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Wilson North Carolina Firefighter Brandon Whitley Takes to Southern National’s High Banks

Brandon Whitley prepares to head onto the track for a practice run at Southern National Motorsports Park. (Andy Marquis photo)

LUCAMA, NC – During the week, 32-year-old Brandon Whitley is fighting fires and, on the weekends, he trades one fire suit for another.

Whitley, who lives in Elm City, has been a fixture on the racing scene in Eastern North Carolina since 2002, but has predominantly raced at the County Line Raceway dirt track in Elm City the past few years. This weekend, he’s making the transition back to asphalt racing and will compete in a Limited Late Model at Southern National Motorsports Park.

“I’m pretty satisfied with our car right now,” Whitely said after testing the car last week. “First time out with the car, we turned some really competitive times. I’m really looking forward to coming out on the 31st and seeing how we stack up against everybody. It’s been six years since I’ve turned any laps out here.”

Whitley first began racing at Southern National in 2002, while also racing some at East Carolina Motor Speedway in Robersonville, mostly in four-cylinder cars, before transitioning to dirt. He raced at Southern National again when the track reopened in 2012 in a Charger car but has not raced at Southern National since.

During his time away from the high banked track in Lucama, the surface has changed. The track surface is grittier, leading to less grip and more tire wear.

“The track definitely has more wear and tear in it,” Whitley explained. “A few more bumps here and there. We explored the track, figuring out where they were and worked through them. It’s lost a little bit of grip. I think this track was last repaved in 2006 so you can definitely tell it’s got some age on it. It doesn’t have as much grip and is a little looser.”

During the week, Whitley is a firefighter for the City of Wilson’s fire department.

“It’s a selfless job,” Whitley remarked. “I’ve been there for 11 years. Sometimes, it’s a lot of long hours. I try to stay cool and calm in intense situations and that kind of transfers over to racing.”

Now that he’s back in a racecar at Southern National, Whitley’s goal is the same as any other driver’s goal – winning.

“I wouldn’t leave the house if I didn’t think we stood a chance at winning,” Whitley commented. “I think, overall, we’ll be pretty good. There’s a lot of stiff competition in Limited Late Models. I’m just fortunate enough to have support behind me getting this car out here and I hope we can put it to the front.”

Whitley’s Limited Late Model debut will come on Saturday in the Easter Bunny 100 which will also feature racing for the USAC Easter Midgets, Mini-Stocks, Legends, Bandoleros and Any Cars. The green flag will fly at 2pm. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for kids ages 6-12 while kids five and under are admitted free.

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.

Late Models to Remain on Hoosiers at Southern National; No Decision on Limiteds Yet

Southern National Motorsports Park will continue to run on Hoosier F-45 tires in the Late Model Stock Car division. (Photo credit: Andy Marquis/SNMP

Lucama, NC – Following a tire test earlier this month with American Racer tires, Southern National Motorsports Park has decided to keep the Late Model Stock Cars on the Hoosier F-45 tire for this season.

Southern National Motorsports Park General Manager Charlie Hansen said the decision was made to keep most of the competitors from having to make a change just to compete at the 4/10 mile speed plant.

“The tire of choice throughout this region is the Hoosier F-45 and it didn’t make sense for us to use something different than what most racers are already used to running,” Hansen said.  “We’re in a position where our schedule is shorter and racers will be coming from a lot of tracks and series to compete with us and it just doesn’t make sense to make everyone have to make wholesale changes to their cars to adjust for a different tire when the rest of the region primarily runs the Hoosier F-45.”

Hansen also stated that no decision has been made about what tire the Limited Late Models will run this season but that they would have another tire test, this time with Hoosier next week before making a final decision.

“We’re probably going to put the Limiteds on a different tire this season.  Something that will last longer and save them money.  The Limited division will run more races and we need them to be able to afford to race all year.  We’re going to test a couple different tire compounds with Hoosier before making a decision.”

The two tires that Hoosier will bring to the tire test is the Hoosier 1070 and F-80.  Both tires will be tested on the same day and will be compared to the American Racer tire tested earlier this month.  Limited Late Models have their first event at Southern National Motorsports Park on March 31st.

The goal of the tire change is to also help improve the quality of the tires for the Charger division and to move them to the Limiteds scuffs by the end of the season.

“This change will also filter down to our Charger division and hopefully make the racing better and give them a more repeatable tire to compete on.  Our goal is to have them on these scuffs by the end of this season.”

The Late Model Stock Cars will kick off the 2018 season on March 3rd with a 150-lap race featuring a potential $4,500 payday to the winner as well as a minimum of $600 to 18th finishing position and $500 to start.  The Dogwood 265 will also feature a 50-lap Mini Stock Mania race paying $500 to win, a 40-lap Charger feature and a 25-lap Bandolero race.  The opener will be a daytime event with a 2pm start time set.

