Submitted by Ted Austad
Photo credits: Frances Hauke
(Senoia, GA – July 2, 2017) Thirty-seven competitors from six states converged on Senoia Raceway this past Saturday to chase after the 20th Annual Michael Head, Jr. Memorial title and $5454 pay day. Two-time defending Super Late Model champion, Clint ‘Cat Daddy’ Smith of Senoia, successfully defended the gumbo clay track by outrunning Whitesburg’s Austin Horton for the victory. It was Smith’s first Southern All-Star Series victory since July of 2009 and his first major touring series Super Late Model win at his hometrack Senoia Raceway. The victory came on a night that the track began to come apart due to the near ten inches of rain that had fallen in the previous six days.
“It’s go time on this kind of condition at all times,” Smith said of the track’s fast, but physical surface. “After I got out front and got a little bit of a lead, there was no way to get into turn one without just killing your race car. All this rain, these torrential downpours every day, hats off to (co-promoter and track prep guru) Doug Stevens just to give us a racetrack that we could race on tonight at all. And to finally get a big win here, I’ve always been no good in big shows, so glad to get it done tonight!”
Other winners on Saturday night included Hampton’s Mark Newton in the Mini Stock; Dunie Dillard of Phenix City, AL in the Bomber and Griffin’s John Holcomb in the Hobby Stock. Unfortunately, feature races for the Limited Late Models, Crate Late Models, Late Model Sportsman and Hot Shots were postponed to Saturday, July 8th due to the deteriorating track conditions and curfew.
Current Southern All-Stars point leader Austin Horton shot past pole-sitter Michael Page at the initial drop of the green for the Michael Head, Jr. Memorial race. Page fought valiantly to try and wrestle it back from the budding young talent, but the track conditions entering each of the corners upset his car too much allowing Horton to pull out to a good lead.
Clint Smith maneuvered the growing ruts in turn one and turn three to find a unique path and more speed as he shot past Page and into third by lap twelve. He then began his assault on Horton’s lead and looked to have secured it just before the halfway mark only to lose it back due to a caution for a slowed race car.
It was shortly after the restart that Smith used an nifty inside to outside move to inch past Horton and then slid his ride in front of him exiting the fourth turn to snatch any momentum for the repass. The four-time Southern All-Stars champion Smith, then built upon a lead that he would never relinquish capturing the checkered flag over Horton and McDonough’s Cody King. Florida’s Ivedent Lloyd ran fourth ahead of Moultrie’s Tristan Sealy in fifth. Only six cars finished the race that saw two dozen take the initial green flag.
The Michael Head, Jr. Memorial victory was an emotional one for Smith as his family and the Head family remain close and he considers Mike Head, Sr. one of his heroes.
Honoring the Head family was evident throughout the night with many tributes to the fallen son of a multi-time Senoia Raceway track champion, Southern All-Stars champion and Dirt Racing Hall of Famer Mike Head, Sr. Alabama’s Dunie Dillard wrapped his race car to replicate the car driven by Mike Head, Sr. for so many victories. Dillard then drove the car similar to Mike Head, Sr. to victory lane with a hard fought win over Whitesburg’s Derrick Matthews in the Bomber feature.
Matthews looked to be in control of the race until a late race yellow bunched the field and Dillard made a speedy move to the inside to snare the lead position. Dillard went on to record his third win in thirty days while Matthews settled for second ahead of Newnan’s Dorough Bright, Conyer’s Tm Harmon and Alabama’s Abe Chase.
The Hobby Stock main was marred by a number of cautions and then a change in the final rundown due to a pair of disqualifications in post-race tech. After first and second place finishers Ted Willingham of McDonough and Shane Tidwell of Whitesburg were found to be illegal, John Holcomb was awarded the victory. Villa Rica’s ‘Smokin’ Joe Hillman moved from fourth to second while Covington’s Sam ‘Bam’ Carter was elevated to a podium finish in third.
Post-race theatrics stole the show in the Mini Stocks as well as winner Mark ‘Mad Dog’ Newton was protested afterwards. Newton and his crew tore down the four-cylinder power plant and was found to be within the guidelines of the rulebook allowing him to keep his sixth win of the season. Newnan’s Tommy Faulkner forked over the protest money, but would stay in the second place position followed by Stockbridge’s Mike Younginer.
This Saturday, July 8th will see the Bomber division in the spotlight as the annual ‘Bomber Bash’ will take center stage on a night that will be jam-packed with racing action. The make-up races from this past weekend along with racing events for July 8 th will create a twelve feature race night. The track will alter it’s regular nightly schedule to accommodate all the extra racing.
