Elm City, NC – An absolutely gorgeous May afternoon greeted fans and drivers as they filed into the gates of County Line Raceway Saturday. Eighty cars in five divisions of racing were signed in for action, which included the return of the I-95 Late Model Challenge.
The Super Stock Four Cylinder division kicked off the evening’s action with a 20 lap feature. James Manning and Damien Bryant would lead the field to green after winning their respective heat races. The first caution waved on lap number two for the 75 of Michael Hall who spun coming out of turn four. Back green, the crowd was treated to plenty of side by side action until another caution would wave on lap 12 for the 61 of Eric Hill. After returning to green, there was more excitement on lap 14 when points leader Hunter Bailey would spin in turn four nearly collecting the 81 of Jason Horne and 97 of Bill Winstead. Horne and Winstead would avoid the Bailey’s spinning car and retain their positions for the restart. Back under green, the J2 of Manning and 97 of Winstead would make contact, both cars spinning and bringing out another caution. The dash to the finish would see Damien Bryant cross the line first followed by Austin Holcombe, Jason Horne, Hunter Bailey, and John Carroll. A post-race inspection would find the cars of Bryant and Bailey not meeting track specifications resulting in both drivers being disqualified, moving Glenn Bottoms and Manning into the top 5.
The excitement continued when the DRU Auto Sales and Service Pure Stock Four Cylinder division took to the track. Heat race winners Lee Hardie and JP Brantley would lead the field to green, but green flag conditions would be short lived. A caution on lap one waved for the 9 of Elm City’s Michael Webb, who slowed on the track with a flat tire. Webb would head to the pits to change the tire and regain the field before the restart. One lap later, Webb would be involved in another caution, in which his car went airborne on the back straightaway after making contact with the 21 of Allen Kea, whose motor had let go. Both drivers were ok, but would retire to the pits for the evening. Back green, the racing was fierce until another caution on lap 9 for the 33 of Trenton Smith, who took a head-on hit to the frontstretch wall. Smith was ok, but the car suffered heavy damage, and would retire to the pits for the rest of the evening. A six lap dash ended the event which saw JP Brantley take the checkers followed by Robbie Causby, Chris Collins, Jesse Richardson Jr, and Jason Adams rounding out the top five.
Next onto the track would be the exciting Pure Stock V-8 division. Kevin Beard and points leader, Phillip Lamm, would lead the field to green for the start of the 15 lap feature. A spin by the 50 of Paul Peele on the initial start would setup a double file restart. A quick caution waved for the 55 of Glenn Stocks on lap two. Stocks regained the tail of the field and we were back green. As the field got to turn two, we were back under caution as the 5 of Brandon Whitley and the L4 of Amanda Liles made contact sending both cars spinning. Another caution would wave on lap four, again for the 55 of Stocks in turn one, sending him to the pits for the evening. Two other quick cautions slowed the pace before Gary Whitley took the checkers and headed to victory lane. Phillip Lamm settled for second, Joshua Bryant third, Kevin Beard fourth, and Amanda Liles would rebound to round out the top five.
The ARCO Restoration Limited Sportsman division would be the next class out onto the track. Kent Wright and Buddy Isles, Jr won their heat races and led the field to green. Two solo cautions would slow the pace of the 20 lap feature that would see Middlesex’s Matthew Bissette charge from a 6th place starting position to return to victory lane. Points leader Mark Boykin finished second followed by Skeeter Liles, Kent Wright, and Chris Radford rounding out the top five.
The final event of the night, the I-95 Late Model Challenge, featured 24 drivers assembled on the backstretch in preparation of their 35 lap main event. The starting line-up was settled after qualifying was won by Derek Francis with a fast time of 14.897 on the 3/8 mile clay oval, and three heat races were won by Dustin Mitchell, Dean Bowen, and Russell Erwin. Dustin Mitchell and I-95 Late Model Challenge points leader, Dean Bowen, led the field to green. The pace was only slowed once for a quick, single car caution on lap six, for the 29 of Chris Made. Racing was intense and competitive throughout the field and all over the track, two and three wide at times. Dustin Mitchell would hold off all challenges and claimed his first victory of 2015 and the $2500 pay day. Russell Erwin, the 2014 I-95 Late Model Challenge points champion brought home second. Dean Bowen third, Derek Francis fourth, and Michael Batten rounded out the top five.
County Line Raceway returns to action this Saturday night, June 4 with its Kid’s & Graduates Night as we celebrate the end of the school year. Parents…bring the kids out to ride on a racecar at intermission. Graduates…bring a copy of your announcement and a photo id for FREE admission to the grandstands. Pit gates open at 4:00, grandstands at 5:00 and cars hit the track at 7:00. Grandstand admission is $15 for adults, $5 for kids 11-15 and free for children 10 & under. Pit passes are available for $25. For more information visit the track’s website at www.countylineracewaync.com or call the track phone at 252-985-1949.