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

Lee Pulliam Will Lead the 2017 Thanksgiving Classic Field to Green on Sunday Afternoon

Lee Pulliam rockets down the front stretch during final practice Saturday afternoon at Southern National Motorsports Park in preparation for qualifying time trials. (Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com)

Lucama, NC – Lee Pulliam, who had his 2016 Thanksgiving Classic ended early after contact between himself and Matt McCall earned the right to lead the field to the green flag with a 15.407-second (93.464 mph) lap of record earlier in the afternoon during single-car qualifying. 2016 winner, Tommy Lemon Jr., 2017 Hampton Heat winner, Bobby McCarty, Mike Darne and Philip Morris will round out the top five starters.

“We had a good car all weekend,” Pulliam said.  “The guys have been working hard.  We had a couple different packages that we tried yesterday.  We feel pretty good about it and think we’ve got a good piece for the race.  I don’t normally like predicting results, but I think we’ve got a good shot at it.  Hopefully, we can be in the right place at the right time.”

Others posting times fast enough to guarantee themselves a spot in the 2017 Solid Rock Carriers Thanksgiving Classic was Matt McCall, Bradley McCaskill, Mason Diaz, Peyton Sellers, Jonathan Findley, Justin Johnson, Brenden Queen, Cameron Bowen, Layne Riggs, and Jason York. The rest of the field will be set with a 25-lap Last Chance Race Sunday morning.

Grandstands will open at 9:45 AM. On track autograph session will begin at 10:15 AM and run ill 11:30 AM with the green flag scheduled to wave at noon.

 

2017 Thanksgiving Classic Qualifying Order

1 5 Lee Pulliam 15.407
2 27 Tommy Lemons Jr 15.447
3 22 Bobby McCarty 15.465
4 21 Mike Darne 15.470
5 01 Philip Morris 15.474
6 51 Matt McCall 15.477
7 07 Bradley McCaskill 15.494
8 24 Mason Diaz 15.522
9 26 Peyton Sellers 15.547
10 4 Jonathan Findley 15.548
11 44 Justin Jonhson 15.555
12 03 Brenden Queen 15.656
13 19 Cameron Bowen 15.660
14 63 Tyler Matthews 15.692
15 99 Layne Riggs 15.702
16 18 Jason York 15.754
17 9 Alex Brock 15.760
18 82 Will Burns 15.772
19 41 Sam Meyer 15.794
20 17 Stacey Puyear 15.800
21 55 Mark Wertz 15.831
22 9 Devon Dodson 15.843
23 24 Colin Garret 15.868
24 90 Terry Carroll 15.871
25 2 Robert Powell 15.923
26 22 Grayson Cullather 19.936
27 91 Justin Carroll 15.953
28 33 Ryan Haddock 15.958
29 46 Thad Moffit 15.975
30 82 Cameron Burke 16.009
31 5 Adam Resnick 16.062
32 82 Mike Ganoe 16.082
33 15 Noland Pope 16.181
34 9 Charlie Watson 16.184
35 28 Jason Barnes 16.219
36 1 Juan Guanzalez 16.248
37 9 Rodney Boyd 16.450
38 16 Rusty Daniels Prov

Mason Diaz and Colt James Split Fast Five Pro Late Model Features; James Clinches Track Championship

Colt James celebrates his ninth win on the season as well as the 2017 Fast Five Pro Late Model track championship. (Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com)

Lucama, NC – Mason Diaz, who will make his Camping World Truck Series debut at Martinsville Speedway next weekend, snapped Colt James’ win streak in the Pro Late Model division at Southern National Motorsports Park.

James entered the weekend as the division points leader riding an eight-race win streak and a $1,000 bounty on his head. Johnathan Findley, the 2015 Late Model Stock Car track champion, set quick time earlier in the afternoon with 15.239 (94.494 MPH) second lap. Bradley McCaskill, entering the race hunting that bounty would roll off second followed by Colt James, Casey Roderick, and Mason Diaz.

Findley was certainly the car to beat early in the race creating over a full second lead over the rest of the field when the green flag was displayed. Findley would set a blistering pace until lap 42 when he fell off the pace quickly and came to a dead stop on the front stretch. The caution would be displayed for the second, and what would be final time of the first 75-lap feature. Findley would get the car fired back up and drive towards the end of pit road where he would stall and need assistance off the speedway.

It would take two attempts to get the race going again as the tower did not like something on the restart. However, once the field was rolling Diaz was able to jump ahead of James to take the race lead. Colt James would struggle just a bit on the top groove and ultimately surrender second place to Casey Roderick. Diaz would lead the rest of the way to the checkered flag snapping Colt James eight-race win streak, earning his first career win in a Pro Late Model, and collected the $1,000 bounty that had been growing throughout the race season.

