Roberts rallies back, gets $5,300 at Swainsboro
SWAINSBORO, Ga. (July 17) — Regaining the last with 14 laps remaining after dropping to third, polesitter Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., earned $5,300 at Swainsboro Speedway for his second consecutive victory on the O'Reilly Southern Nationals. | Slideshow
Roberts led the first 19 laps before losing the lead to Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., then fell to third and watched Ivedent Lloyd Jr. of Ocala, Fla., take command on the 33rd lap. But finding new life in a higher groove, Roberts fought his way back to the front for the 53-lap victory at the 3/8-mile oval.
"That must have been a good race for the fans," Roberts said. "When (Tommy) Kerr was almost a lap down and went by me on the outside and I saw the top groove working, it kinda surprised me. I knew then I was gonna have to get something done and not look so stupid after dropping from first to third. It was pretty exciting there for a while. We went up there and got it done, and I'm tickled to death with the car. It ran really well up there."
Davenport, who started third and led laps 20-32, settled for a second-place finish while consolation race winner Dennis Franklin of Gaffney, S.C., rallied from 11th to finish third. Tony Knowles of Tyrone, Ga., was fourth for his second straight top-five finish on the series and 11th-starting Jeff Cooke of Spartanburg, S.C., took the series points lead with his fifth-place finish.
Lloyd, who wore out his right-rear tire, faded to a sixth-place finish after starting outside the front row and leading laps 33-39.
"I didn't have enough forward drive in the car early in the race and it killed my right-rear tire," Lloyd said. "I think I lost three spots in the last two laps. That's what happens when you stay around the house and don't race as often as I have been."
The action was tight just past the midpoint with Lloyd squeezing up and under Davenport exiting turn two to take command just before a lap-33 caution. Roberts stayed right in the mix running a bit higher, then went back to a lower groove to overtake Lloyd exiting turn four on the 40th lap.
Three cautions slowed the action, the first for Michael Akeson's flip on the frontstretch on the second lap; he wasn't injured. Another yellow appeared shortly after the first restart and Shawn Beasley slowed in turn four to draw the lap-33 yellow.
Notes: Roberts drives a Victory Circle Chassis by Moyer with sponsorship from Starrette Trucking, Cushman Paint & Body and PPM. ... Roberts finished 23rd in last year's series event at Swainsboro, a race won by series champion Chris Madden. ... Roberts has three career series victories, putting him fourth all-time behind Chris Madden (11 victories), Dennis Franklin (4), and Jimmy Owens (4). ... Jeff Cooke of Spartanburg, S.C., leads a tight points chase with just eight points separating the top four drivers. ... Ten drivers have entered all four series events. ... The average car count is 31, up nearly four cars from the 2008 tour after four events. ... Among drivers failing to make the Swainsboro feature: Scott Shirey, Dan Breuer, Steven Segars and the fourth-place finisher at Hartwell, Royce Bray of Hull, Ga. ... Next up for the Southern Nationals is a $5,300-to-win event Saturday at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga.
O'Reilly Southern Nationals @ Swainsboro: (1) Casey Roberts, (2) Jonathan Davenport, (3) Dennis Franklin, (4) Tony Knowles, (5) Jeff Cooke, (6) Ivedent Lloyd Jr., (7) Benji Cole, (8) Jordy Nipper, (9) Tommy Kerr, (10) Brent Dixon, (11) Randle Chupp, (12) Shon Flanary, (13) Jeremy Faircloth, (14) Daniel Baggerly, (15) Shawn Beasley, (16) Dane Dacus, (17) Ed Basey, (18) Dean Bowen, (19) Gar Dickson, (20) Casey Barrow, (21) Ben Faircloth, (22) Chesley Dixon, (23) Henry Carter, (24) Michael Akeson. Fast qualifier (among 32 cars): Roberts, 14.555 seconds. Consolation race winners: Franklin, Chupp. Provisional starters: Dacus, Baggerly.