Courtesy of Senoia Raceway
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 a $5,454 payday.
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 nearly 10 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-superintendent) 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, Ala. in the Bomber and Griffin’s John Holcomb in the Hobby Stock. Feature races for the Limited Late Models, Crate Late Models, Late Model Sportsman and Hot Shots were postponed to July 8 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 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 inside-to-outside move to inch past Horton and then slide 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 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 30 days while Matthews settled for second ahead of Newnan’s Dorough Bright, Conyers’ Tim 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 afterward. 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.
July 8 will see the Bomber division in the spotlight as the annual Bomber Bash will take center stage. The make-up races from this past weekend along with racing events for July 8 will create a 12-feature race night. The track will alter its 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 4 p.m., but may open a little earlier. The grandstand gates will be opening at 5 p.m. Hot laps will begin earlier and will be announced later this week on the track’s website and social media. The night’s racing program will follow immediately.