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Mike Darne and Terry Dease have both won Late Model championships, but none of those have come at Southern National Motorsports Park. On Saturday night, a razor-tight points battle will come to its conclusion with one of the two veterans hoisting the champion’s trophy.
Darne last won a Late Model championship in 2002 at Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, Virginia. Dease has won four track championships at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont with his most recent coming one year ago. As the two drivers enter the final showdown, which features twin races at the Lucama track, Darne currently has the edge by one point over Dease, and seven points over former Caraway Speedway champion Ryan Wilson (who told Race22.com he likely won’t go to Southern National on Saturday).
While a championship is on the line, both drivers are racing for wins.
“I’m going there just like any other weekend,” Darne told Race22.com. “I’m not going to worry about points, I’m going to win both races and if I win both races, I win the championship.”
While Darne has two wins on the season, Dease has yet to win a race at Southern National in 2018.
“I’m going to take it like any other race,” Dease said. “I’m going to run to my ability like I’ve been doing all year and if it falls into place, it falls into place. Both of those guys are tough. Look at Mike, he’s front-runner every week. He’s strong. Ryan, he’s there every week. It’s 1-2-3, most times, that’s who it is.”
Darne has been exceptional at Southern National, not just as a driver but as a crew chief as well. Jonathan Findley won the track championship in 2015, driving for Darne. In 2017, also with the help of Darne, Mason Diaz picked up the title. And now Darne is poised to win a championship both as a driver and as a crew chief to Andrew Grady in the Limited Late Model division.
Despite his success as a driver and crew chief at Southern National, Darne has never contended for a championship at Southern National. However, a championship would be significant for Darne as he is admittedly approaching the final chapters of his driving career.
“Honestly what it would mean to me, it’s no secret that I’m coming to the end of my career soon,” Darne explained. “To get a championship this late in my career would be great for me. To say I won one a long time ago and won one this late in my career. It’s a testament to my team and what our team is doing. If Andrew Grady wins his in Limiteds, we’ve won championships in both premier divisions there, that’s really big for our team.”
Dease has finished second in points at Southern National multiple times throughout his career. The frustrations of coming up just short so many times would make a championship all the more special for the Oxford driver.
“It’d be a good accomplishment, winning the championship, because I’ve finished twice to Deac three times and to Brandon Head once,” Dease commented. “I kind of feel like Mark Martin. As long as we can run well and nobody do any crazy stuff. Just run everybody like we’ve been doing all year. Just trying to set something up for the Thanksgiving Classic too.”
The race for the Southern National Motorsports Park Late Model Stock Car championship will take place on Saturday night with twin 75-lap races. In addition to the on-track racing, Southern National will also hold a 50-50 raffle with proceeds going to help Carteret County Speedway with their rebuilding efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
The green flag will fly on Southern National’s K&N Championship Night at 7 p.m.