rolls to Second Straight Wythe Raceway Pro Late Model
By Robert Walden
RURAL RETREAT, Va. - Sept. 5. Wythe Raceway hosted the Fastrak Racing Series-sanctioned
Seventh annual Pro Late Model Nationals on Sunday, with Kelly Fegter having won the event in 2004,
Shane Roberts in 2005, Lee Cooper in 2006, Kenny Peeples Jr. in 2007, Austin Dillon in 2008, and
Shanon Buckingham coming home victorious in 2009. Could one of the previous winners become the
first to win two Pro Late Model Nationals? Only Buckingham, Peeples and Cooper were entered in the
A strong field of 39 competitors signed-in for qualifying on the monster half-mile. After
winning over the Labor Day holiday weekend last year, Shanon Buckingham of Morristown,
Tenn., kicked the night's action off by setting a new Pro Late Model track record of
18.277-seconds, with David Watts of Buchanan, Va., second quickest at 18.364.
Ron Parker of Lawndale, N.C., won the first heat race over Lee Cooper, Buckingham and Royce Bray.
Winning the second heat was David Watts of Buchanan, Va., over Clinton Cook, David Smith and Chris
Brandon Umberger of Rural Retreat, Va., held off Vic Chandler, Kenny Peeples Jr. and Ryan Atkins
for the victory in the third heat. Jensen Ford of Piney Flats, Tenn., outran Anthony Sanders, Chad
Hale and John Henderson to win the fourth heat.
Doug Sanders of Springwood, N.C., and Tim Byrd of Jonesborough, Tenn., each won B-mains.
Ron Parker jumped into the early lead over David Watts, Brandon Umberger, Lee Cooper and Jensen Ford. But
Buckingham from his ninth starting spot was on the move early, getting around Ford for fifth on lap 4
racing off turn two. Just ahead of Buckingham and Ford, Cooper dove to the inside of Umberger racing into
the third turn to take away third in the running order.
Buckingham disposed of Umberger on lap 9 racing off the fourth turn down the front straightaway to move
into fourth. Between turns three and four on lap 12, Ford got around Umberger to move back into fifth
place. The event's first caution waved on lap 15 for a spin in turn two by Russell Jones.
On the double-file restart, Parker and Watts were in the first row while Cooper and Buckingham lined up in
row two. Back under green, racing off turn two Watts moved past Parker to momentarily take the lead. Racing
down the backstretch into turn three, just behind Watts, Parker, Cooper, Buckingham and Ford, Umberger
looped his mount between turns three and four to stack the field up behind him forcing drivers to take
With a lap not having been completed the field reverted to the previous lineup, though Umberger was
relegated to rear of the field for having brought the caution out. It appeared a case of "yellow
fever" was breaking out, as only one lap back under green and the caution waved once again when Royce Bray
slowed high between turns three and four with a flat tire.
Attempting another double-file restart on lap 16, Parker chose the outside of row one and Watts
surprised people by electing to start behind Parker on outside of the second row. Buckingham moved to
the inside of Parker on the front row. Back under green Parker assumed the lead with Watts running in
second followed by Buckingham.
Parker, Watts and Buckingham pulled out ahead of Ford and Clinton Cook by 10 car lengths on lap 20.
Buckingham got around Watts for the runner-up spot on lap 21 racing off the fourth turn. With a strong run
down the front straightaway into the firs turn, Buckingham dropped to the inside of Parker to challenge for
the lead. The duo raced side-by-side for three circuits before Buckingham powered into a lead he would
never relinquish on lap 24 as he and Parker raced off turn two.
The top five in the running order 30 laps in had Buckingham riding out front with a comfortable lead over
Parker, Watts, Cook and Ford. Even though he was negotiating his way through heavy lap traffic, by lap 40
Buckingham had pulled out to a full-straightaway advantage over Parker and Watts. At the lap 50 stop for a
15-minute break on the front straightaway, where crews were allowed to make changes on the cars and also to
add fuel, Buckingham had lapped up to the 16th-place car of Steve Cooke.
Buckingham and Parker led the field back to green following the break for the final 25 lap run to the
checkers from the front row, with Watts and Ford occupying the second row. While Buckingham hammered the
throttle and jumped out ahead of Parker, Vic Chandler brought the chilled crowd to their feet on a cold
night with a bold move to make it three-wide racing off into turn one with Watts and Ford.
Parker drifted up the banking to open the door for Watts to move into second, and Chandler stayed hard in
the gas to overtake both Ford and Parker to settle into third in the running order. With the race running
"clean and green" over the final 25 circuits, Buckingham, driving the Rusty Wallace Toyota of
Morristown/S&S Millwright/VP Racing Fuels/Bloomquist Race Cars/No. 50 Toyota Camry, showed
everybody he was the class of the field as he easily cruised to the convincing $5,000 victory in the
75-lap feature over Watts, Chandler, Parker and Ford.
Fastrak - Wythe Raceway
Pro Late Model Nationals 1) Shanon Buckingham, 2) David
Watts, 3) Vic Chandler, 4) Ron Parker, 5) Jensen Ford, 6) Clinton Cook, 7)
David Smith, 8) Kenny Peeples, Jr., 9) Anthony Sanders, 10) Royce Bray, 11) Lee
Cooper, 12) Doug Sanders, 13) Tim Byrd, 14) John Henderson, 15) Steve Cooke,
16) Matt Long, 17) Blake Bentley, 18) Ryan Adkins, 19) Brad Smith, 20) Chris
Meadows, 21) Chris Steele, 22) Chris Cantrell, 23) Dale Ball, 24) Chad Hale,
25) Brandon Umberger, 26) Michael Smith, 27) John Broce, Jr., 28) John King II,
29) Owen Osteen, 30) Russell Jones, 31) Jake Eaton, 32) Lance
Reynolds Heat winners: Parker, Watts, Umberger, Ford; B-Main winners: