Turner stops Thomas streak at Penton
By Roby HelmNeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series
PENTON, Ala. (July 6) — Series points leader Matthew Turner of Dawsonville, Ga., survived an eventful, rain-shortened NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Salute To America 40 on Friday night at Penton Raceway for his first victory of the season.
Turner overcame a crash with a lapped car and then outran William Thomas of Phenix City, Ala., for his third career series victory in a race shortened to 30 laps by rain. He pocketed $2,000.
Turner was trying to lap Cody Kierre of Beebe, Ark., on lap 17, when Kierre spun in turn two and collected the top four cars. Turner was able to restart on the point for the restart, and held off Thomas to the checkered flag that came out when rain moistened the 3/8-mile clay oval to an unsafe condition on lap 30, 10 laps shy of the scheduled distance. Thomas, who won Wednesday at East Alabama Motor Speedway and Thursday at Penton, had his two-race win streak that came to an end with a second-place finish.
“I knew William Thomas was right there with me, and I was praying to God that we could hang on to the checkered flag because it was getting really slick out there,” Turner said. “We were lucky to survive the tangle with lapped car. I tried to get around him on the outside, but he slid up in front of me, so I went to the inside in turn two. He got sideways, came across the nose of my car, and we all piled up.”
Larry Harrod of Plains, Ga., was third followed by Phenix City drivers Dana Eiland and Terrance Nowell. Mavrick Varnadore of Dover, Fla., started 16th and finished eighth to earn the Hedman Husler of the Race Award.
The series wraps up the four-race Salute to America Nationals on Saturday with a $2,5000-to-win event at Albany (Ga.) Motor Speedway.
Salute To America 40: (1) Matthew Turner, (2) William Thomas, (3) Larry Harrod, (4) Dana Eiland, (5) Terrance Nowell, (6) Tod Darda, (7) Chase Edge, (8) Mavrick Varnadore, (9) Bret Holmes, (10) Cody Smith, (11) Justin Summers, (12) Chris Cantrell, (13) Taylor Mitcham, (14) Thomas Lewis, (15) Mark Rosner, (16) Cord Dodgen, (17) Michael Blount, (18) David Gentry, (19) Cody Kierre, (20) Mitch Thornton, (21) Frank Wilson, (22) Brand Lewis. Fast qualifier (among 22 cars): Turner, 14.816 seconds.