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Matt Craig Dominates Super Late Model Portion of the Thanksgiving Classic Makeup

Matt Craig returns to Southern National Motorsports Victory Lane. Photo from 2017

Kenly, NC– In a field of 12 cars, Carson Kvapil laid down the fastest qualifying effort with a time of 14.785 (97.396 mph). Brandon Setzer, Kodie Conner, Matt Craig, and Mike Darne rounded out the fast five. After qualifying, Kvapil pulled an invert of six putting Josh Brock on the pole for the race.

Once the green flag flew, Josh Brock and Mike Darne had a short battle for the lead with Darne pulling ahead of the field. Craig took little time to get to Darne’s back bumper and took the lead on lap five. Darne would fall to second as Brock looked to take it from him. Darne held Brock off and went back on the charge to catch Craig. Lap 15 came on the scoreboard and it was Craig, Darne, Conner, Kvapil, and Brock rounding out the top five.

After starting last, Natalie Decker (Part-Time Gander Outdoor Truck Series Driver) worked her way up to seventh to battle Setzer for sixth. The two of them battled back and forth until Setzer got some distance between the two. Back up front, Brock had made his way around Kvapil for fourth. Lap 30 and Craig had a two-car length lead over Darne as the field went single file.

Suddenly, Darne fell off the pace and fell from second to tenth place on lap 40. Darne looked to be using strategy for the long run. A three-car battle ensued between Setzer, Decker and Hudson Halder for the fifth position. The first caution came out on lap 47 for Decker going for a spin in turn two after a hard battle for fifth. During the caution, Darne came down pit road for his team to service his problems.

The green flag flew, Craig and Conner got a good side by side start going into turn one. The caution would come back out for issues in turn two. with the green flag back out, Craig got a better start this time and took charge into turn two. Just shy of the halfway point, Nolan Pope worked his way into the top five for the first time. With the caution, Decker was able to get back to the bumper of Setzer once again to try and take the position away from him. Kvapil began to make some moves as he passed Brock for third on lap 55.

Pope also looked to get passed Brock but he threw a block on him. Pope had enough and moved Brock up the track in turn four and took over fourth with Setzer following behind him. Brock would fall to sixth with a mirror full of Decker. Lap 75 and Brock had worked his way back to the bumper of Setzer to take the fifth spot back. Decker also fell off the pace a bit and had a challenge from Toby Grynewicz.

With 25 laps to go, it was time for drivers to make their move if they wanted to catch Craig, who had a straightaway lead over the field. After a strong run all night, on lap 102 Setzer pulled his machine in the pits and parked it for the night. Craig has caught up to sixth place Decker to put her a lap down with ten laps to go.

While Craig kept putting distance on Conner in second, Pope got around Kvapil for third on lap 117. Craig caught Brock who was fifth and put him a lap down as well. The checkered flag flew and Matt Craig picked you the win in dominating fashion lapping all but four cars and leading 120 of 125 laps. Kodie Conner, Nolan Pope, Carson Kvapil, and Josh Brock finished the top five.

 

Super Late Model 125 Results

  1. #54 Matt Craig; 125
  2. #45 Kodie Conner; 125
  3. #1 Nolan Pope; 125
  4. #35 Carson Kvapil; 125
  5. #17 Josh Brock; 124
  6. #61 Natalie Decker; 124
  7. #9 Hudson Halder; 124
  8. #6 Mike Darne; 123
  9. #21 Time Allensworth; 123
  10. #24 JP Joassie; 122
  11. #6 Brandon Seltzer; 101
  12. #48 Toby Grynewicz; 98

Matt McCall Recovers From Mid Race Spin to Win Second Thanksgiving Classic

Matt McCall and track owner Michael Diaz in victory lane following McCall’s thrilling 2018 Thanksgiving Classic win. (Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com)

Lucama, NC– When you only get to race once a year you have to make the most it. Matt McCall most certainly did so yet again this weekend at Southern National Motorsports Park for the 2018 Thanksgiving Classic. Because of obvious reasons, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series crew chief only gets to run one race a year and for the past two he has taken the hardware and the money back home with him.

