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posted May 28, 2001 08:17 PM UIN: 16262997

Article by Harvey Simpson May 26, 2001

CORDELE, GA - Hometown drivers stole the show in Memorial Day weekend
competition Saturday at Cordele Motor Speedway.

Gary Youngblood first earned a $1,000 payday by winning a special 50-lap
feature sponsored by Cellular One. He also weathered a post-race protest
filed by second place finisher Todd Griffin of Gray. Later in the evening,
Jay Carpenter completed a rare sweep of a pair of 30-lap late model features
to become the winningest driver in the class. He now has four wins on the
year. In claiming his biggest race payday of the year, Youngblood bolted
into the lead at the start and kept the top spot throughout. Griffin took
second from Hawkinsville's Daniel Mullis on lap 17 only to lose it three
laps later when he had to pit due to a flat tire. The fastest qualifier
during time trials with his 18.29 clocking, Griffin slowly battled his way
back among the pack leaders. He reentered the top five in the final 10 laps
and regained second place on lap 47 shortly after former runner-up Jimmy
Berube of Valdosta dropped out of the running with a locked transmission.
Youngblood, whose qualifying time of 18.32 tied Berube for the second
fastest run under the clock, held a huge lead most of the evening but wound
up only 4-5 car lengths ahead of Griffin. Eastman's Jim Brophy, who ran
second on laps 45-46, finished a distant third just a car length in front of
Cordele's Wayne Duckworth. Arthur Conquest of Bronson, Fla., rounded out the
top five.

Tire management, meanwhile, played a key role in both late model triumphs
by Carpenter who was returning to competition after taking two weeks off for
his wedding and honeymoon. He ran second for over 20 laps in each of the
two races before his pit crew's decision to set up the car so that its tires
wouldn't wear quickly paid off in the end. In the first feature held as a
make-up for the one rained out the week before, Carpenter seemed destined
most of the night to have to settle for runner-up honors behind Barwick's
Tom Jones. With Carpenter slowly gaining on the leader in the late going,
Dame Fortune completely turned her back on Jones on lap 22 when a blown
engine ended his competition for the evening. Carpenter, who had been
running 4-5 car lengths behind Jones a lap earlier, inherited the lead at
that point and in the remaining few laps ran away and hid from the rest of
the field. He wound up a good one-fourth lap in front of David Hodges Jr.
who beat fellow Valdostan Gary Palmer to the flagstand by just a car length.
Albany's Skip Pannell was just a half-car length behind Palmer at the wire.
Another Albany driver, Chris Johnson, rounded out the top five.

In the second late model duel of the fast-paced evening, Carpenter also held
second place longer than he did the top spot. Hodges, the top qualifier at
15.86, ran out front until his tires began to lose traction on the paved
oval. That allowed Carpenter to quickly close what had been as much as an
eighth-lap gap. Carpenter shot into the lead on lap 23 and once again left
the rest of the field far behind. Now a four-time winner this year, he
wound up an eighth-lap ahead of Hodges who lost a left rear wheel shortly
after crossing the finish line. The rest of the top five also finished
about an eighth-lap apart. It included Palmer in third place, Americus'
Steve Lashley in fourth and Johnson in fifth.

Rowland registers victory
In posting a second win in the last three races, Macon's Allen Rowland ran
out front from start to finish in a 20-lap hobby duel held as a make-up for
another rainout the week before. Tifton's Bud Wilson ran second to Rowland
until lap 15 when Sylvester's Wayne Bradley got around him. Neither,
though, could mount a serious challenge as Rowland wound up one-fourth lap
in front of Bradley who came in 4-5 car lengths ahead of Wilson. Valdosta's
Randy Merwin and Perry's Randy Woodard finished fourth and fifth.

Bradley reverses finish order
After running a tight second to Fitzgerald's Dwight Thompson in the first
half of the evening second 20-lap hobby race, Bradley forged ahead on lap 11
and held on for a hard-earned sixth win of the season. In a reversal of
their order of finish in the first feature, Bradley and Rowland wound up
separated by 8-10 car lengths. Woodard, Merwin and Wilson ran three, four
and five in that order.

Etheridge returns to form
Absent from victory lane for the past two weeks, Doerun's Tal Etheridge
easily returned there with a dominating performance that earned him a ninth
pure stock win in 2001. He quickly built an eighth-lap lead that he
maintained throughout except for the few times a caution flag would fly to
re-bunch the field. Lizella's Tuffy Johnson ran second to him for the first
12 laps before yielding that spot to Byron's Wayne Barfield who held it the
rest of the way in finishing 10-12 car lengths in front of Sylvester's Leon
Childs. Johnson wound up fourth and Smithville's Kenny Thomas took fifth.

Bird wins see-saw duel
A crowd-pleasing, see-saw 20-lap enduro battle up front ended with Arty Bird
just a car length in front of fellow Maconite Sam Odom, who actually led for
all but three laps. Now a five-time winner here this year, Bird moved out
front for the first time on lap 15. Odom regained the lead on lap 16 and
kept it until Bird flew past on lap 19. From that point on, the duel turned
into a dogfight that Bird narrowly won. Cordele's Billy Nipper came in 7-8
car lengths behind those two and 3-4 car lengths in front of Lizella's Frank
Johnson, who finished the same distance ahead of Cochran's Karl Willard to
round out the top five.

Icard records another win
En route to a track-leading 10th win of the year, Bonaire's Josh Icard set
the pace from start to finish in the 20-lap mini-stock show. Ft. Valley's
Justin Edwards ran second to Icard for over three-fourths of the race before
slipping back a couple of positions. Jonesboro's Kyle Smith eventually
finished second an eighth-lap behind Icard and 2-3 car lengths in front of
third place finisher Jimmy Self of Leslie. Justin Edwards of Ft. Valley and
Gene Self of Americus completed the top five.

Odell repeats in legends
The third and last of three different leaders in the 20-lap legends race,
Lawrenceville's David Odell went on to post his second straight and third
overall triumph of the year. Hahira's Scottie Horne led laps 1-2 and Twin
Lakes' Randy Howell ran out front on laps 3-4 before Odell moved out front
and stayed there. He eventually won by just 3-4 car lengths over Howell who
came in just two car lengths ahead of Brawn.

Upcoming card revealed
This weekend's card will be highlighted by a 125-lap Racecar Engineering
Sunbelt Super Series duel featuring late model cars from Florida. An
estimated 24-30 entries are expected for the battle that will see the winner
pocket a $3,000 payday. Features will be held in the track's other regular
classes as well.

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