-starting Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., was able to reel in the race leader as the pair worked their way through lapped traffic. With multiple cautions slowing his charge, Overton retired early on lap 29. From there, it was smooth sailing for McDowell, who was never seriously challenged for the lead.

“Lapped traffic got a little bit sketchy there,” McDowell said. “This place is so fast. You make a little bitty mistake and it turns into something big. So just being careful through that. But it ended up with the good Lord shinning on us tonight. This was our night.”

Fourth-starting Hill finished runner-up, with fifth-starting Eric Wells of Hazard, Ky., running third. Advancing from the 10th starting spot, Ross Bailes of Clover, S.C., finished fourth, with Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., rallying from the 14th starting position to round out the top five.

As a former Southern Nationals winner at Wythe, Hill has had a lot of success at the high-banked half-mile. But he knew he didn’t have anything for McDowell near the end of Saturday’s 53 laps.

“I’d raced with Shanon (Buckingham) for 20-30 laps and I had a little softer tire on than them guys did,” Hill said. “I knew I couldn’t spin and tear it up. I knew it was getting to the end so I raced Shanon pretty hard. … When I got around him I think I kind of used up as good as I could get to make any kind of challenge on Dale. But it’s a good night.”

A podium finish was a solid end to the weekend for Wells, who picked up a $2,000 victory on Friday night at Ponderosa Speedway in Junction City, Ky.

“We was pretty good hot lapping and didn’t tighten up enough early,” Wells said. “We just over-adjusted a little there in the feature. Those first 15 laps I felt pretty good and the longer we ran the tighter I got. But it’s be sever or eight years since we’ve been here and we’ve got good notes for when we come back.”

McDowell’s victory marks only his third-ever on the Southern Nationals tour. Though he’ll top the series points standings heading into Monday’s event at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn., McDowell and brother/crew chief Shane haven’t decided whether or not they’ll follow the miniseries in its entirety this season.

“I asked Shane today what we were going to do,” McDowell said. “I’ve talked about going to I-80 and running some of those races. So I guess he and Jimmy will talk it over and figure out what we’re going to do. They’ve just got to let me know.”

Notes: McDowell scored his third career Southern Nationals victory and sixth win of the 2018 season. … Second-running Brandon Overton retired early on lap 29. … The first yellow flag waved on lap 14 when Joey Coulter spun in turn two. … Fifth-running Steve Casebolt drew a caution on lap 24 when he came to a stop in turn three, retiring to the pits with front-end damage. … A yellow flag flew on lap 43 when Dwayne Joyce slowed in turn two. … After running as high as second, Shanon Buckingham slowed in turn four with a right-rear flat to draw a caution on lap 50. …  With all 31 entries eligible for Saturday’s feature lineup, it marked the largest starting field in series history. … Of the 30 cars starting the feature, 23 took the checkered flag. … Wythe hosted the Southern Nationals opener for the eighth consecutive season.

Preliminary reports:

Feature lineup

Row 1: Dale McDowell, Brandon Overton
Row 2: Shanon Buckingham, Vic Hill
Row 3: Eric Wells, Steve Casebolt
Row 4: Aaron Ridley, Johnny Pursley
Row 5: Donald McIntosh, Ross Bailes
Row 6: Cla Knight, Dennis Franklin
Row 7: Jonathan Rowan, Casey Roberts
Row 8: Forrest Trent, Walker Arthur
Row 9: Joey Coulter, Jeff Smith
Row 10: Carder Miller, Chris Combs
Row 11: Kyle Pierce, Justin Williams
Row 12: Robby Moses, Craig Vosbergen
Row 13: Peter Nicola, Doug Sanders
Row 14: Dwayne Joyce, David Crabtree
Row 15: Jason Lawrence, Jeff Neubert
Row 16: Van Lester

Fourth heat

Rolling around the high side, Vic Hill edged ahead of fellow front-row starter Johnny Pursley to lead the first lap. Pursley attempted to slip back by Hill, only to have his challenge thwarted. Hill won the heat, with Pursley and Dennis Franklin rounding out the podium.

Finish: Vic Hill, Johnny Pursley, Dennis Franklin, Walker Arthur, Chris Combs, Craig Vosberge, David Crabtree.

Third heat

Sliding ahead of fellow front-row starter Ross Bailes, Brandon Overton took an early lead. With Bailes slipping back to third in the early running, the advantage went to Steve Casebolt, who held to second-place spot at the halfway mark. Stretching his lead, Overton won the heat race, with Casebolt finishing second. Bailes outran Casey Roberts to finish third.

Finish: Brandon Overton, Steve Casebolt, Ross Bailes, Casey Roberts, Jeff Smith, Justin Williams, Doug Sanders, Jeff Neubert.

Second heat

Charging around the outside groove, Shanon Buckingham edged ahead of pole sitter Aaron Ridley to take an early lead. With Buckingham holding a comfortable lead, Forrest Trent attempted to reel in Cla Knight for third in the final laps. Buckingham won the heat race, with Ridley finishing second. Knight held off Trent to run third.

Finish: Shanon Buckingham, Aaron Ridley, Cla Knight, Forrest Trent, Carder Miller, Robby Moses, Dwayne Joyce. Scratched: Van Lester

First heat

Outside poleistter Dale McDowell shot to the front of the field at the drop of the green flag, with Eric Wells slipping past polesitter Donald McIntosh for second. As McDowell pulled away early, Wells and McIntosh battled side-by-side for second, with Wells holding the advantage at the halfway mark. Dominating all eight laps, McDowell won the heat, with Wells and McIntosh rounding out the podium.

