WAYNESVILLE - Walker Arthur of Forest, VA was within five laps of victory on Friday afternoon at Golden Isles Speedway in Waynesville, GA, but a mechanical issue reared its ugly head and it got away. Walker got even with fate on Saturday night when he drove the Cecil B. Arthur Beef Farms Special to a wire-to-wire win in the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series 50-lap main event.
Even though Arthur led all 50 laps of the Super Bowl of Racing Presented By Rock Auto.com finale at Golden Isles Speedway, it wasn't a runaway. Mack McCarter of Gatlinburg, TN turned up the wick and put late race pressure on Arthur to the checkered flag.
"This win makes up for the frustration of yesterday afternoon because with the competition in the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series has, this is a very special win in my career," Arthur said. "Mack and I are good friends, and his crew was signaling me that he was coming. At least I knew if it came down to battle at the end of the race, it would be a clean battle because Mack is a friend and a good driver."
McCarter fell a two car lengths short at the end and had to settle for second, which was his career best with the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. With drivers counting their best two out of three point totals for the weekend, the two friends Arthur and McCarter are now locked in a battle for the series point lead towards the $20,000 championship.
Even though Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC leads the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series point standings after a win and a third-place finish to total 194 points, the Super Late Model pilot will not run the full season. Arthur is second to Cook with 192 points, and McCarter is third with 188 points.
Chase Edge of LaFayette, AL charged from the 16th starting spot and drove to a third-place finish. Mark Whitener of Middleburg, FL literally and figuratively turned the race upside-down to finish fourth.
Whitener was involved in a multi-car tangle in turn two on a lap five restart, and flipped his race car in the melee. After the car landed on its wheels, Whitener fired it up, and drove away to line up for the restart.
Josh Adkins of Talladega, AL finished fifth and Ben Faircloth of Swainsboro, GA was sixth. Robert Diekemper of Bloomingdale, GA drove to a seventh-place finish and Chris Noah of Rainbow City, AL was the Rookie of the Race after an eighth-place effort.
Cecil Eunice of Blackshear, GA finished ninth as Donald Brasher of Burlington, NC rounded out the top ten. In preliminary action, Joey Coulter of Concord, NC was the fast qualifier among the 36 entrants with a lap around the 4/10-mile clay oval in 16.848 seconds in the Wolfpack Racing Rocket.
The two 12-lap B-Main Races were won by the two drivers that won main events at Golden Isles Speedway on Friday. Cook, after winning the Friday afternoon show, drove to the win in the first B-Main on Saturday night, and the Friday night winner Jason Fitzgerald of Middleburg, FL won the second B-Main.
When the field went green to start the race, Arthur raced around the outside of the polesitter Coulter to take the down the backstretch. Arthur and Coulter were followed by Jeremy Faircloth of Swainsboro, GA, McCarter and Adkins.
Jeremy Faircloth moved up to challenge Coulter for second by lap five, but that battle was slowed by the first of five caution flags when Fitzgerald spun in turn three. Coulter and Jeremy Faircloth started side-by-side behind the leader Arthur for the "Dixie Style" double-file restart. They didn't waste any time resuming their battle when the green flag came out.
Going into turn one, Jeremy Faircloth put the nose of his race car ahead of Coulter, who was on the inside. Jeremy Faircloth began to lean on Coulter in turn two, forcing him down into the soft dirt at the bottom of the track. That caused Coulter to lose control, spin and slide up the track in front of oncoming traffic.
That made for a huge pile-up that saw Whitener flip over the top of two other race cars. When the dust settled, Whitener drove away, but three top ten cars were out of the race. Chase Washington of Houlka, MS, two-time series Champion David Earl Gentry of Murfreesboro, TN and Steven Roberts of Jesup, GA were done for the night.
The field went back to green flag action for five more laps until the third caution flag came out on lap 11 when the defending NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Champion Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, TN spun with an assist from Brasher coming off the fourth turn.
Brasher was ticketed with the caution, and Johnson got his spot back for the restart. Arthur led Jeremy Faircloth, McCarter, Adkins, Whitener, Edge, Noah, Diekemper, Ben Faircloth of Swainsboro, GA and Cook down to the green flag for the restart.
The top ten remained the same through lap 24 with a couple of position changes when the yellow caution bulb was lit up for the fourth time after Brent Barrett of Cleveland, MS lost power and stalled on the backstretch. The Dixie Style double-file restart had Arthur leading Jeremy Faircloth, McCarter, Adkins, Edge, Whitener, Noah, Ben Faircloth, Diekemper and Cook.
Edge continued his charge to the front of the pack on the restart, as he got around Adkins for the fourth spot, but his progress to chase down McCarter for third was slowed by the final caution flag of the race on lap 27 when Hunter Carter of Blackshear, GA slowed to a stop in turn four.
During the caution period, Jeremy Faircloth slowed on the front straightaway and stopped. Something broke on his race car, as gave up the second spot and had to be towed to the pit area. With Arthur leading McCarter, Edge, Adkins, Whitener, Ben Faircloth, Diekemper, Cook and Johnson to the green flag, business picked up for position changes after the restart.
Edge was able to nose ahead of McCarter for second, and Whitener got around Adkins for the fourth spot. McCarter then got back around Edge for second on lap 29. By lap 35, Arthur had built up a half straightaway lead over McCarter with Edge, Whitener, Adkins, Ben Faircloth, Diekemper, Cook, Noah, and Eunice running third through tenth respectively.
With ten laps to go, McCarter had a full straightaway advantage over Edge in the third spot, and was focused on the leader Arthur. McCarter was chipping away at Arthur's lead in the closing laps of the race, and closed to within a car length when the white flag signaled the final lap of the race. The battle of the friends never took place, as Arthur kept McCarter behind him to the checkered flag.
NeSmith Dirt Late Model Series
Golden Isles Speedway