Jesse Dutilly pulled into victory lane at 4-17 Southern Speedway (FL) Saturday night, but didn’t make any friends on his way there.
Starting 12th on the grid after a nine-row inversion, Dutilly quickly, yet methodically drove into the top five in the first 20 laps alongside rival drivers George Gorham, Jr. and Michael Atwell. It was on a lap 22 restart that the action picked up between them.
Gorham took over the lead from Scott Walters on the restart with Dutilly and Atwell following suit. The three drivers battled hard for the next 10 laps, swapping positions in every corner, until Dutilly kicked Gorham sideways going into turn three on lap 40. Two laps later, Gorham retaliated by spinning Dutilly across the frontstretch.
“Jesse thinks it’s okay to pick people up going down the straightaway every week. He gets behind me, I give him a lane, and he just picks me up, and he just picks me up going down the straightaway every time I’m out front,” Gorham told Speed51.com after the race. “If he wants to drive like that, I don’t like playing those kinds of games, but if he wants to play them games, we’ll play them games.”
With Gorham out of the picture for the next 55 laps, Atwell was the next challenger for Dutilly. That battle reached its climax on lap 95 when Atwell went for a spin in turn four after hard racing with Dutilly.
“I’d get underneath him and he’d come across my nose every lap. It’s tough to race that. It’s definitely not respectful,” Atwell explained in a post-race interview. “I think that if somebody could get to your bumper and could drive off the corner with you then you should give them the lane and race with them instead of cutting across your nose to upset him, but if that’s the way it is going to happen, I guess we gotta go back to the drawing board and think of a way to get past him.”
In his post-race interview, Dutilly defended his victory.
“It was a heck of a battle,” he began. “He (Atwell) brought a new car and it was real quick, so we had to really run for it hard. Our car was better on the top than the bottom. So I had to stay up there and he pretty much leaned on me for about twenty laps on the left rear. It was good, hard short track racing. I’m glad that we could just race and rub a little bit. We raced hard and I’m just glad that we were able to win.”
When asked about his earlier incident with Gorham, Dutilly’s opinion of the incident didn’t align with Gorham’s.
“It was a heck of a race coming through the field, starting shotgun after the full field invert, and battling with George. I don’t know what happened but he got into me and spun me out, but I guess you’ll have that.”
Gorham took advantage of Atwell’s lap 95 spin to pass third-generation racer Dylan Bigley for second. Bigley finished third in a pleasant return to form for the South Florida native.
“Knowing George, we’re good buddies with him, he was going to stick that right front fender in there and if he got alongside me he was going to beat me,” Bigley said. “Probably ten more laps and we would have got back to him, but I’m happy with third with how we’ve been running this whole year and last year. It’s like a win for us, so all I know is we’re catching them.”
For an on-demand replay of Saturday’s Trackside Now coverage, click here.
-Story by Allick Jorgensen, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Sunoco Top Gun Super Six Super Late Model 100 Unofficial Results:
417 Southern Speedway (FL) – March 24, 2018
1 30 Jesse Dutilly
2 03 George Gorham Jr.
3 28 Dylan Bigley
4 37 Michael Goddard
5 51 Michael Atwell
6 50 Jett Noland
7 51X Ritchie Anderson
8 99 Cody Martell
9 5 Joe Boyd
10 8 DJ Hoelzle
11 14 Martin Maresca
12 94 Keith Roggen
13 97 Brian Dorer
14 11 David Weaver
15 13 Scott Walters
16 24 Jamie King
17 14A Jerry Adkins