One of the most amazing last lap charges in the half century history of Senoia Raceway took place on Saturday night as 15-year-old Conner Leoffler made a determined and daring last-lap pass of race-leader Kyle Amerson and second place running Justin Barger down the back stretch on the final lap of the Senoia Summer Nationals XI Sprint Car feature.
The South Carolina youngster used the top side of the race track to shoot past the top two drivers at over 100 miles per hour entering turn three. He kept his foot on the floorboard with only inches separating his right rear tire and the exterior concrete wall narrowly beating Amerson across the finish line in front of the large crowd on hand for the annual special event.
“I had some good momentum over those last few laps and had only one way to try and win it,” said Loeffler on the front stretch afterwards. “I saw the lapped cars and was hoping they would get slowed up enough for me to get a chance.”
Alabama’s Kyle Amerson held off a strong challenge for the lead position by North Carolina’s Justin Barger during the middle part of the race, but had pulled away to what he believed would be enough. Lapped traffic with four laps remaining allowed for Barger to close the gap while Loeffler also found it to his advantage coming from nearly six seconds behind the leaders.
Amerson was down on the lowside with Barger trying to gain position when slower traffic bottlenecked the race for the checkers. That situation created the opportunity for Loeffler to complete the final lap theatrics and place his name in the track’s history books becoming the seventh different winner of the USCS Sprint Car Series annual trek to Senoia Raceway.
In the Limited Late Model ‘Gray Gumbo Classic’, Fayetteville’s Glenn Morris qualified on the pole for the first time in five years. The two-time track champion jumped out to the early lead holding off Senoia’s four-time track champion Clint Smith through several challenges.
Whitesburg’s Austin Horton used the lowside of the track to work past Smith on lap seven before going to work on Morris. Horton peaked to the inside of Morris getting into his head and forcing a small mistake in turn two which allowed Horton to shoot past and into the lead. Morris' slide continued a couple of laps later when Smith finally wrestled away a position from him.
A late race charge by Colbert’s Kenny Collins fell short as Horton picked up the $2,000 pay day keeping Collins in the runner-up spot. Smith ended up third ahead of Morris and Newnan’s Oliver Gentry.
A scary crash with only a few laps collected season points leader Dennis Hale as he slammed into a slowing Curtis Cline who lost power just before the flagstand. Hale and Cline’s collision sent Cline’s mount around and then he was launched by Cartersville Jacques Daniel when the two hit head-on. The drivers were not injured in the accident.
Wiley McDaniel and his younger brother Brandon McDaniel battled back and forth for the Late Model Sportsman lead before the elder McDaniel moved safely out front on lap 14. Wiley was working the highside of the track doing his best to avoid a large hole that developed in the track’s third turn while Brandon was hugging the inside wall.
Other winners on Saturday night included Keith West of Powder Springs in the Hobby; Dustin Smith of Senoia in the Bombers; Alabama’s Jeff Dean in the Mini Stock and Oxford’s Dawson Martin in the Chargers. Marietta’s Rick Ricks piloted his newly lit up Hot Shot to the winner’s circle. Rick's car was lit up by LED lights in the shape of a shark.
“I like the shark car,” said eight-year-old Payton Gray of Griffin.
Senoia Raceway will host their final points race of the season on Saturday, September 12th. All of their weekly divisions will be racing and all season titles will be decided. Racing in the Limited Late Models, Crate Late Models, Late Model Sportsman, Chargers, Hobby, Bomber, Mini Stock and Hot Shots will begin at 7:30pm.
Tickets are $15 with kids ages twelve and under admitted to the grandstand for free. Pit passes are $30; kids 6-12 are $20 and five and under free. The pits will open at 4pm and grandstands at 5pm. Hot laps and qualifying begin at 7pm with racing at 7:30pm.
For more information on these race events and more, visit the track website at www.senoiaraceway.com. Information is also available on the track’s Facebook page, their Twitter feed and Instagram shares. You can also call the speedway at 770.599.6161.
