NeSmith Chevrolet Racing Series:
Thomas Sets Sail at Penton
PENTON, Ala. – May 20. William Thomas of Phenix
City, Ala. drove the J.W. Miller Land and Timber Special to a wire-to-wire win Friday in the "Spring Nationals
40" for the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Tour at Penton Raceway. Thomas took the lead on lap one
from his outside front row starting spot to post his fifth series career win.
Thomas swept around the outside of polesitter Scott Knowles of
Lanett, Ala. through turn one after the green flag came out, and the winner said that was the key to his
“I knew I had to get a good start to get around the outside of
Scott Knowles at the start because he is quick around here,” Thomas said. “It was a good race track tonight
even though it changed a few times during the race, but my car was good enough that I could race just about
Chase Edge of Lafayette, Ala. highlighted a busy week on
and off the track with a second-place finish in the Edge’s Gas Company Special. The defending NeSmith
Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series Old Man’s Garage (OMG) Champion and the current VP Racing Fuels Rookie of the Year
point leader celebrated his 18th birthday on Monday, got to the
track just in time to qualify for the race after attending his high school graduation with honors earlier in the
evening. Edge then went out and won the first of four eight-lap heats races to earn the fifth starting spot
for the main event.
Two-time series champion David Earl Gentry of Murfreesboro,
Tenn. drove to a third-place finish over Matthew Turner of Dawsonville, Ga. and Albert Cosnahan of Stillmore, Ga.,
and 18th starting Danny Breuer of Troutman, N.C., the Hedman "Hustler of
the Race" award winner. Completing the top ten were Tod Darda, Frank
Wilson, and Jake Teague.
Thomas took the lead at the drop of the green flag
followed by Knowles, but Turner sailed around Knowles for the second spot
on a lap two restart. Knowles’ car sailed up the turn four banking and he dropped to the
seventh spot by the time he gathered it up.
The third caution flag came out on lap eight when Ryan King spun
and collected several other cars. Both King and Jimmy Elkins, Jr. were done for the night.
The field lined up behind Thomas for the restart, putting
the third-place driver Edge to Turner's right on the outside. Edge used that to his advantage and took the
second spot from Turner, while Gentry passed Turner for third on lap ten.
Lawson's race ended with his second spin on lap 19,
and Oliver Gentry sailed off the backstretch on lap 20 to light up the
yellow bulb for the fifth time in the race. Another top ten driver had a problem on lap 23 when Walters
stalled on the front straightaway for the sixth caution period. Stephens spun on the restart, so after the
seventh caution period, series officials waved off the double-file restart.
The field stayed green for another 12 laps, and during that
time, Thomas was able to open up a half-straightaway lead on Edge until Thomas began to encounter lapped
traffic on lap 30. The fourth-place drive Turner had a close call with the lapped car of Mark Tice on lap 35
when they got together on the backstretch.
Turner was able to keep going without losing a spot, but Tice
stopped on the front stretch with a damaged left-rear quarter panel to bring out the eighth and final caution flag
of the race. With the lapped traffic going to the tail of the field for the restart, Thomas had clear race
track in front of him, and pulled away from Edge to post the $2,000 victory.
May 20 - Penton Raceway - NeSmith Racing
1) William Thomas, 2)
Chase Edge, 3) David Earl Gentry, 4) Matthew Turner, 5) Albert Cosnahan, 6) Danny
Breuer, 7) Tod Darda, 8) Frank Wilson, 9) Jake Teague, 10) Doug Stephens, 11) Shannon
Lee, 12) Tootie Arnold, 13) Mark Tice, 14) Paul Walters, 15) Rodgerick Dykes, 16) Mark
Rosner, 17) Oliver Gentry, 18) Matt Dooley, 19) Tony Lawson, 20) Steve Cooke, 21) Ryan
King, 22) Jimmy Elkins, Jr., 23) Scott Knowles, 24) Jake Sanders
(28 entries): Knowles (14.606); Heat winners: Edge, Darda, David Earl Gentry, Oliver
Gentry; B-Main winner: Tice.