Thaxton & Bowling Split Twin Bill at South Boston Speedway

_Pace LapsSouth Boston, VA – With forecasts looking grim for just about evey race track on the eastern seaboard. Colder than average temps and the threat of rain – and snow in some regions – put track officials and race directors is some pretty tough situations. With NASCAR Tour Mods coming into town, officials made the call to move the drop of the green flag from the evening to the afternoon in hopes to avoid the subarctic temperatures.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stocks on tap for two 75-lap features. Thaxton, your most recent South Boston winner, paced the field in both afternoon practice. With just ten minutes of practice in both sessions Thaxton told us he didn’t think they were that good in practice. Citing that it was difficult to try to get a good lap in with all the cars on the track at the same time. Didnt seem to pahse him to much if you ask me.

Qualifying, the first order of business, rolled off slightley after the one o’clock hower following the Modifieds. In normal South Boston fashion, cars were sent out in groups of five for five laps to lay down their best time. Grouped together by pratice times to ensure that the faster drivers are not held up by those who are a bit off the pace. Nathan Crews in the black number three actually held the top spot for quite some time untill the likes of Phillip Morris, Austin Thaxton, and Lee Pulliam hit the pavement. Pulliam would eventually post the fastest time of the session with a 15.691 (91.772 MPH)

The green flag was displayed just shortly after 2:00 PM and 28 Late Model Stocks came to life. A combined seven national titles, between Pulliam & Morris, lead the field down into turn one. Fighting for the same piece of real estate. Morris was able to use the top groove to get around the #5 of Pulliam and take the lead by lap seven. Pulliam would be left to deal with the likes of Bobby McCarty who has been strong the last few weeks around the historic 4/10th mile oval. Matter of fact about seven laps later, McCarty, with the help of some lap traffic found himself leading the field. Morris, on the other hand, got the bad end of the deal and was shuffled back to fifth.

Took 19 laps to find our first caution – coming right as a good battle for the seventh spot between Queen, Willis, Jr., and Wertz was heating up – Nathan Crews goes around in turn one. Did not see if contact was made or if he had some help but Crews was able to get the car fired and pointed in the right direction and return to the action. The caution set up the first cone restart of the day where McCarty and Austin Thaxton elected to stay low while Pulliam and Sellers took the cone and would start to their outside. Bobby McCarty was able to hold off Pulliam on the bottom groove and take the top spot back opening a ten car lead early, leaving second through about fifteenth to fight nose to tail.

We would see racing action all through out the field for the next twenty-six laps. Brenden Queen and Mark Wertz would pick up where they left off fighting for the eighth spot. Brandon Pierece and Thomas Scott sparked up a great battle just a couple cars back. Peyton Sellers was also able to get around the #01 of Morris for the fourth position until te field was slowed for the second time due to Eric Winslow loosing it off four.

Bunching the field up for another restart, Austin Thaxton elected to use the cone and start to the outside of McCarty. Proved to be the right move because he was able to outrun McCarty for the lead off four, bringing Pulliam with him. However, the field would be slowed once more due to an altercation between Pierce and Holdren on the front stretch that eventually took Terry Carroll with him – setting up a green white checkered.

Clean up complete, line up set with Thaxton electing to use the low groove this time. Out comes the green flag and down into one the field went. Thaxton at the point, McCarty trying to defend. Mean while Pulliam muscles his way under McCarty in two, they would touch ultimatley sending Pulliam around and causing a mad dash to avoid collision through out the field. So much so Brenden Queen would be forced down pit road, at speed, to avoid the wreck as the tower did not throw a caution. Austin Thaxton able to hang onto things and grab the victory, his second in a row at South Boston.

McCarty, post race, told the fans after his second place finish that he was sorry for what happened there at the end. He doesn’t race that way with anyone, however, he had already committed to the gas and things just happened. Pulliam, as anyone would expect not to happy of the finish, seems like 2016 is just a series of bad luck for the defending National Champ.

“We went out in practice and it was just crazy with the amount of cars out there, everyone trying to get a run,” Thaxton said. “I didn’t feel we were that good but ended up on top of the board both runs. We just missed it a little bit in qualifying and I started fifth. We had that restart there late in the race and got by the leader and run really well and was able to hold them off for the win there.” With the new rules at South Boston and with Thaxton winning two races in a row he would be forced to start mid-pack for the second race. Thaxton would also pull a number seven for the invert for race two.


Race 2

The top seven cars from race number one were inverted to set the starting line up for the second twin feature of the afternoon. This would give the pole Brenden Queen, the young driver from Chesapeake, Virginia, followed another up and coming 757 driver from Williamsburg, Virginia, Justin Carroll. Willis, Jr., Wertz, Sellers, McCarty and Bowling were the remaing seven drivers moved around by the invert. Who to watch this second race? Lee Pulliam – never mind the fire in his eyes after spinning on the last lap, but that is one man who does not like to be in the back. The other, Austin Thaxton, obviously with a fast car and a decent amount of competitors to work through.

