latemodelamerica.com - July 1 - 171 Speedway
LateModelAmerica.com by Sam Holbrooks

 
 
SUPR: Stuart a Hits "Home" Run as SUPR Returns to 171 Speedway
 
Bryan Wimberley
 
LEESVILLE, La. - July 1. Hometrack driver, Robbie Stuart of DeRidder, La., maked good in the O'Reilly Southern United Professional Racing (SUPR) Series return to 171 Speedway, with a 40-lap, flag-to-flag victory in front of a near capacity crowd Friday. Stuart's win was his fourth overall in the series and his first one since Aprill 2007 at Houston Raceway Park (now Royal Purple Raceway).
 
A lengthy delay for area thunderstorms that produced some dangerous cloud-to-ground lightning, didn't hamper Stuart's momentum as he claimed a starting spot on the front-row. Stuart then raced to a one-second victory over third-starting Kevin Sitton of Baytown, Tex., to collect a $2,000 payday.
 
"I want to thank my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, my wife Stephanie and our two kids, Abigail and Mason. Also thanks to car chief Richard Rougeou, Michael Long and Josh Morgan. They all make it come together for me to do this. This ranks up there with one of the better ones, being right here in front of the home fans and near my house. I had a lot of family and friends coming out to watch tonight and it makes it so much more special to me," Stuart said.
 
"On the start, I was just trying to pace Culp, I got a good jump on him and timed it just right," Stuart added. I passed him going into one and had a car length advantage on him. I knew him (Culp), Sitton, Bagley and a few others were going to be tough, but I knew if I could run my line and not make any mistakes, that we should be okay. When we came up on them lap cars, Lord have mercy, it was tough then! You come up on them (lap cars) and they are running your line, then the flagman is showing them the blue/yellow flag and tells them the leader is approaching, they scattered all over the place! I was like 'oh crap, which way do I go'! You just have to wing it and bonzai, just go off in there. Luckily we made some right decisions passing them and we made it through. It was nail-biting at one time and we almost got sandwiched in, I just went with my gut instinct and went for it."
  
Impressive newcomer, Morgan Bagley of Longview, Tex., claimed third, followed by Timothy Culp of West Monroe, La., and B.J. Robinson rounding out the top five finishers.
 
Stuart beat polesitter Timothy Culp to lead lap one with Sitton, Bagley and Rob Litton giving chase. Sitton was take second from Culp, but a same lap caution for Chad Dupont making contact with the wall, would erase his efforts.  With existing damage from the first caution, Dupont would again hit the wall after contact with Paul Joyner, to bring out a second consecutive yellow.
 
The race would struggle to get going again, when a turn four, two-car incident on lap three brought out yet another caution.
 
On the restart, Stuart resumed the point and began to open up a small advantage in the next several laps. The field started to settle in for a green flag run of 15 laps, as single file ran supreme throughout most of the pack.
 
Sitton again closed and stuck a nose under Culp for second, but Culp fought off the challenge and held his ground. Stuart caught lap traffic on the 11th circuit, which enabled Culp to close within four lengths.
 
Culp looked underneath Stuart for the lead change on lap 14, but he too would be denied. Two laps later, Culp chose the wrong line in negotiating traffic and got shuffled back four positions.
 
Stuart, now trailed by Sitton and Bagley, began feeling the pressure at the halfway mark of the race. Sitton never lost sight of Stuart, but getting around him proved a far more difficult task. Again the field lined up one behind the other, as the laps clicked down to 15 to go.
 
On lap 30, the top five cars had built a full straightaway advantage on sixth-running Rob Litton. Battles began breaking out the final seven laps, as Sitton puts his frontend under the No. 6R car in first. Sitton couldn't make it stick long enough to claim the spot, but two laps later, he was under the gun by Bagley himself.
 
After shutting the door on Bagley, Sitton would make one last attempt to pass Stuart. Like the rest of the times, Stuart fought off the challenge with three to go and would cross the line in front of an applauding crowd, making it well worth the 14-year wait of the return of the O'Reilly SUPR Series to 171 Speedway.
 
Stuart explained, "I knew Kevin (Sitton) was in second because I seen him during one of those cautions and he was up there beside me, but I never saw his nose under green. I couldn't hear him, so therefore I didn't know any pressure was there from him. I knew he (Sitton) likes the bottom, so if I could keep that bottom kind of hemmed in, then I could keep him from getting by me. Kevin is always good around the bottom. There was an instance where one lapped car bottled me up real good and I thought that was going to be it. I went to the high side and just turned it and luckily it stuck. Once I seen the flagman put five fingers up, I said to myself 'Oh, it is on now, it will not be long'!
 
