Tim Allensworth survived a chaotic 40-lap feature to close out a twinbill at Southern National Motorsports Park for his first career Late Model Stock win at the 0.400-mile North Carolina oval.
“It was definitely rough coming up,” Allensworth told Speed51.com Powered by JEGS in victory lane. “We started on the pole, but got shuffled to about sixth. Coming back up, it was pretty rough. There was a lot of wrecks, a lot of cautions. We ended up being fortunate at the end.”
Allensworth inherited the lead on lap 36 of 40, after an incident between the top two competitors ended their chances at a win.
While battling for the lead, Jonathan Findley and Louis White made contact entering turn one. Findley hit the inside wall near the exit of pit road before going up the track, collecting Tyler Hughes. Track officials penalized White for the incident, sending him to the rear of the field.
Findley expressed his displeasure over the race-ending event.
“Typical Louis. He can’t drive a lick, so I guess he has to wreck people or turn them to get by. It’s just typical him. I’ve raced with him, I’ve passed him clean multiple times. He comes up and hits everyone he goes by.
“My spotter tells me ‘clear by one’ going into the turn. Within two car lengths, he had my rear-end jacked up and never let go until he turned me.”
White’s view of the incident differed.
“I had a faster car. I ran him down from half a lap down and caught him. I could have wrecked him any time I wanted to. I was backing up the corner and getting a run off. We came down the straightaway, he ran me down the straightaway. I checked up and he jammed right on the brakes. When I hit him on the tail end, he jammed right on the brakes again.
“Nothing intentional. That young’un needs to learn how to drive. If my car wasn’t faster than he was, I wouldn’t have run him down.”
Allensworth admitted the physical racing in the second feature occasionally left him agitated, crediting his team with keeping him relaxed en route to the win.
“A good spotter,” Allensworth laughed. “He kept me calm, because I was a little hot under the collar at times.”
Before his involvement in the controversial crash in the second twin, Hughes led every lap of the first 40-lap feature. The win was anything but a Sunday cruise for the Cordova, Maryland native, as Hughes faced intense pressure from Mason Diaz throughout the race, holding off the 16-year-old Diaz over the closing laps.
“It was a little nerve-racking, to be honest,” Hughes said in victory lane after the first feature. “Winning is a lot easier when you don’t have a lot of pressure. He started putting the pressure on, started coming along. He started tapping on me a little bit trying to get by, which I don’t mind. That’s good, hard racing. He did a good job putting the pressure on.”
Hughes qualified on the pole for the race with a time of 15.782 seconds. Diaz qualified third, but quickly passed 2015 Southern National track champion Jonathan Findley for the second spot. Diaz increased the pressure on Hughes throughout the race, but could not get past Hughes for the win.
“I tried my best. His setup parked more in the center than me, so I rolled more in the center,” said Diaz. “He just drove away from me on the straightaways. It was hard for me to get around him. I tried everything I could, I guess I just tried too late.”
Despite the accident in the second feature, Hughes is confident his team can repair the machine and return to the winning ways he showed in the first race.
“This car has always been good to me, it’s really fast. I’m sure with a new front clip it will be right back where it was.”
The next event at Southern National Motorsports Park will be April 8, as the Late Models will again run twin-40 lap features. Headlining that day will be the Southern Modified Racing Series, hosting a 125-lap feature in their fourth round of a 12-race schedule.
Race fans can find on-demand coverage of Sunday’s NWAAS season opener at Southern National by visiting Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage: http://speed51.com/trackside-now-nwaas-late-model-opener-at-southern-natl/
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
LMSC Race #1 Unofficial Results
LMSC Race #2 Unofficial Results