03/29/05 — Clark outlasts local racers at Southern National

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Clark outlasts local racers at Southern National

Published in Sports on March 29, 2005 1:46 PM

KENLY -- Once in a while, a walk on the wild side isn't such a bad idea.

At least not for David Clark.

The Lucama resident decided to utilize a few unorthodox methods in tinkering with his racer in preparations for the 60-lap, Late Model Sportsman's feature at Southern National Speedway.

Those methods produced a flag-to-flag triumph in the season-opening W. M. Lamm & Sons 270 on the high-banked, 0.4-mile asphalt oval located on Newsome Mill road.

Clark's victory highlighted an exciting evening of racing action that saw Brandon Head of Goldsboro rally past former track champion Jamey Caudill of Four Oaks in roaring to the co-headlining, 60-lap Late Model Stock feature.

Also claiming victories were John Whaley of Goldsboro in Super Street, Doug Barefoot of Four Oaks in Four Cylinders, and Greg Barnette of Stantonsburg in Street Stock.

Clark's triumph was impressive as he took the point from the drop of the green flag, out-racing defending points champion John Batten of Nashville on the first pass of the start-finish line. Over the next two laps, Clark extended his advantage to one-half of a straight, approximately six car lengths.

By the end of the fifth cycle, Clark's cushion had increased to a full straight. From that point on, the race was for second place.

Only over the final five laps did the race appear to become interesting, as Bob Ward of Raleigh, who started seventh, closed to within five car lengths of the leader.

Clark admitted to coasting over the final laps to save his tires for next week?s feature.

"We kind of tried some off-the-wall stuff," Clark said. From the looks of things, it worked out pretty good."

Impressed with the performance of his ride, Clark admitted he was a little surprised.

"I know we qualified good and and were pretty good in practice," Clark said. "But I didn't know what we would do in a long run ? it wasn?t too bad."

Also impressed with his car's performance was Ward -- who crashed during qualifying and settled for a seventh-place position in the starting grid.

Ward systematically picked off one competitor after another while attempting to chase down Clark.

"We didn't find any extra horsepower," Ward said. "When we qualifried, we hit the wall. We had a car that was good enough to put on the pole and lead every lap. I just wish we could have gotten a caution to give us a real chance."

Batten finished third, followed by Bradley McCaskill of Knightdale and John Floars of Goldsboro, respectively.

Head, who inherited the ride of the Jesse Bogue-owned vehicle for the final three races of the 2004 season, rallied from a sixth-place start to take his first career victory in the track's premier division. He overcame race leader Jamey Caudill of Four Oaks on the second turn of Lap 50 for the point and never relinquished the position over the final ten circuits.

"This is an awesome team," Head said, giving credit to the entire crew. "They've deserved this for a long time."

Caudill had become the third leader of the race on Lap 22 when a collision between Kirk Leone of Raleigh and Craig Moore in Turns 3 and 4 scrambled the field.

Mark Howell of Pikeville used an inversion of the top four qualifying cars to sit on the pole and hold the lead over the first four laps with Leone close behind.

Leone claimed the point at the start-finish line of the fourth lap, and immediately found Oxford's Terry Dease in hot pursuit.

Dease took over the point one lap later, but surrendered the point in turn four of the 21st cycle, when he was involved in a five-car collision initated by lapped traffic.

Leone inherited the point, with Chris Moore making a move on the re-start to take the position. The duo tangled in Turns 3 and 4 of the 22nd lap, giving the point to Caudill after the field was adjusted during the lengthy caution.

Caudill then held off Head over the next 28 laps before mechanical problems set in and Head roared by with the wining pass.

"We're just glad to come out of here with a second-place finish," Caudill said. "We're just a little bit behind in getting ready -- we worked on the car until 4 a.m. to be able to race tonight."

Completing the Top 5 were Stephen Rhodes of Goldsboro, Keith Smith of Goldsboro and Scott Wise of Benson, respectively.

John Whaley overcame a pre-race inversion to take the initial race of the season, rolling to victory in the 35-lap Super Street feature.

Whaley roared into the point on the sixth lap, blowing past inverted pole-sitter and then pace-setter Perry Bauer of Clayton.

Once in front, Whaley pulled away from the 13-car field, with only defending points champion Ron Langley of Elm City and Bauer within striking distance.

Despite six cautions that slowed the feature, Whaley managed to build leads of one-half of a straight .before the yellow flags would draw the field back together.

Completing the top five finishers were Bauer, Dirk Danielson of Goldsboro, Stacy Wood of Benson and Chance Carpenter of Sanford, respectively.

Barefoot "never gave up" in his quest to overtake race leader Lee Kozikowski in claiming the season's inaugural Four Cylinders feature.

The 2004 points champion, finally found enough running room to motor past Kosikowski on the forst two turns of Lap 34, then held off Kozikowski in the final six turns to claim the opening-night win.

"It was a game of cat-and-mouse," Barefoot said. "There ain?t no way it could have held me back."

Barefoot said he could have gotten by alittle earlier, but "tried not to run into him, and had to pinch the car to the low side of the track."

Rouding out the top fivefinsihers were Rick Mitchell of Kenly, Adam Strickland of Dunn and Greg Whitley of Wendell.

Barnett took advantage of a broken crankshaft by La Grange's Junior Mewborn to take the point on the second turn, then held off Grantham?s Terry Lancaster in the final laps to pick up the victory.

Andy Carter finished third, followed by Duane Walker of Grimesland and Marc Rose of Goldsboro.