Few extra pace laps to help work the rubber into the track and heat into the cars until the green was given to Queen and Carroll. Getting the better start was Brenden Queen taking the top spot and leading the pack out of two. Willis also able to get a better jump than Carroll and putting pressure on Queen for the top spot. Danny Willis, Jr., who competed in the Limited Sportsman division last year, was able to run a lower line that Queen and it proved to work out as he was able to drive under Brenden and take the lead on lap 11.

Some incrediable racing toward the front of the pack with the “regulars” as well as some of the newcomers. Both Justin Carroll and Mark Wertz looking to flex their muscles and earn a top finish. Matter of fact Wertz was able to work his way around some of some familiar faces of Queen and Carroll to work his way up to the second position and hunting down Willis.

Mean while some of the big names like Sellers, Morris, Bowling, Pulliam must work their way through the stout field of Late Models. Took 28-laps this time around for the caution to be displayed. Mulligan the culprit this time looping it in turn two as she and Wertz made just the smallest bit of contact. Not a whole lot of harm done to either car or anyone else for that matter. Was able to bunch the field back up for another cone re-start.

Willis wasting no time at the drop of the green to get the top spot back, Mark Wertz would tuck right in behind him. Queen getting the short end of the stick getting freight trained back to the seventh positon while Phillip Morris looked to be shot out of a cannon. Another quick yellow allowed Morris to take the cone and restart on the outside pole and eventually take the lead on the ensuing restart. Good battles for postion throughout the field heat up with Bowling looking to get around Wertz for third, Pulliam now working his way up to the fifth postion as the leaders approched lap 40.

Matt Bowling, who had really come on strong towards the end of the race, was able to get by Wertz for third not soon after the field went back green. Did not take long for the #83 to catch and pass Danny Willis – which we thought was for the lead during the race if you watched our Twitter coverage. Either way, Bowling was the car to beat late in that second race as he was able to track down Morris and make the pass on lap 64. Morris would make the attempt to charge back to the lead there late, trying to use some lap cars to his advantage, but it just was not enough for the defending track champion as he took home his third victory of the season. Phillip Morris, Lee Pulliam, Austin Thaxton, and Landon Huffman would round out the top five.

“These guys worked hard last night,” Bowling said after the race. “HC worked about all night on that thing which is pretty cool. We just kept working on it all day and kept digging. We just kept nipping away at it and had a good car there at the end, it was a good way to end the weekend.” Bowling also made mention of the invert and tire rule stating it was just part of the deal. “Yea you wish it was different, you win two in a row and you want to start up front where you think you belong but its just part of the deal, we had to do it.” Bowling also made mention of running next weekends CARS Tour event at Orange County.



Race #1

1) #12 Austin Thaxton
2) #6 Bobby McCarty
3) #26 Peyton Sellers
4) #55 Mark Wertz
5) #23 Danny Willis
6) #91 Justin Carroll
7) #03 Brenden Queen
8) #83 Matt Bowling
9) #75 Landon Huffman
10) #8 Thomas Scott
11) #01 Philip Morris
12) #9A Alex Brock
13) #5 Lee Pulliam
14) #50 Raymond Pittman
15) #0 Justin Snow
16) #57 Kelly Kingery
17) #22 Eric Winslow
18) #3 Nathan Crews
19) #2 Dennis  Holdren
20) #2B Brandon Pierce
21) #90 Terry Carroll
22) #29 Stuart Crews
23) #51 Jason Pittman
24) #64 Charles Barnes
25) #19 Cameron Bowen
26) #38 Mark Keessee
27) #28 Jason Barnes
28) #10 Maddy Ryan Mulligan

Race #2

1) #83 Matt Bowling
2) #01 Philip Morris
3) #5 Lee Pulliam
4) #12 Austin Thaxton
5) #75 Landon Huffman
6) #23 Danny Willis
7) #91 Justin Carroll
8) #55 Mark Wertz
9) #26 Peyton Sellers
10) #9A Alex Brock
11) #6 Bobby McCarty
12) #03 Brenden Queen
13) #57 Kelly Kingery
14) #38 Mark Keessee
15) #50 Raymond Pittman
16) #29 Stuart Crews
17) #3 Nathan Crews
18) #64 Charles Barnes
19) #10 Maddy Ryan Mulligan
20) #22 Eric Winslow
21) #8 Thomas Scott
22) #0 Justin Snow
23) #28 Jason Barnes
24) #19 Cameron Bowen

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