Coming into the weekend McCall picked up right where he left off last year showing the fastest time in final practice on Friday afternoon. All on track activity for Saturday was completely washed out due to hours worth of rain so we did not get to see if anyone could make adjustments and post a faster time. With that being said as well as missing some of the heavy hitters like Lee Pulliam, Tommy Lemons Jr., Josh Berry, and Peyton Sellers, McCall – along with four time track champion Deac McCaskill – was an obvious favorite to take home the checkered. He backed up his practice efforts with a third place qualifying effort.

When it was go time McCall spent most of the race in the runner up position chasing around Deac McCaskil, who was running just fast enough to stay out in front of the field. Things, however, took a turn for the worse for McCall just past the halfway point of the feature when we got turned around exiting turn two after a lapped car spun in front of the leaders. Because he was deemed as part of the caution, race control moved him to the back of the lead lap cars, ultimately creating one of the best comebacks in recent Thanksgiving Classics.

“They pay out money at lap one-hundred and I got a little greedy trying to get that money and it put me in a bad spot,”McCall said in victory lane. “Fortunately I knew there were enough laps. I even tried to fight it [the call to the rear] there to keep our position but we were not able to. We knew we had to pick them off and try to save, but there wasn’t a whole lot of saving there for the last run. Fortunately it ran green and I believe all the guys that got the outside had the advantage. All in all it was a lot of fun.”

This years race, though it featured the same Racing Roulette rules, once again added a new element to the race – controlled cautions. These would be caution periods where teams could come down pit road and not lose positions to the other cars that decided to pit. Officials would slow the pace of the cars left on the speedway and give those on pit road four laps to go to work. One of the ideas here is to take away the traditional break you always see in some of these big races. We asked McCall after the race if that changed the way he and his team approached the race.

“It was going to change it big in my opinion when the caution came out and we got put to the back,”McCall explained. “Potentially if that was not the last controlled caution we would have pitted and it would have looked like their was a little strategy involved. I think the way it played out it didn’t look as good as it could have been. I think it was still a little bit hard to under stand and a little open ended. I think there is potential there I just don’t think it can become a weekly thing.”

Once McCall was able to pick is way through the field with the help of an incredibly fast car and timely cautions things really started to heat up in the closing laps between he and McCaskill. The pass for the lead came with under five laps to go where fans got to witness some of the closes and cleanest racing for a win all year long.

“That’s Deac,”McCall said when asked about how close the two raced each other in the closing laps. “He always does [races clean] and he even raced me clean when I piled drove the wall there. I got loose off two and decided there was no reason to lift because it was going to get ugly. It was enough to get through three and four to get the checkered.”

2018 Thanksgiving Classic OFFICIAL Results;

1          #51     Matt McCall; 200

2          #08     Deac McCskill; 200

3          #07     Bradley McCaskill; 200

4          #22     Bobby McCarty; 200

5          #99     Layne Riggs; 200

6          #12     Brandon Pierce; 200

7          #01     Philip Morris; 200

8          #17     Stacey Puryear; 200

9          #63     Tyler Matthews; 200

10       #03     Brenden Queen; 200

11       #17     Taylor Gray; 200

12       #54     Drew Dollar; 200

13       #44     Justin Johnson; 200

14       #21     Mike Darne; 200

15       #30     Clifton Daniels; 200

16       #24     Colin Garrett; 199

17       #8       Tyler Hughes; 199

18       #55     Mark Wertz; 199

19       #82     Mike Ganoe; 198

20       #92     Casey Wyatt; 198

21       #2       Dennis Holdren; 195

22       #36     Chris Johnson; 195

23       #06     Davin Scites; 194

24       #9       Thomas Burbage; 193

25       #94     Robbie Babb; 169

26       #12     Ryan Wilson; 161

27       #4       Jonathan Findley; 161

28       #81     Mini Tyrell; 146

29       #19     Cameron Bowen; 138

30       #01b   Camden Gullie; 91

31       #06     Terry Dease; 90

32       #23     Terry Brooks; 64

Karl Budzevski Wins Friday Nights Limited Late Model Dash to Kick off the 2018 Thanksgiving Classic

Karl Budzevski in Solid Rock Carriers Victory Lane Friday night at Southern National. (Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com)

Lucama, NC –  Bradley McCaskill was the fastest of sixteen cars earlier in the evening during final Limited Late Model practice for the Friday portion of the Thanksgiving Classic. The grid was set by the fastest time in that final practice and McCaskill’s 15.830-second lap was enough to score him the pole. Mike Darne, filling in for last years Dash winner Mini Tyrell, qualified second while Brandon Clements, Karl Budzevski, and Stephen Jones rounded out the top five.

