Waycross, Ga. (8-8-09) The fast oil based Waycross Motor Speedway would be stop number seven for the United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series. Last year saw the drivers having a hard time hooking up to the almost asphalt surface with almost half the field involved in a first lap incident in turn one.
Although the car count was light the fan turn out was spectacular as one track worker put it, “this is one of the best turn outs we have had all year” proving once again the UDLMCS is still one of the biggest draws in southern dirt racing.
The first car to roll out for qualifying was fastest as “the Locomotive” Johnny Collins blistered the slick surface with a 16.65 second run around the ½ mile oval at just over 105 mph. Collins who was the 2008 Champion for the UDLMCS was the fast qualifier for this event last year had yet to put together a winning run in 2009 and was third in points on this night.
Tyler Ivey would take the second fast time to be locked into the $3,000 to win A-Main with a 16.69 second lap. Ivey would have his problems in the feature though and end up fourteen laps down in the twelfth spot.
Two heat races would lock the top two from each heat into final top four starting spots. The first heat saw Dillon Wood take the win followed by Bo Johns. Mark Whitener would come into the race leading the points finished third, Mark Carter fourth and Tom Jones in fifth.
Last years winner Dusty Cone crossed the stripe first in heat number two but his win would be his best showing of the night as he would finish a disappointing sixteenth in the feature after only completing twenty two laps in the fifty lap feature. Second would be Russell Brown Jr. who would draw the number one pill and start from the pole in the A-Main. Jason Fitzgerald, just ten points behind Whitener for the points run, took the third spot, fourth was Mike Carter and fifth Rhett Carter.
Collins blasted from his fifth starting spot by the draw to take the lead and the field went twenty-three green flag laps until the caution came out for Dusty Cone who had slowed on the backstretch.
Waycross has a safety cone in turn four and during the drivers meeting the track officials made it clear that if you dropped below the cone on the restart you would be sent to the rear of the field. That happened on the restart as points leader Whitener went to the inside of it. The yellow immediately came out and the track rule was enforced forcing an unhappy Magic Man to the back of the pack.
Collins would hold onto his lead but as the laps progressed it wasn’t hard to tell that the Locomotive had his hands full. Fitzgerald meanwhile seemed to get better and closed in on the leader running the best lap of the race 17.008. But the crafty Collins held his line and went on to take his first win of ’09. “The car was fast from when we unloaded it,” said Collins in a post race interview, “we just took last years notes and stuck to them.”
Fitzgerald with his second place finish would move back into the points lead. Third would be Mike Carter, fourth Dillon Wood and Mark Whitener would battle his way back to a solid fifth place run.
The next race for the UDLMCS will be the second annual “Battle on the Blacktop” in which Collins is the defending Champ.
OFFICIAL FINISHING ORDER: 1. Johnny Collins 2. Jason Fitzgerald 3. Mike Carter 4. Dillon Wood 5. Mark Whitener 6. Scott Johnson 7. Russell Brown, Jr. 8. Keith Tuten 9. Jody Rodgers 10. Mark Carter 11. Chuck Chitty 12. Tyler Ivey 13. Troy Walker 14. Bo Johns 15. Tom Jones 16. Dusty Cone 17. Rhett Carter 18. Jamie Bowen (DNS)
-Top qualifiers were Johnny Collins and Dillon Wood
Heat Race #1 (top five) 1. Dillon Wood 2. Bo Johns 3. Mark Whitener 4. Mark Carter 5. Tom Jones
Heat Race #2 (top five) 1. Dusty Cone 2. Russell Brown Jr. 3. Jason Fitzgerald 4. Mike Carter 5. Rhett Carter