A four-car invert was instituted for the final 75-lap feature for the Fast Five Pro Late Models handing the front row over to the top two contenders for the championship; Will Bristle and Colt James. It was all Colt James when the green flag was displayed, and with a little help from a not so good start from Bristle, took sole possession of the race lead and never looked back. Roderick looked to give the eight-time winner a run for his money, however, until something let go under the hood of Roderick’s car ending his night on lap eighteen.

James would flex his muscle on the ensuing restart following the red flag conditions leaving Mason Diaz to battle Jody Measamer for second. At one point, during the final handful of laps, you could have thrown a blanket over the top three cars that was how close they were running. Measamer was able to take the second position from Diaz on the final restart of the race and was able to keep Diaz behind him to capture the second place finish. James’ ninth win in ten tries was, of course, enough to clinch the 2017 track championship.

“We’re like the little team that could,” James said in victory lane Sunday evening. “You’ll never beat me in heart. I always got more heart. We’re just like everybody in the stands, we’re blue collar. We go to work from 7-5 Monday through Friday, come out here and race our butts off and try to show that there’s still room for the little guy out here. We just try to win races.”

 

FAST 5 Pro Late Model Race 1;

  1. #24 Mason Diaz; 75
  2. #18 Casey Roderick; 75
  3. #15 Colt James; 75
  4. #91 Will Bristle; 75
  5. #83 Matt Sever; 75
  6. #6 Cody Quarrick; 74
  7. #18 Bradley McCaskill; 50
  8. #4 Johnathan Findley; 42
  9. #98 Jody Measamer; 33
  10. #14 Greg Burgess; 10

 

FAST 5 Pro Late Model Race 2; 

  1. #15 Colt James; 75
  2. #98 Jody Measamer; 75
  3. #24 Mason Diaz; 75
  4. #83 Matt Sever; 75
  5. #91 Will Bristle; 73
  6. #14 Greg Burgess; 51
  7. #6 Cody Quarrick; 33
  8. #18r Casey Roderick; 18
  9. #18 Bradley McCaskill; 1
  10. #4 Johnathan Findley; DNS

Mother Nature Wins Again at Southern National – Spooktacular Postponed

LUCAMA, NC – Pre-race ceremonies began at Southern National Motorsports Park on Saturday night and that was when the rain came and washed out the Spooktacular.

Track officials worked diligently to dry the track after an afternoon rain shower but to no avail.  During pre-race festivities, which featured a moving tribute to engine builder Mike Harrell who passed away earlier this week, the sky opened up forcing Southern National Motorsports Park to pull the plug.

A makeup date for the Spooktacular has not yet been determined but will be announced on social media when decided.

The next event at Southern National Motorsports Park is the Day of Destruction on Saturday, September 28th.  The Day of Destruction will be headlined by Demolition Derby competition as well as Enduro Racing and other events.  More information about the Day of Destruction can be found at http://www.snmpark.com/demoderby.

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

Thanksgiving Classic to Pay $20,000 to Win with Racing Roulette Format

Late Model Stock Car racing in last year’s Thanksgiving Classic. (Photo credit: Corey Latham/Race22.com)

The 17th running of the Thanksgiving Classic at Southern National Motorsports Park will bring the event back to the forefront of the big races in the Southeast region.

$20,000 will be the top prize for the 200-lap six-tire Late Model Stock Car race. The upped purse comes with a twist which is being referred to as Racing Roulette.

Late Model Stock Car drivers will have the option to race for three different winner’s purses. Escalating from $6,000 to $20,000 depending on the entry fee paid for the event.  Additionally, the halfway point will pay $2,000.

The race’s base purse pays $6,000 to win, the same as it paid last year with a $125 entry fee for the teams.   Teams will have the option to pay an elevated entry fee of $500 for a chance at a $10,000 winner’s purse or gamble it big with a $1,000 entry “fee and win $20,000.

“We wanted to do something different,” said track owner Michael Diaz.  “Everyone is doing the same thing and we wanted to bring a different element to the event and give guys a chance to win some big money without spending a lot more.”

The race is set to pay $650 to start but the upped entry fee of $1,000 will be matched as start money for those who pay the escalated entry fee. Which takes the risk out of putting up the additional money.

“The risk is minimum even if you go for the big money you’re still going to get that money back at the end of the night.  It’s minimum risk, maximum reward. It’d be cool if a guy rolled the dice and won the $20,000.”

The purse throughout the field won’t change from second to start money which begins at 12th position.  That might give even more incentive for guys to roll the dice in Racing Roulette.