Darne, who is no rookie to Southern National, looked like he was going to take control of things early and use that outside line to his advantage. He was able to lead the first two laps before having to give the lead back to McCaskill. Darne would get hung out to dry on that top groove but ultimately would only fall back to third. Budzevski ultimately taking over the second spot and the pursuit for the lead.

The only caution would come on lap seventeen when the power plant under the hood of Louis Whites No. 7 would expire coming off turn two. It couldn’t come at a better time for Budzevski as he would be scored as the race leader when the caution car picked up the field. Track workers cleaned up the mess rather quickly and the race saw its first and only cone restart.

When the green flag was displayed Budzevski took sole possession of the race lead with McCaskill hot on his tracks for about two laps before falling back a handful of car lengths and ultimately losing the second spot to Darne with just under twenty laps to go in the feature. Try as they might it was ultimately Karl Budzevski taking home the checkered flag and the trophy.

 

  1. #26 Karl Budzevski; 40
  2. #81 Mike Darne; 40
  3. #07 Bradley McCaskill; 40
  4. #1 Andrew Grady; 40
  5. #91 Stephen Jones; 40
  6. #31 Wayne Goss; 40
  7. #29 Paul Williamson; 40
  8. #15 Clay Jones; 40
  9. #29 Brian Obiedzenski; 40
  10. #42 Amber Slagle; 40
  11. #31 Cole Bruce; 40
  12. #43 Sam Pacitti; 40
  13. #7 Brandon Clements; 40
  14. #17 Jason Meyers; 40
  15. #33 Franklin Caricofe; 40
  16. #7 Louis White; 17

 

Action picked up quickly in the evening opening Mod 4 15-lap feature when pole-sitter Kevin Jeffries went for a spin in turn two on the initial start. Randy Ayers also spinning to more than likely miss tearing up his car. This allowed the No. 63 of Dennis Capps to start from the pole position and boy did he not waste his shot.

When the green flag was displayed back to the field Capps jumped out to an early lead. All the while Jeffries worked his way back up through the field. With just a five-car field it did not take long and we saw a battle for the top spot with just three laps to go. Capps, however, was able to hold on for the victory.

  1. #63 Dennis Capps
  2. #21 Kevin Jeffries
  3. #12 Justin Marsan
  4. #6 Mark Hood
  5. #23 Randy Ayers

 

Jeremy Bohne was the second driver of the evening to win their feature from the pole position. However, unlike the race before him, he was unable to lead every lap of the race. He was pretty darn close until a lap nineteen caution bunched the field up and allowed them to take the cone. Kornegay was the first to take the bait and would not only restart on the outside of Bohne but lead a couple laps before having to settle for second then eventually third.

The chargers will race once more on Sunday afternoon along with the Limited Late Models and the headlining Late Model Stock Cars.

  1. #72 Jeremy Bohne; 35
  2. #61 Michael Obrien; 35
  3. #33 Jonathan Kornegay; 35
  4. #81 Davis Warren; 35
  5. #84 Brandon Head; 35
  6. #51 Doug Warren; 35
  7. #61 Damon Stroud; 35

 

Alek Andrecs started the trend of “lets win the race from the pole” in the 20-lap Bando feature when we went on to lead every single lap. Andrecs had got off to a great start but would have his lead erased after Riley Music spun out in turn two. The restart, however, seemed to be nothing for Alec as he held off two separate charges from Derrick.

  1. #4 Alek Andrecs; 20
  2. #8 Jacob Derrick; 20
  3. #12 Bradan Andrecs; 20
  4. #8 Conner Weddell; 20
  5. #47 Riley Music; 20
  6. #9 Ayden Millette; 20

Late Model Stock Cars Hit the High Banks of Southern National for a Chance at $20,000 – Eleven Division Set to Run Over Three Days

The 18thAnnual Thanksgiving Classic at Southern National Motorsports Park is once again upon us. After we have had the day to sit back and reflect on what we are truly thankful for it is time to go racing for one final time here in the Mid-Atlantic region.

11 different divisions are set to hit the high-banked .400-mile speedway this weekend with the Late Model Stock Cars highlighting the weekend with a 200-lap, $20,000 to win feature – if you are brave enough to spin the roulette wheel that is. For the second year in a row, teams will have the opportunity to gamble with their race entry in the hopes of taking more money home with them.

“We took everyone’s thoughts and looked at how to implement them into this year,” said Diaz. “The drivers really gave us great feedback last year. The biggest thing they wanted was an increase in second through fifth position in the purse for the additional entry fee. That was an easy thing to fix and we think the drivers and teams will be happy with the additional money we’ve added to the purse.”

The additional money has been added specifically to second through fifth position for the drivers who take the gamble in Racing Roulette. Second position will increase from $2,500 to $4,500, third position will increase from $2,000 to $3,500, fourth position will increase from $1,500 to $2,750 and fifth position will increase from $1,200 to $2,250. An increase of $19,800 to the top five positions (including the $14,000 increase for first position) for the drivers who take the gamble.

“We really think after talking to the drivers that this will increase participation in Racing Roulette and give the drivers something to shoot for if they can’t win the race,”said track General Manager Charlie Hansen. “We’re adding nearly $20,000 to the purse no matter how many drivers try Racing Roulette. We’re hoping everyone tries to go for it but we want this to be something for the drivers to shoot for and something fun for the fans to play along within the stands.”

The Friday portion of the weekend, which is scheduled to take the green later this evening around 8:00 PM, will feature Bando’s, Mod 4, Chargers, and a 40-lap Limited Late Model Dash. A full weekend schedule can be found below. The Weekly Racer will once again provide you with LIVE coverage all weekend long. Keep an eye out on our social platforms for the links to the coverage.

 

Chris Chapman Prevails in Limited Late Model Thriller at Southern National

Chris Chapman (51) passes Rusty Daniels (16) to take the lead in the Easter Bunny 100 at Southern National Motorsports Park. (Josh Parrish/Short Track Central for SNMP photo)

LUCAMA, NC – Chris Chapman snapped a near two-year winless drought at Southern National Motorsports Park on Saturday afternoon, holding off Andrew Grady in a thriller in the Easter Bunny 100.

Rusty Daniels started on the pole and won the first segment of the race while Chapman was biding his time. In the second segment, Chapman made the move, taking the lead on the 41st overall lap of the race and holding off numerous challenges from Daniels and Grady. The win was Chapman’s first since April 2016.

“It’s been about a year since we won one out here,” Chapman said in victory lane. “We had a couple seconds out here last year. These guys dug deep over the winter. Wendell Davis gives me the best cars. Sometimes, I don’t know if it’s driver or what. This thing was on a rail today.”

In the final 40 lap segment, Chapman held off a hard charging Andrew Grady. Grady closed in to within a half car-length, but Chapman was able to hold him off on the restarts and drive away in the final laps.

“Sometimes, you don’t want to wear [tires] down because you don’t know when you’re going to have a caution,” Chapman explained. “You try to go hard and save all you can too. So that’s pretty much what it was.”

Grady wanted to win the race and the race played out like he had hoped, but he had to settle for second. Grady took his second-place finish in stride as something to build on throughout the season.

“We had a plan and we played it perfectly,” Grady said. “We saved the right-rear really well. Chapman man, love racing him with. He’s real fun to race with. We just got a little snug towards the end. That’s where he beat us at. We’re going to be running for the championship here this year. It’s going to come down to me and him. They know we were here, that’s what matters.”

Grady was within striking distance in the final laps but was not close enough to make a clean pass for the win. While he could have divebombed the corner or taken Chapman out, Grady said that’s not how he races with a competitor he has respect for like Chapman.

“If I would have dove in there two car-lengths deeper, I could have rooted him,” Grady remarked. “I’m not going to do that to Chris. I don’t race like that. Some other people, I would have raced like that but with Chris, I love racing with him. He’s a great guy, always races me clean. We always race hard together. We’ll come back in a week or two and hopefully we’ll be up there one more.”

Paul Williamson quietly snuck into the third position in the final handful of laps for one of his best career finishes.

“We didn’t win but I call it a win because we came from the back and fought all the way back up,” Williamson said. “Our car was tight but we were able to work with it during the race.”

Rusty Daniels won the race’s first stage and ended up finishing fourth while Wayne Goss methodically raced his way to a fifth-place finish. The race was slowed by a number of cautions late as paint was traded in the middle of the pack.

 

Sibling Showdown in Legends

Caleb Day scored the win in a barnburner for the Legends division. Much of the race was a battle between Caleb and his younger sister Emily Day. Emily passed Caleb after a mid-race restart and appeared to be on her way to her first Legend Car win in only her second start, but Caleb got back around her in the final laps and went on to win.

“I don’t know if it was as fun as it was stressful,” Caleb Day said in victory lane. “I thought I had a pretty good car until that caution came out and we didn’t hit on much after that caution. I wasn’t going to push the topic with her. Me and her, I don’t know, third or fourth Legends race, I just let her go on. You could tell she’s got a little work to do, same as me. I hate her and Stancil got together and sent her to the rear. She had a second-place car before the caution and just as good a car after the caution. It was a good day and at least we didn’t tear anything up.”

Emily Day was running second on the last lap but was involved in an incident with Chris Stancil which sent the race into overtime. Caleb Day held off Eric Courtney and Kade Lambert for the win.

“It’s a good way to start the year off,” Caleb remarked. “We started running dirt Legends and been messing around with that and we decided to come back and try it since we were going to be down here anyway. We had fun, it was good.”

Emily Day ended up finishing fourth while Aaron Crumpler finished fifth.

 

AJ Sanders Goes 2-0 in Mini-Stocks

AJ Sanders was once again victorious in the Mini-Stock feature, racing his way from worst to first and besting Ronnie “Buckshot” Jones and Brandon Clements to score the win.

“I had a lot of determination,” Sanders said. “A lot of fans don’t know what went on but we put two new rights on after qualifying because everybody else had put them on before qualifying. We had a little bit of a gentlemen’s agreement that we were all going to run used tires, then when they put new ones on, it kind of pissed me off. I went and put two new ones on and they said someone was complaining, so I said okay and we’ll go to the rear and make a show for the fans.”

It was a show indeed. With 13 laps to go, Sanders battled side-by-side with Clements for the lead, but Clements would prevail in the battle which also allowed Jones to get around to take the second spot. Jones then took the lead from Clements with 11 laps remaining. Just three laps later, Sanders would get around Jones and hold on for the win – his second of the season at Southern National.

“I knew I had a little fast car than [Jones] did and had to calm back down and hit my marks,” Sanders explained. “That’s what we did, hit our marks. I’ve got to thank the good Lord above for a safe race. About lost it down there underneath Brandon. It felt like I hit oil or something. Maybe I just drove in too hard.”

Jones finished in the runner-up spot while Clements, James Stroud and Joseph Pittman rounded out the top-five.

Jake Garcia led wire-to-wire in the 35 lap USAC Eastern Midgets race, scoring the win over Neil Allison and Nolan Allison, Parker Frazier scored the win in the 25 lap Bandolero race over Cameron Murray and Ethan Johnson, and Mike Parrish picked up the win over Chris Hales and Dakota Tomlinson in the 15 lap Any Car feature.

Southern National Motorsports Park will be back in action on Saturday, April 14th for the Whelen Engineering Spring Fling. The Spring Fling will be headlined by twin 75 lap races for the Late Model Stock Car division and also features the Chargers for 40 laps, Mini-Stocks for 35 laps, Legends for 20 laps, Bandoleros for 20 laps and Any Cars for 15 laps.

For more information about Southern National Motorsports Park, check out SNMP’s website at http://www.snmpark.com, “like” Southern National Motorsports Park on Facebook or “follow” @SNM_Park on Twitter.

Limited Late Models

  1. Chris Chapman
  2. Andrew Grady
  3. Paul Williamson
  4. Rusty Daniels
  5. Clay Jones
  6. Wayne Goss
  7. Tyler Horne
  8. Brian Obiedzenski
  9. Tim Allensworth
  10. Richard Caldwell
  11. Brandon Whitley
  12. Justin Gill
  13. Ashlyn McCaskill
  14. AJ Walsh
  15. Ryan Collins
  16. Eric Gerchak
  17. Jeremy Heath
  18. Daryn Cockram
  19. Kenneth Mercer – DNS
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