“Doug (Stevens) will continue to monitor this week’s weather,” explained promoter Mayes Massey. “We will announce later this week what time we can get everything started on Saturday night.”
The pit gates are scheduled to open at 4pm, but may open a little earlier. The grandstand gates will be opening at 5pm. Hot laps will begin earlier and will be announced later this week on the track’s website, facebook page and social media. The night’s racing program will follow immediately.
Grandstand tickets for Saturday, July 8th are $12; kids 5-12 are $5; four and under are free. Pit passes and trackside parking passes are $30; kids 5-12 are $20; four and under are free.
Senoia Raceway is located just five miles west of Senoia, GA, on Georgia Highway 16. Easy access from both Interstate 75 and 85.
For additional information, visit the track website at www.senoiaraceway.com or call the speedway at 770.599.6161.
Official Results for Saturday, July 1, 2017
Southern All-Stars Michael Head, Jr. Memorial: 1-Clint Smith, Senoia 2-Austin Horton, Whitesburg 3-Cody King, McDonough 4-Ivedent Lloyd, Ocala, FL 5-Triston Sealy, Moultrie 6-Eric Hickerson, Linden, TN 7-Riley Hickman, Cleveland, TN 8-Michael Page, Winston 9-Landon Bagby, Lithia Springs 10-Dillon Tidmore, Gadsden, AL 11-Todd Morrow, Chattanooga, TN 12-Casey Roberts, Toccoa 13-Bubba Pollard, Senoia 14-Brad Skinner, Spring Hill, TN 15-Ashton Winger, Senoia 16-Matt Perry, Graceville, FL 17-Shane Fulcher, Thomaston 18-Heath Hindman, Chattanooga, TN 19-Dusty Carver, Englewood, TN 20-Tod Darda, LaGrange 21-Dalton Cook, Columbus 22-TJ Reaid, Acworth 23-Jason Fitzgerald, Middleburg, FL 24-Kitt Sealy, Moultrie DNQ for feature: Craig Scott, Newnan; Jordy Nipper, Gray; Kayne Hickman, Cleveland, TN; Mason Massey, Douglasville; Russ Ogletree, Phenix City, AL; Corey Payton, Newnan; James Roulette; Ricky Williams, Fayetteville; Thomas Mewborn, Greenville; Austin Kirkpatrick; John Owenby; Glenn Morris, Fayetteville; Jeremy Faircloth, Swainsboro Fast Qualifier: Horton (13.885 seconds/97.3 mph)
Hobby Stock (Feature): 1-John Holcomb, Griffin 2-Joe Hillman, Villa Rica 3-Sam Carter, Covington 4-Michael Couch, Senoia 5-Larry Bednar, Locust Grove 6-Scott Sherrer, Newnan 7-Griffin Alexander, Locust Grove 8-Randy Renfroe, Seale, AL 9-Mike Jenkins, Brooks 10-Mike Trull 11-Chance Renfroe, Seale, AL DQ: Ted Willingham, McDonough; Shane Tidwell, Whitesburg Fast Qualifier: Jenkins (16.813 – 80.3 mph)
Mini Stock (Feature): 1-Mark Newton, Hampton 2-Tommy Faulkner, Newnan 3-Mike Younginer, Stockbridge 4-Trey Rogers, Villa Rica 5-Johsua Till, Atlanta 6-Scott Morris, Stockbridge 7-Jamie Godbee, Carrollton 8-Cassie Dingler-Still, Newnan 9-Bobby Faulkner, Newnan 10-Jamie Nicholson, Sr., Locust Grove 11-Ray Smith (No transponder) DNS: Jeff Dean Fast Qualifier: Newton (18.168 – 74.3 mph)
Bomber (Feature): 1-Dunie Dillard, Phenix City, AL 2-Derrick Matthews, Whitesburg 3-Dorough Bright, Newnan 4-Tim Harmon, Conyers 5-Abe Chase, Lanett, AL 6-Charlie Garrett, West Point 7-Carley Arnett, Lanett, AL 8-Vern Miller, Newnan 9-Bruce Tidwell, Douglasville 10-Larry Pierce 11-McKenna Nelms, Newnan 12-John Holder, Milner Fast Qualifier: Bright (17.788 – 75.9 mph)
Limited Late Model, Crate Late Model, Late Model Sportsman & Hot Shots features were postponed to Saturday, July 8th due to track conditions and curfew.