Pike County Speedway
Merchant dominates SUPR at Pike County
By Bryan WimberleyDirtonDirt.com correspondent
MAGNOLIA, Miss. (June 27) — Back in the groove after a winless weekend in Arkansas, reigning series champion Kenny Merchant of West Monroe, La., got back on the winning track at Pike County Speedway. Merchant earned $2,500 for his fourth victory in the last seven O'Reilly Southern United Professional Racing tour events.
Merchant, who started outside the front row, battled with polesitter Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss., early before driving away for a dominating victory, crossing the finish line eight seconds ahead of McCool in the 40-lapper.
Merchant and McCool broke away from the pack early and entered lapped traffic after eight laps. But by the halfway point, McCool couldn't keep pace with Merchant through lapped traffic as he marched away to his series-leading 48th career SUPR victory.
McCool was second followed by David Ashley of Zachary, La. Kevin Sitton's fourth-place finish boosted him into the SUPR points lead over Allen Tippen of Minden, La., who retired early and finished 19th.
Chris Wall of Holden, La., who edged Merchant by half-car length April 25 in the last SUPR event at Pike County, was the biggest mover of the evening as he rallied from his 17th starting spot to finish eighth. Only nine cars finished on the lead lap.
The race was slowed only by a lap-21 caution for a spin by teenager Alex Ashley of Zachary, La., in turn two.
Notes: Merchant's Trak-Star Chassis has a Wall 2 Wall engine and sponsorship from J.D. Caver & Co., Bayou Fabricators, J&J Motorsports and Cypress Bend Apartments. ... His last SUPR victory at Pike County was in February 2004. ... The feature lasted just 18 minutes with the checkered flag falling at 11:24 p.m. ... A six-car pileup on the frontstretch marred the second heat. with Rob Litton, Allen Tippen, Chris Wall, Scott Creel, Mickey Trosclair and Billy McDonald involved. Wall was among drivers retiring to the pits while Litton went on to win the heat. ... A Donald Watson-Eric Neal tangle in the third heat sent Neal's car briefly airborne on the high side in turn three; both drivers were done for the night. ... The only female to win a SUPR feature, Elizabeth Halpin Smith of French Settlement, La., finished two laps down in 13th in the main event. ... Michael Barfield of Holden, La., started the feature as an alternate when Kennith Crowe of Port Allen, La., didn't make it to the grid. Barfield retired early in 18th. ... Tony Lawson of Laurel, Miss., won the night's NeSmith Chevrolet-sanctioned Crate Late Model feature. ... The track had 95 total race cars in seven divisions. ... Drivers failing to make the SUPR feature included Kennith Crowe, Donald Watson, Eric Neal, William Fletcher and Hank Schlindwein. ... Next up for SUPR is July 3-4 action at Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas, and Champion Park Speedway in Haughton, La.
SUPR @ Pike County: (1) Kenny Merchant, (2) Bub McCool, (3) David Ashley, (4) Kevin Sitton, (5) Rob Litton, (6) Ray Moore, (7) Robbie Stuart, (8) Chris Wall, (9) Marlon Wild, (10) Keith Miller, (11) Scott Creel, (12) Mickey Trosclair, (13) Elizabeth Halpin Smith, (14) Billy McDonald, (15) Alex Ashley, (16) Curt Lipsey, (17) Kevin Watts, (18) Michael Barfield, (19) Allen Tippen, (20) David Burkhalter. Heat race winners (among 25 cars): McCool, Litton, Merchant. Consolation winner: Wall.