Local race fan and businessman Kirk Ipock is helping to make this a marquee event in the Southeast.  His company Solid Rock Carriers are sponsoring the Thanksgiving Classic.

“I’m happy to be sponsoring the Thanksgiving Classic,” Ipock said.  “It’s the biggest race there is at the end of the year and it’s the end of the season.  I like Southern National Motorsports Park and hope to be a part of it next year as well.”

$20,000 is only $5,000 short of the top prize for the LMSC race at Martinsville Speedway making it the second highest paying race in all of Late Model Stock Car racing.

“This should take our race to the next level,” explained Diaz.  “Sometimes it takes a little innovation to get the notoriety of an event back where it needs to be and we think this could be it.  It’ll also be big for the fans who will get to see all the top LMSC drivers in the region go for a big prize.”

Who’s ready to take the Racing Roulette challenge and go for $20,000 in the 17th running of the Thanksgiving Classic?

Matt Craig Dominates for PASS Victory at Southern National

LUCAMA, NC – Matt Craig took the lead from Matt Wallace on lap 28 of Saturday night’s 150 lap PASS South Super Late Model race and never looked back, as he scored his second Southern National win of the year in dominant fashion.

Craig, who has enjoyed plenty of success at Southern National with two wins in the Pro Late Model Series last year along with a PASS South win earlier this year, performed a sweep of the PASS South Series with his victory on Saturday.

“That’s really cool to sweep the season in PASS, both races,” Craig said after the race.  “The car has just been phenomenal.  We have a good setup under our piece right now and I think it was a good race.  I wish we had a few more cautions there, got strung and my car kept getting a little better and some other ones were fading.  It was a lot of fun.  I love this track a whole bunch and hope we come back here next year.”

Early in the race, Matt Wallace pulled away with a big lead, until the caution came out for rain, erasing Craig’s deficit to Wallace.  Craig, who had been saving tires, was able to get by and then pull away.  He would go on to survive a series of late race restarts to pick up the win, his fourth win of the season in PASS South competition.

“We were just letting off at the flagstand,” Craig explained.  “He was running a little hard and I’ve done it before.  It takes a while to learn your lesson about that.  With five to go, I wasn’t real worried.  My crew was giving me the lap times and we felt safe.”

Maine driver Dave Farrington finished the race in second while fellow northern driver Trevor Sanborn was third.  Rounding out the top-five were Jared Fryar and veteran Jay Fogleman.

Gary Ledbetter, Jr. dominated in the 50 lap Mid-Atlantic Street Stock feature race to score the victory in convincing fashion.  Much like Craig had to do in the Super Late Model race, Ledbetter survived a series of late race restarts and held on for the victory.

“You try to save as much tire as you can for cautions at the end if you have any,” Ledbetter said.  “We saved enough where it helped out and worked out for us.  I knew the car was good, but a restart worries you.  Bobby [Templeton] ran me clean.  He’s a good driver.  Still, you never know, five to go, sometimes people are hungrier than others.”

Tumbleton finished in second while Ricky Locklair, Jr. finished third, Sonny Schoffen was fourth and Jeff Melton finished fifth.

Southern National Motorsports Park resumes its regular season on Friday night, August 4th with the #StottStrong195 presented by Solid Rock Carriers out of LaGrange, North Carolina, headlined by twin Late Model Stock Car races.  Chargers, Mini Stocks, Legends, Bandoleros and Any Cars will also be in action in a memorial race for Ashley Stott, a longtime supporter of Southern National Motorsports Park.

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

Unofficial Results

PASS Super Late Model

1.    Matt Craig

2.    Dave Farrington

3.    Trevor Sanborn

4.    Jared Fryar

5.    Jay Fogleman

6.    Joe Graf, Jr.

7.    Kodie Conner

8.    Tate Foleman

9.    Sarah Cornett-Ching

10.  Matt Wallace

11.  Roy Hayes, III

12.  Eddie Fatscher

13.  Jody Measamer

14.  Will Bristle

MASS Street Stock

1.    Gary Ledbetter, Jr.

2.    Bobby Tumbleton, III

3.    Ricky Locklair, Jr.

4.    Sonny Schoffen

5.    Jeff Melton

6.    Gary Ledbetter, Sr.

7.    Kevin Ellis

8.    David Thomas

9.    Kevin Benton

10.  Wayne Locklair

11.  Greg Barnette

12.  Chuck Ison

13.  Wesley Scott

14.  Michael Worthington

15.  James Horner, Jr.

16.  Ron Flynn

17.  Kyle Lynch

18.  Ricky Locklair, Sr.

19.  Anthony Yarborough

20.  Larry Isenhower

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