Finish: Dale McDowell, Eric Wells, Donald McIntosh, Jonathan Rowan, Joey Coulter, Kyle Pierce, Peter Nicola, Jason Lawrence.

Heat race lineups

(eight laps)
First heat
Row 1: Donald McIntosh, Dale McDowell
Row 2: Eric Wells, Joey Coulter
Row 3: Jonathan Rowan, Kyle Pierce
Row 4: Peter Nicola, Jason Lawrence
Second heat
Row 1: Aaron Ridley, Shanon Buckingham
Row 2: Cla Knight, Forrest Trent
Row 3: Robby Moses, Carder Miller
Row 4: Dwayne Joyce, Van Lester
Third heat
Row 1: Brandon Overton, Ross Bailes
Row 2: Casey Roberts, Steve Casebolt
Row 3: Jeff Smith, Justin Williams
Row 4: Doug Sanders, Jeff Neubert
Fourth heat
Row 1: Johnny Pursley, Vic Hill
Row 2: Dennis Franklin, David Crabtree
Row 3: Walker Arthur, Chris Combs
Row 4: Craig Vosbergen

Qualifying

Piloting the Big Frog Motorsports No. 58, former Schaeffer’s Spring Nationals champion Donald McIntosh of Dawsonville, Ga., was Saturday’s overall fast qualifier, tripping the clock with a time of 16.531 seconds. McIntosh will start on the pole of the first of four eight-lap heat races. As the quickest qualifier in his respective time trial group, reigning Southern Nationals champion Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., will start on the pole of the third heat race.

Pre-race setup

The 14th annual Schaeffer’s Southern Nationals Series gets under way on Saturday night with a $10,000-to-win event at Wythe Raceway. The half-mile Virginia oval hosts the miniseries opener for the eighth consecutive season.

Vic Hill of Mosheim, Tenn., was the winner of last year’s Southern Nationals stop at Wythe. Among other recent Wythe winners expected to be on hand Saturday night is Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., who picked up the win back in 2016.

Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., the reigning series champion, has expressed plans to run the entire miniseries in a Billy Franklin-owned entry. Among other drivers that have committed to following the series in 2018 are Shanon Buckingham, Craig Vosbergen and Donald McIntosh.

Saturday’s program will include hot laps, time trials, four heat races and the 53-lap main event. Competitors using all-aluminum engines who have raced at least twice in 2018 and time-trialed within 1.5 seconds of the fifth overall fast qualifier will be eligible to join the feature starting field.

Time trial results

Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Group A
Donald McIntosh (58), Dawsonville, Ga., 16.531
Aaron Ridley (81), Chatsworth, Ga., 16.704
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 16.708
Shanon Buckingham (50), Morristown, Tenn., 16.721
Eric Wells (18), Hazard, Ky., 16.756
Cla Knight (42), North Augusta, S.C., 16.909
Joey Coulter (2), Concord, N.C., 16.922
Jonathan Rowan (56), Jackson, Tenn., 17.040
Robby Moses (21M), Maryville, Tenn., 17.079
Kyle Pierce (281), Statesville, N.C., 17.188
Carder Miller (69*), Salem, Va., 17.659
Peter Nicola (0), Melbourne, Australia, 17.771
Forrest Trent (101), Morristown, Tenn., 17.788
Dwayne Joyce (87J), Walkertown, N.C., 18.032
Jason Lawrence (54), Pilot, Va., 18.550
Van Lester (50), Dandridge, Tenn., 18.768
Group B
Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 16.830
Johnny Pursley (09), Clover, S.C., 16.879
Ross Bailes (79), Clover, S.C., 16.920
Vic Hill (1), Mosheim, Tenn., 17.006
Dennis Franklin (2), Gaffney, S.C., 17.059
Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga., 17.244
Steve Casebolt (C9), Richmond, Ind., 17.251
David Crabtree (C5), Maryville, Tenn., 17.330
Jeff Smith (00), Dallas, N.C., 17.339
Walker Arthur (87), Forest, Va., 17.373
Chris Combs (47), Isom, Ky., 17.445
Justin Williams (89), Concord, Va., 17.447
Doug Sanders (42), McAdenville, N.C., 17.533
Craig Vosbergen (8), Perth, Australia, 17.551
Jeff Neubert (86), Rockford, Tenn., 17.647

Saturday’s schedule

7 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
7:30 p.m.: Hot laps/qualifying
- Ucar hot laps
- Late Model hot laps
- Super street hot laps
- Modified hot laps
- Pro mini hot laps
- Late Model qualifying (two laps)
Racing begins
- Ucar feature (15 laps)
- Late Model heats (eight laps)
- Modified feature (20 laps)
- Late Model feature (53 laps)
- Super street feature (20 laps)
- Pro mini feature (15 laps)

Feature lineup

Row 1: McDowell, Overton
Row 2: Buckingham, Hill
Row 3: Wells, Casebolt
Row 4: Ridley, Pursley
Row 5: McIntosh, Bailes
Row 6: Knight, Franklin
Row 7: Rowan, Roberts
Row 8: Trent, Arthur
Row 9: Coulter, Smith
Row 10: Miller, Combs
Row 11: Pierce, Williams
Row 12: Moses, Vosbergen
Row 13: Nicola, Sanders
Row 14: Joyce, Crabtree
Row 15: Lawrence, Neubert
Row 16: Lester

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