MILTON — Four champions were crowned Saturday night at Southern Raceway. Two first-time champions claimed titles after highly contested point battles in the pure stock and vintage division.
Jessica Donaldson, who claimed the pure stock title, had a rough night during her coronation. While leading the season finale, the 22-year-old from Fort Walton Beach spun coming off turn four. When the dust settled, Donaldson and Carl Dodson, who was running in second at the time of the spin, restarted at the back of the field, giving the lead to Lane Heaton, who battled Billy Arnett the rest of the feature.
This was just one of seven interruptions to the racing action, which included two red flag situations. One of the red flags involved an accident on lap 12 and involved the cars of Nick Chesser, Stephanie Jaye and Austin Nathey. As the cars were exiting turn four, Jaye’s car turned sideways and struck the front stretch wall. The final caution came out on lap 14 and involved the cars of Henry Bailey, Gueston Rogers, Jake Moore and Donaldson. As the incident occurred coming off turn four, Donaldson had nowhere to go and was collected.
When the checkered flag dropped, Billy Arnett took the flag followed by Lane Heaton, 2015 champion Bubba Fletcher, Huck Gibson and Chad Robinson. During technical inspection following the race, the cars of Heaton and Gibson were disqualified and the final finishing order was Arnett, Fletcher, Robinson, Dodson and Wayne Plunkett.
The other highly contested points battle was in the vintage series between John Cody and Blake Martin. Cody clinched the title by starting, but that was the high point of his evening as a multi-car crash ended his night.
Ten cautions slowed the race as the feature turned into a game of “Survivor.” On lap nine, a red-yellow situation involving the cars of John Cody and Chris Bayhi occurred. Bayhi would rebound from the mishap and challenge Martin for the lead during numerous starts and restarts.
Then on lap 17, the big one occurred on the backstretch involving cars driven by Wayne Murphy, Tommy Gilmore, Junior Jordan, Kelsey Martin, Levi Plato, Aleck Alford and Cody. Bayhi held on to the lead after the final restart with Martin finishing a close second.
Rounding out the top five were Levi Donaldson, Kraig Crossley and Tommy Gilmore.
Bo Bailey turned the NeSmith Street Stock feature into his own victory parade as he claimed his second consecutive title. Bailey dominated from the drop of the green flag and quickly disposed of Brandon Kilpatrick, who was later involved in an incident on lap 13 while battling in the top five with second-place J.C. Wilson.
On lap 19, two other contenders were eliminated when second-place Frank Wilson was collected by the third-place car of Aaron Huffstutler going into turn one on the last lap. Bailey led the race back to the checkered flag followed by Ricky Haugen, Adam Ellison, Kyle Kichler and Branden Harris.
Due to a strong first half of the season, Ryan Fowler ran away with the Open Wheel Modified title as he did during Saturday night’s feature on the three-eighths-mile dirt.
In a feature that saw three cautions, Fowler checked out and started lapping the field in quick order.
When the checkered flag flew, Lucas Morris finished second followed by Johnathon Joiner, Osman Jones and Shawn Pitts.