MERIDIAN, MS – Mike Boland of Cuba, AL won his second straight Labor Day Weekend Bash 75 on Saturday night for the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series at Whynot Motorsports Park driving The Strength Center Trak-Star. Boland held off Jim McDuffie of Meridian, MS to lead all 75 laps and pick up the $5,000 top prize.
Boland made the event a “Clean Sweep,” as he also set fast time during qualifications, and he won the first 15-lap heat race on Friday night to earn the pole position. It was also a good night for Boland as a car builder, as his Trak-Star race cars from his Boland Performance shops took three of the top four finishing positions.
“It was a great race because I knew Jim McDuffie was all over me late in the race,” Boland said. “I hated to see that caution flag with two laps to go, but everything worked out for us. This series is very competitive, and it feels good to have had the success we’ve had here at Whynot Motorsports Park.”
McDuffie put heavy pressure on Boland in the closing laps in lapped traffic, but had to settle for second in the H.E. Mosley, Inc. Trak-Star. Derrick Rainey of Powder Springs, GA drove the Hays Family Racing/Barto Enterprises Warrior to his fifth straight top five finish with a third-place effort. Cliff Williams of Star, MS was fourth in the Ware Construction Trak-Star.
NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series point leader Chip Brindle of Chatsworth, GA made a late race charge to take the Race Car Engineering Fifth-Place Award in the CSC Trailer Repair/Brindle Brothers Auto Parts Mastersbilt.
Larry Murphy of Meridian, MS took the sixth spot in the Designer Cords GRT, and Larry Boutwell of Baker, FL was seventh in the McLeod Construction TNT. Brindle now holds a 96-point lead over Boutwell in the 2008 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National point standings.
Randy Boyd of Marion, MS claimed the Race Car Engineering Eighth-Place Award in the D&C Motorsports Tornado, and Scott Knowles of Lanett, AL took the Maximum Signs Ninth-Place Award in the All-Star Graphics GRT to earn the Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Race honors and move up to third in the National points chase, ten points behind Boutwell.
Eric Cooley of Fulton, MS rounded out the top ten in the Tiffin Motorhomes Mastersbilt. Hunter Peacock of Macon, GA started 24th and finished 14th in the Nasworthy Mechanical Bullet to earn the Hard Charger of the Race Award.
When the field took the green flag, McDuffie took the lead from the outside front row starting spot followed by Boland, but the start was negated due to a six-car pile up on the backstretch during the opening lap. The wreck sidelined Rick Hasselle of Collinsville, MS in the Boland Performance Trak-Star and Curtis Cline of Douglasville, GA in the Crist Roofing Warrior.
Boland was able to take the lead on the restart followed by Rainey, McDuffie, Chad Thrash of Meridian, MS in the Speedway Collectibles USA GRT, and Murphy. Boland set a fast pace in the opening laps, as he was lapping cars by the tenth lap. A caution flag for debris on lap 16 bunched up the field for the restart with Rainey, McDuffie, Thrash, Murphy and Knowles trailing Boland.
Jeffrey Walker of Meridian, MS spun his Randy Thompson Auto Repair GRT in turn two on lap 22 and collected Boutwell, who was running eighth. Boutwell was able to continue for the restart, but Thrash had a problem, and stalled on the backstretch, giving up the fourth spot.
On the next restart, the top nine cars settled in to run the bottom groove, but tenth-place Jason Hiett of Lincoln, AL took his N&N Motors GRT to the outside and moved up to the sixth spot by lap 24. Hiett passed Knowles for the fifth spot on lap 27, but his spectacular drive came to an end on lap 28 when he jumped the cushion and hit the second turn wall.
That put Hiett out for the evening, and earned him the Dominator Race Products Hard Luck of the Race Award.
Boland led the field down for the restart followed by Rainey, McDuffie, Murphy, Knowles, Boyd, Williams, Talbert Goldman of Meridian, MS in the Mike Goldman Customs Trak-Star, Brindle, and Blake Stewart of Centre, AL in the Morrison Construction/Cash Store Warrior. Boyd and Williams got by Knowles on lap 30 to take over the fifth and sixth spots respectively.
The field stayed green until lap 42 when Stephen Brantley of Monroeville, AL stalled his Airport Sports Center Mastersbilt on the backstretch. On the restart, McDuffie powered around Rainey to take the second spot. Williams continued his march through the field on lap 45 when he passed Boyd for the fifth spot. Boutwell passed Goldman for tenth on lap 49.
Boland pulled out to a ten car-length lead over McDuffie, as Rainey began to fade from the leaders. Williams got by Murphy for the fourth position on lap 57, and Cooley climbed into the top ten on lap 59.
Boland pulled up to lap Stewart on lap 65, but could not find the room he needed to make the move. That enabled McDuffie to pull up on the back bumper of Boland. With three laps to go, Boland got by Stewart, and began to pull away while McDuffie tried to find the room to get by Stewart.
Stewart tangled with Chris Tays of Corinth, MS in the Bud Coley Trucking/Circle H Concrete Trak-Star on lap 74 on the front stretch. Both cars had cut tires and stopped on the track to bring out the eighth and final caution flag of the race. That set up a two lap dash to the finish with Boland leading McDuffie, Rainey, Williams, Murphy, Boyd, and Brindle.
Boland was able to keep McDuffie behind him for the win, while Brindle got by Boyd and Murphy to claim a top five finish.
In preliminary action on Friday night, Boland out-timed the 50-car field with a lap around the 3/8-mile clay oval in 13.615 seconds. The 15-lap heat races were won by Boland, McDuffie, Rainey, and Murphy. The two B-main races on Saturday night were won by Cooley and Lucky Keeton of Toomsuba, MS in the Boland Performance Trak-Star.
The event was delayed two hours on Saturday night by a heavy rain shower that left the track and the pit area a quagmire. Whynot Motorsports Park promoter Rodney Wing and his track crew got both the track and the pit area back into shape to put the show on.
Over $5,000 was collected for the American Cancer Society on Saturday night with race fans bidding for rides with Mike Boland, Jim McDuffie, Lucky Keeton and Rodney Wing in the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series “Ride For Life” two-seat dirt late model race car. Boland’s ride brought a record high bid of $2,500.
The NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Tour returns to action on September 20 at Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, AL and on September 21 at Fort Payne Motor Speedway in Fort Payne, AL.