In the inaugural visit for the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco to the Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, Georgia, it was the series' inaugural champion who prevailed in a fierce, multi-car battle between short track heavyweights.
2013 Southern Super Series titlist and current NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular Daniel Hemric thwarted the challenges of defending NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott to claim his second SSS victory of the season in the Lyle Farms 100 presented by PFC Brakes.
"I hope the fans enjoyed that one," Hemric said in victory lane. "That's what short track racing is all about."
The 3/8-mile D-shaped oval that is the Watermelon Capital Speedway at Crisp Motorsports Park is multi-grooved. Hemric and Elliott, as well as 14-year-old Harrison Burton, used every single one that was available as they battled side-by-side for the lead for what seemed like every single lap in the second half of the race.
The yellow flag waved with 52 laps complete when Dominique Van Wieringen and Logan Boyett got together in turn two and that set up the mad scramble for the second half.
Hemric chose the outside on the restart with Burton on the inside. Anderson Bowen lined up third behind Burton with Elliott right behind Hemric.
Burton appeared to spin the tires on the restart, which allowed Elliott to get alongside Burton off turn two. Elliott powered by into second place in turn three.
Elliott got right behind Hemric and ran in his tire tracks for a few laps before Burton came powering back. Burton got to the inside of Elliott for second where he ran for about five laps. Hemric and Elliott were so close to each other that Burton was inside of both drivers at the same time.
Burton cleared Elliott for second on lap 65 and made his way underneath Hemric for the lead. He ran underneath Hemric for another five laps before Hemric cleared him off turn two. Burton started to fall back a bit after that as Elliott got back by to take over second and Casey Roderick got by to take third.
For the final 25 laps it was the Hemric and Elliott show up front. The NASCAR XFINITY Series champion versus the 2013 Southern Super Series champion. The two drivers worked the outside groove in turns three and four, but they ran different lines in one and two with Hemric still on the outside and Elliott on the inside.
Elliott was able to get underneath Hemric in the center of turns one and two almost every single lap, but he'd lose ground to Hemric off the corner each time. It wouldn't take long for Elliott to get right back to Hemric's back bumper, though, as he would be right there again off turn four.
The best chance Elliott had at getting by Hemric came in turn two with two laps to go when he gave Hemric a tap in the center of the corner, but Hemric once again was able to power his way down the backstretch and away from Elliott.
"I didn't want to wreck him to win this race," Elliott said afterwards. "It was very difficult to pass. It didn't seem like a typical short track race. The high lane was definitely the preferred groove and once Daniel figured that out he just kept moving it up. He moved it up to the point that if you were going to sneak to his outside you'd end up in the dirt. You just weren't going to get by him."
Hemric said he moved to the outside on the restarts because he was too tight to run the bottom, but after a couple laps he quickly realized the outside was the place to be for the rest of the race.
"Once we went out there I was able to keep the momentum going," Hemric said. "Chase and those guys were definitely better than we were. Chase could have easily driven through me there, but he took the high road and we got the win. If he got enough of a run to clear me, he would have been gone."
The next Southern Super Series event will come on Saturday, June 20 at Montgomery Motor Speedway in Montgomery, Alabama.
For more information on the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco head to SouthernSuperSeries.com, and follow the series on Twitter (@SoSuperSeries) and Like it on Facebook (www.facebook.com/southernsuperseries).
Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco
Lyle Farms 100 presented by PFC Brakes
Crisp Motorsports Park, home of Watermelon Capital Speedway
|11||5DW||Dominique Van Wieringen|