NeSmith Racing Series: Stokes Gets First Series Win in Magnolia
COLUMBUS, Miss. – Aug. 1. Johnny Stokes of Columbus, Miss. drove to his first career NeSmith Chevrolet
Dirt Late Model Series victory Sunday at Magnolia Motor Speedway in the 40-lap main event that was one of the most
exciting, hottest races in series history.
Johnny Stokes en route to his win at at
Magnolia Motor Speedway. Brian McLeod photo
Race fans that braved triple digit temperatures were treated to three and four wide racing, as single file
nose-to-tail competition was nowhere to be found on the 3/8-mile clay surface known as “Black Ice.” But that did
nothing to chill the race time temperature of 102 degrees with a heat index of 118 degrees.
It was difficult for those that witnessed the event to keep up with all of the action that was as hot as
the temperature. While the leaders raced three-wide, there was four-wide racing, and even seven-wide racing at one
point, throughout the field.
Stokes held off the defending NeSmith Chevrolet DLMS National Champion and current point leader Eric Cooley of
Fulton, Miss., driving the 78 Towing and Recovery Victory Circle by .196 seconds in a side-by-side finish.
Stokes took the lead on lap 28 after early race leader Justin McRee lost a driveshaft. “J-Mac” had a
big lead before his misfortune, and was the only driver on the track not battling wheel-to-wheel for
Matthew Turner of Dawsonville, Ga. ran up front all night long, and led for three laps early in the race
before having to settle for third at the checkered flag. Stokes, Cooley and Turner spent most of the race
battling three-wide for second, and then for the lead after McRee dropped out.
Stokes ran the high side late in the race with Turner in the middle, and Cooley taking the short way
around on the bottom of the track. Stokes and Cooley broke free of Turner with two laps to go, and Cooley began to
try and set Stokes up for the “slide job” where he would dive to the bottom of the track and then slide up in front
Cooley made an unsuccessful try on lap 39, but got a better run going down the backstretch on lap 40.
Cooley dove to the inside, and appeared to have Stokes cleared coming off the fourth turn to the checkered flag.
Stokes, however, had a lot of momentum coming off the high side of turn four, and stayed alongside Cooley down the
Cooley had to slow his momentum just enough to keep from running into Stokes on his right, and that’s all
Stokes needed to inch ahead at the start-finish line and take the win by less than a half a
“I’m about dead after three straight nights of racing, and traveling back and forth from Greenville to
work on the track here,” an exhausted Stokes said after climbing out of his race car in Victory Lane. Stokes raced
on Friday and Saturday nights in NeSmith Chevrolet DLMS National Touring action at Greenville Speedway in
Greenville, Miss., 150 miles from “The Mag.”
The back-and-forth travel had to do with Stokes’ duties as the Magnolia Motor Speedway promoter and
preparing the racing surface. “Dr. Dirt” prepared a race track that everyone liked, both those driving on it, and
those watching from the grandstands.
NeSmith Racing Series - Magnolia Motor Speedway
1) Johnny Stokes, 2) Eric Cooley, 3)
Matthew Turner, 4) Jamie Tollison, 5) Jeremy Shaw, 6) Chip Brindle, 7) Chris Ragan, 8)
Shannon Lee, 9) Shay Knight, 10) Rodney Wing, 11) Jason Hiett, 12) Larry Harrod, 13)
Jay Burchfield, 14) Evan Ellis, 15) Terrance Nowell, 16) Chase Edge, 17) Mark Tice, 18)
Chris McElhenney, 19) Marcus Minga, 20) Kevin Henderson, 21) Michael Blount, 22) Justin
McRee, 23) Charlie Henderson, 24) Tim Staples
Fast Time (28 entries): Chiip Brindle (15.864 secs.); Heat winners: Shaw, Ragan