MILTON — Southern Raceway crowned six champions Saturday in what was a competitive night of racing action on the three-eighths-mile dirt.
Two of those six championships came down to the final point’s race of the season, which added to the drama.
OPEN-WHEELED MODIFIED DIVISION
One of the hotly contested races was in the Open-Wheeled Modified Division, where Joe Phillips entered the night’s action with a two-point advantage over Lucas Morris.
With the lineup based on points, Phillips and Morris started the feature side by side and Phillips won the race into turn one. Both drivers drove their cars to the edge for the first five laps until the car of Shawn Pitts brought out the first caution.
The subsequent restart proved how badly Morris wanted the win, and the 2017 title, as he entered turn one too fast and started an eight-car pileup. But Morris wasn’t done, despite having to restart at the back of the field.
Morris worked his way through the field until lap 12, when he spun on his own and, on lap 17 of the 25-lap feature, he brought out the caution again due to a spin in turn two. Unfortunately, for Morris, his night ended due to the two-spin rule, thus ending his hopes for the 2017 Open-Wheeled Modified title.
Phillips led all 25 laps to claim his seventh win of the season. Tyler Allen worked his way up to second followed by Nathan Ingersoll, Ryan Fowler, and Kyle Kichler to round out the top five.
The second title being contested was in the Stinger Division.
Timothy Witherington and Charles Simmons entered Saturday night’s action separated by eight points. When the green flag dropped, Witherington took the lead, followed closely by Simmons.
On lap three, Simmons took the lead followed by Robert Wolfe, as Witherington drifted high coming off turn number two. Then on lap 11, Wolfe and Witherington got together, sending both drivers to the back of the field and giving Simmons the points lead shortly.
However, in the next seven laps, Wolf and Witherington worked their way back through the field while Simmons claimed his fourth win of the season.
Wolfe finished second followed by Witherington, who won the title. Hunter Lewis finished fourth, while Jackson Lynchard came home fifth.
FINISHING THE SEASON
The other division titles were decided before the start of the race, but each class had drivers wanting to finish the 2017 season on a high note.
Blake Martin, who raced with a heavy heart following the loss of his father David, completed his championship season with a drama-filled race.
After starting from the pole, Martin was in a battle with Hunter Ward and Kraig Crossley.
On lap nine, Kelsey Martin, Blake’s sister, brought out a caution for a spin on the back stretch and Blake Martin exited the track with a flat tire.
After returning to the track, Blake Martin powered his way through the field and back to second place as he tried to chase down the car of Crossley to take the checkered flag for his third win of the season.
Blake Martin finished second, followed by Ward, Tommy Gilmore and Kelsey Martin to round out the top five.
In the 602 Sportsman Late Model Division, Johnathan Joiner capped off a strong season with his fifth win on the year.
Joiner took the lead at the drop of the green flag and led J.C. Wilson for most of the 25-lap feature.
The only time Joiner was challenged was following caution flags.
Chris Bayhi managed to rally and finish second followed by Wilson, Joe Richbourg and Todd Jones.
In the NeSmith Street Stock, J.C. Wilson won his third feature of the season en route to the 2017 title at Southern.
Wilson led most of the night and was basically unchallenged in a caution-free event.
Frank Wilson, J.C.’s father, finished second, followed by Blake Salakas, Brandon Kilpatrick and Taras Hodvisky, rounding out the top five.
J.C. Wilson, Frank Wilson, and Branden Harris each finished the season with three wins each.
In an action-packed Pure Stock Division feature, Kevin Mitchell led all 27 laps as he claimed his eighth win of the season to go with his season title.
In a race that was filled with 13 caution flags, the battle was to see who finished behind Mitchell who on a couple of occasions had as much as a 12-plus car length lead.
Nick Cuevas survived the overtime to finish second, followed by John Bryant, Dillan Petty and Wayne Plunkett.
This Saturday will be a big night at Southern Raceway as the Southern Outlaw Sprints will take to the track to decide their season championship along with the rookie of the year battle.
Michael Miller currently is enjoying a huge points lead over Kyle Amerson, Tristan Lee and Nick Snyder, who are currently battling it out for second, third, and fourth in the series.
The Pascagoula, Miss., driver has three wins to lead the series and was the last winner back on Sept. 3 at Southern Raceway.
Also, there will be a Dirt Late Model tune-up for the Southern 100 to be held the first weekend of November and two features in the Pure Stock Division.