Tyler Hughes (8) and Mason Diaz (24) battle for the lead on the last lap of the first Late Model duel at Southern National Motorsports Park on Sunday.
Zach Evans | Speed51.com
By Andy Marquis
Southern National Motorsports Park
LUCAMA — Tyler Hughes held off Mason Diaz in a photo finish in the first of two Late Model races while Tim Allensworth survived a wild race to score the victory in the second race at Southern National Motorsports Park on Sunday.
Hughes dominated the first of the two thrilling 40 lap duels, but Mason Diaz ran him down in the closing stages of the race. Diaz tried to get around in the final laps through a variety of methods, but Hughes kept shutting the door and survived one last run from Diaz on the final lap to score the win in a photofinish.
“I don’t mind the rubbing, that was some good racing,” Hughes remarked. “I tried to stay out front, two car-lengths and keep that distance and save my tires a little bit for race two. Mason did a good job trying to put the pressure on to take the win. I’m glad I was able to hold him off.”
The victory was much needed for Hughes after some hard luck at Myrtle Beach Speedway and South Boston Speedway in recent weeks.
“I was really looking for a win to get this season going and get some momentum,” Hughes continued. “Hopefully this applies momentum for the rest of the year and keeps it going and keeps the wins coming.”
Diaz was content with his second place finish, which was followed up by a third-place effort in the second race.
“I raced him clean, he raced me clean the whole race,” Diaz stated. “There were a couple times there I probably could have drove it in there and got by. The car’s in one piece and second place for the first race this season. I’m happy with it.”
2015 Southern National Motorsports Park track champion Jonathan Findley dominated the second race and appeared to be on his way to victory, until Louis White caught him in the closing laps. With five laps to go, Findley wrecked off the front bumper of White in a crash that collected Tyler Hughes in turn one.
Findley was miffed after the incident.
“Typical Louis, you know,” Findley said. “We were racing and, flat out, I was outdriving him. He caught me quick, you know. I outdrove him pretty much. Kept maintained once he got to my back bumper and, you know, I guess he decided he had to wreck an 18-year-old kid to get the win but clearly that didn’t happen either. We’ll have a chat and maybe he’ll get payback here soon.”
White, who was penalized for the contact with Findley, said the wreck took place because Findley brake-checked him entering turn one.
“[Findley] brake checked me,” White retorted. “If he was outdriving me, how did I catch him from a half straightaway down? If I wanted to wreck him, I could have done that a lap or two before that. I didn’t, I backed up and got a run on him and he ran me down the straightaway and got in the corner and threw on the brakes and brake checked me. I hit him and let off and he threw on the brakes again. That’s why his car got messed up, because he brake checked me.”
Tim Allensworth inherited the lead when White was sent to the rear for avoidable contact and held off Chris Chapman to score the win – his first Southern National Motorsports Park feature win in a Late Model.
“Better lucky than good,” Allensworth explained. “We did have to deal with those guys. Everybody was pushing on the rear bumper in the corners. We outlasted them and move on. We were setup for the long run. We felt pretty good on the restart. My dad said I was better than the cars behind me and you see what we got.”
Brian Obiedzenski led wire-to-wire score the victory in the first race of the season for the Charger division. However, the battle for the win came down to the last lap as he had to hold off a hard charging Jeremy Bohne in the closing laps.
“Jeremy’s a great guy,” Obiedzenski remarked. “Any time I get to race with him, it’s awesome. He was closing in. If it was 40 laps, he would have been the winner. We got the setup right. Big thanks to John West Engines for the power and Deac McCaskill for helping me with the setup. Man, it was a great way to start the season and a great way to honor the great sponsors I have.”
Obiedzenski’s victory launched his pursuit of the Charger division championship at Southern National Motorsports Park.
“We’re looking forward to coming back,” Obiedzenski said. “We’re going to give it everything we have to win the championship and bring it home to Franklinton.”
Another photo finish took place in the Bandolero division when Ethan Johnson, aided by the lapped car of Kaleb Bradley, passed Cameron Murray on the frontstretch to score the win.
“I just thought that, when he went to go around lapped traffic, that it would slow his momentum down,” Johnson explained. “So I took the gutsy move and went to the bottom and had half my car on the apron. I was just trying to keep the car down there. It came right to the wire and I’m glad we pulled it off.”
Ronnie “Buckshot” Jones passed PJ Flowers on the final lap of the Mini Stock race to take the lead and the win while Tommy Jackson, Jr. dominated the Legend Car feature to score the victory.
Racing returns to Southern National Motorsports Park on April 8 when the Southern Modified Racing Series (SRMS) invades for a 125-lap shootout on a Saturday night. The race will also feature twin Late Model races as well as racing for the Chargers, Mini Stocks, Legends and Bandoleros.