South Buxton Raceway
Faltering foe helps Jones win South Buxton finale
By Mike BennettSouth Buxton Raceway
Jim Jones borrowed a page out of a children’s story to write his own storybook ending on Saturday night at South Buxton Raceway.
The Chatham driver resigned himself to a second-place finish as the laps were winding down in the Lube Tech-Great Canadian Oil Change UMP Late Model season finale. But as leader Dale Glassford exited turn four to take the two-to-go signal from flagman Jim Van Dyk, his car slowed dramatically and came to a stop at the start-finish line.
“When I seen him slow up, I’m thinking, ‘this can’t be?’ ” Jones said about taking the lead from Glassford. “I thought, 'OK here’s my chance, come on little engine, let’s go.’ ”
Jones held off Chatham’s Kirk Hooker on the green-white-checkered finish to win in dramatic fashion.
“When they said ‘green-white-checkered,’ I had to settle down, keep it to the mat, make the car was wide as possible and don’t let anyone get by,” Jones said.
Hooker got a run on the inside coming out of turn two on the final lap but Jones closed the door going through the final turns.
“Jimmy had a good car tonight, I want to congratulate him, he really deserved it,” said Hooker, who ran behind Jones from lap four.
Jones’ win was one of the most popular in years, as the good-sized crowd saluted the new champion with a standing ovation as he emerged from his car in victory lane.
“It’s been a couple years since I’ve won (a feature), and what better time than on championship night,” said Jones, whose last feature win came on June 19, 2010.
His fellow Late Model drivers were ecstatic in Jones’ victory.
“I’m so happy for Jim, he’s tried so long for this … I think I’m more happy for him than I am for myself,” said Chatham’s Gregg Haskell, who was celebrating his own back-to-back Late Model points championship.
“That was big for Jimmy and a very popular win ... he deserves it,” said Glassford, whose car lost a fuel pump belt late in the race.
The 53-year-old Jones, who started racing as a 15-year-old in 1976 when South Buxton was still known as Raleigh Raceway, swept the Late Model points title and championship race in 2004 and also won the Great Lakes Late Model series 50-lap championship race.
“I’m not going to say it’s better than 2004, it’s pretty hard to top winning the points, the championship race and the 50-lapper,” Jones said. “But to do what I did with that little guy (engine) in there, to more or less be the underdog and do this ... it’s awesome!”
Jones does not have the same power as many of his Late Model competitors, which made his victory even sweeter.
“It’s a little 358, still the original Chevy four-bolt main block ... nothing special,” he explained. “Well it’s special, but not compared to what she’s running against. I’ve been close, I’ve had a few seconds this year … I guess I was due.”
Charing Cross’s Chris Ross, Chatham’s Erick Walker and Blenheim’s Reid Gill rounded out the top five.
Haskell, who wrapped up his second straight Late Model points championship two weeks ago, had motor issues before the race night. He was scheduled to start on the pole but dropped to the back of the field for the green flag and went to the pits, finishing 13th.