Merchant Holds Off Dacus Charge For "Gumbo Nationals" Win
GREENVILLE, Miss. - Nov. 6. Kenny Merchant raced to a $5,000 victory in Saturday's fourth annual "Gumbo
Nationals" at Greenville Speedway. The veteran from West Monroe, La. shunned Jack Sullivan's early challenges, then
prevailed in a stand-off with Memphis area ace Dane Dacus for the last half of the race.
The 22 entries found a racing surface that was not entirely gumbo-like, but Merchant found plenty of room
to race on the dry track after launching his #c28 off the front row. Only Sullivan was ableto keep the high
flying Merchant in view during the early going. Sullivan, having planned to end his season the previous week
at Columbus, Mississippi, had decided that he had another race left in him.
With the racing green and fast, Merchant lapped the first car as he completed lap eight, but a slowing car on
the next lap brought the field under its first single file restart. As Merchant leapt back out front, B.J.
Robinson got a good run on Sullivan and briefly passed the Arkansas driver, but Sullivan rallied just in time for
the caution to return so that officials could return an infield tire barrier to its proper position. At that
point, Merchant, Sullivan, and Robinson were trailed in the top five by local champion Greg Fore and Allan
Back under way, Sullivan continued to face a fierce challenge from Robinson while Merchant pounded the high side
of the track until a spinning car brought out the race's third caution on lap 17. By then, 17th starting Dane Dacus
had stormed his way into the top five. Mississippi's Johnny Stokes had looked only slightly
less impressive after driving his Crate-powered #1 into the top ten from 16th.
With the restart, Dacus hit the top side of the track and shot into second as though emerging from the business
end of a cannon, and the battle was on for the next several laps as he and Merchant exchanged the lead. As the pair
re-entered slower traffic, Merchant proved to be just slightly stronger, as he was able to keep Dacus at bay for
the remainder of the race.