Notes: Stuart's MasterSbilt by Stuckey race car is powered by Collins Engine Works and sponsored by Stuart Timber, Century 21 Steve Delia & Associates, X-Treme Graphics, MavTV and Stuckey Enterprises Racing.
 
* The checkered flag waved on the 30-minute feature at 1:28 am and was slowed by five cautions.
 
* Before claiming the win at 171, Stuart had raced ten times in 2011, with a best series finish of fourth, coming at USA Speedway in Sterlington.
 
* Stuart also claimed an unsanctioned victory in May at the newly re-opened facility in Leesville, over defending series champion Rob Litton.
 
* "I ain't going to say that me testing here, didn't help us, because I believe it did some, but they have put new clay on since the unsanctioned super late model show in May. The new clay didn't change things up too much from that time, but the rain we had before the race really had us worried for a while. I really didn't know how that would effect the track, so we just did what we thought would be right and it worked out really well for us," said Stuart.
 
* Stuart grabbed a win last summer in the only race of the Texas State Late Model Racing Series at 105 Speedway in Cleveland, Texas -that series never materialized and is now defunctional.
 
* Three-time O'Reilly Auto Parts SUPR Series champion, David Ashley, won the only other series visit to 171 Speedway back in August 1997.
 
* B.J. Robinson of Blanchard, La., was the feature's hard charger, going from 10th-to-fifth.
 
* O'Reilly SUPR points leader, Morgan Bagley, increased his points lead by only three points over Timothy Culp, to 201.
 
* Kevin Sitton moves past Allen Tippen of Minden, La., in SUPR points, taking third place by 35 points. Tippen experience a broken tie rod from contact with Culp during the feature and resulted in a 16th place finish.
 
* "We started on the second row inside in the feature and got to second on the first lap, but the caution put us back. Most all of us were nose-to-tail hugging the bottom for a little while, just cruising around the track. Things got interesting when we came up on lap traffic, I don't remember what happened, but we came out of it in second. After that, I pretty much ran behind Stuart the whole race. It seemed like I could catch Stuart, when I was back far enough from him I could get my rhythm and catch him. Once I closed on him and was near, it would mess my rhythm all up for whatever reason. I would have to brake or I wasn't getting in the corner exactly right. He would pull away from me, then I would catch him again," Sitton explained.
 
* "I noticed I could make a move on him (Stuart) coming out of (turn) two, that is when Stuart would get down in the mud and he would shove the nose up across the track. I knew it I was up close enough, then I could probably pass him then. I was just never close enough for that to happen. Once we got into lap traffic, you can't really plan anything, it just kind of happens as you are making laps," added Sitton.
 
* Within the last two weeks, 171 Speedway removed (42) loads of dirt and hauled in (54) loads of red clay dirt, giving the track new turns.
 
* "The track was pretty good, the rain helped the track because whenever a place like this gets slick, it helps the passing situations. Without the rain, I don't think we could have passed lapped cars. There was enough moisture off the bottom to spread it around the surface, we could go on top of the track sometimes to try and passed the traffic. You could swing out and get back down to try to get grip coming off the corner," Sitton said.
 
* Brock Williams of Alexandria, La., returned to a Late Model for the first time this season, driving a freshly wrapped and familiar No. 4x car. The Mike Lowe Race Car that Williams drives, is owned by Horton Racing. Williams, originally from Leesville, started the feature 18th and finished 12th. 
 
* Doug Begnaud of Cypress, Tex., had a battery cable come loose in heat race. After doing some repairs and thinking the issue was resolved, the problem surfaced again for an early feature exit and a 20th place finish.
 
* Derek Perkins of Oakdale, La., blew an engine in hot laps and scratched from the rest of the night's program.  
July 1 - SUPR at 171 Speedway
1) Robbie Stuart, 2) Kevin Sitton, 3) Morgan Bagley, 4) Timothy Culp, 5) B.J. Robinson, 6) Robert Litton, 7) Jody Prince, 8) Jeff Chanler, 9) Curt Lipsey, 10) Michael Jay Brunson, 11) Chris Holley, 12) Brock Williams, 13) Eric Neal, 14) Jim Bryant, 15) Keith Strother, 16) Allen Tippen, 17) Jason Ingalls, 18) Brett Frazier, 19) Paul Joyner, 20) Douglas Begnaud, 21) Chad Dupont, 22) Derek Perkins
Heat winners (22 entries): Sitton, Culp, Stuart

 

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