Official Results – Saturday, August 30, 2020
USCS Sprint Cars (Feature): 1-Connor Loeffler, Myrtle Beach, SC 2-Justin Barger, Cornelius, NC 3-Kyle Amerson, Montgomery, AL 4-Mark Ruel Jr, Jacksonville, FL 5-Danny Smith, Chillicothe, OH 6- Matt Kurtz, Jacksonville Brach, FL 7-Lance Moss, Cherryville, NC 8-Terry Gray, Bartlett, TN 9-Danny Oliver, Pendergrass 10-Mallie Shuster, Newville, PA 11-Jeff Willingham, Ripley, MS 12-Jim Shuster, Newville, PA 13-Brian Thomas, Pendegrass 14-Joe Larkin, Suwanee 15-Danny Burke, Crosby, TX 16-Jake Karklin, Waxshaw, NC 17-AJ Maddox, Tampa, FL Heat Race Winners: Amerson & Ruel, Jr Fast Dash Winner: Gray
Limited Late Models (Feature): 1-Austin Horton, Whitesburg 2-Kenny Collins, Cobert 3-Clint Smith, Senoia 4-Glenn Morris, Fayetteville 5-Oliver Gentry, Newnan 6-Marty Lunsford, Newnan 7-Dustin Elliott, Pine Mountain 8-Thomas Mewborn, Greenville 9-Curtis Cline, Dallas 10-Dennis Hale, LaGrange 11-Jacques Daniel, Cartersville 12-Cass Fowler, Acworth 13-Jamie Carr, LaGrange 14-Rucker Orr, Newnan DNS: Chad Duncan, Newnan Fast Qualifier: Morris (15.275 seconds / 88.4 mph)
Late Model Sportsman (Feature): 1-Wiley McDaniel, Byron 2-Brandon McDaniel, Macon 3-Jamie Nicholson, Jr., Locust Grove 4-Payton Stevenson, Locust Grove 5-Morgan Alexander, Locust Grove 6-Braxton Barber, Valley, AL 7-Jason Turner, McDonough 8-Connor Younginer, Locust Grove 9-Jack Mills, Griffin 10-Ricky Payton, Newnan 11-Mike Weed, Franklin Fast Qualifier: Brandon McDaniel (15.914 seconds / 84.9 mph)
Chargers (Feature): 1-Dawson Martin, Oxford 2-Jamie Godbee, Carrollton 3-Ted Willingham, McDomough 4-Cody Lively, Locust Grove 5-Shane Tidwell, Whitesburg 6-Johnny Stinchcomb, Newnan 7-Olivia Gentry, Newnan 8-Landon Frix, Newnan 9-Jack Smith, McDonough 10-Shawn Heath 11-Jimmy Baxter, Jr., Newnan 12-Jesse Pitt, Stockbridge 13-Josh Scott, Jackson Fast Qualifier: Godbee (16.356 seconds / 82.5 mph)
Hobby (Feature): 1-Keith West, Powder Springs 2-Tim Harmon, Mansfield 3-Joe Hillman, Villa Rica 4-Ben Wells, Milner 5-Jason Floyd, Cochran 6-TJ Joiner, Lithia Springs 7-James Swanger, Whitesburg 8-Michael Thomas, Whitesburg 9-Brandon Jones, Newnan 10-Greg Thomas, Whitesburg 11-Landon DeGraff, Barnesville DNS: Jr Hardy, Covington Fast Qualifier: Swanger (16.819 / 80.3 mph)
Bomber (Feature): 1-Dustin Smith, Senoia 2-William Blair, Whitesburg 3-Jr Hardy, Covington 4-Curtis Turner, Brooks 5-Craig Boozer, Jenkinsburg 6-David Jackson, Whitesburg 7-Ricky Neil, Whitesburg 8-Morgan Pittman, Grantville 9-Chad Foster, Griffin Fast Qualifier: Smith (17.998 seconds / 75.0 mph)
Mini Stock (Feature): 1-Jeff Dean, Helena, AL 2-David Brackett, Temple 3-Bobby Faulkner, Newnan 4-Jeremy Millsaps, Canton 5-Jamie Pritchett, Canton 6-Justin Brackett, Temple 7-Tommy Faulkner, Newnan 8-Bo Chambers, Griffin 9-Travis Harris, Palmetto Fast Qualifier: Tommy Faulkner (18.289 seconds / 73.8 mph)
Hot Shots (Feature): 1-Rick Ricks, Marietta 2-Cory Wilson, Locust Grove 3-Corey Greene, Griffin 4-Ernie Turner, Douglasville 5-Stacey Henderson, Senoia 6-Thomas Smith, Forsyth 7-Steve Clinton Fast Qualifier: Ricks\