posted June 25, 2002 10:19 PM
O'REILLY AUTO PARTS MID-AMERICA RACING SERIES
Friday, June 21, 2002
By Larry Olson; Mountain Home, AR
MUSKOGEE OK. Raymond Merrill claimed his first career O'Reilly Auto Parts Mid-America Racing Series feature win Friday at the Muskogee Speedway. Merrill bypassed Terry Phillips after Phillips suffered a wheel out of balance after Phillips packed a wheel full of mud. Merrill took over the lead on lap 16, and wasn't challenged from that point. Merrill's win was worth $3,000 to the Sallisaw, Oklahoma driver.
David Gibson was the top qualifier, and held the pole with Phillips to his outside. Phillips got a big advantage on the start, with the high side being the better line. Merrill pulled in behind him, with Gibson, Donnie Barnhart, and Jeff Taylor falling in behind. Barnhart took the third spot from Gibson in turn two on the second lap. Phillips had moved out to a 10 carlength lead by lap five.
Jeff Taylor caught Gibson, and was side by side with him on lap eight. Taylor took fourth in turn four on lap nine. Out front Phillips was pacing Merrill by 20 carlengths by lap 10, and was into traffic by lap 12.
Merrill closed on Phillips in the traffic. Phillips drove very low on the track trying to clear the traffic, and may have filled his wheel with the mud at that point. Phillips worked the high side, and got picked behind a slower car as Merrill darted by him on the bottom of the track on the backstretch on lap 16.
Merrill moved out to a 10 carlength margin almost immediately. Phillips was suffering with the mud, and Barnhart drove by him on lap 18. Bill Frye picked up 5th spot on lap 19, while Jeff Taylor was bypassing Phillips for third on the front on lap 20.
Merrill was facing traffic woes himself by lap 22. Frye had caught Phillips by lap 23, taking the spot on the next go round. Wendell Wallace drove by Phillips for fifth on lap 26. Phillips had finally had enough, slowing on the frontstretch, bringing out the caution. Phillips headed to the pits, had his wheel cleaned, and returned to the event.
Bill Frye and Jeff Taylor were side by side on the restart, and Frye got the spot in turn two. Merrill was able to drive away from Barnhart, and was 15 carlengths in front by lap 30. Frye drove under Barnhart for second in turn two on lap 31. Merrill was a half straightaway ahead of Frye by lap 35.
Raymond Merrill came home with the win, with Bill Frye, Donnie Barnhart, Jeff Taylor, and Wendell Wallace making up the top five. Leslie Essary claimed sixth, Terry Phillips rallied for seventh, heading Mike Bowers, David Gibson, and Joey Mack, who rounded out the top ten.
Top Qualifier: David Gibson
Hard Charger: Wendell Wallace
Provisionals: Jeff Floyd (4) Dewaine Hottinger (2)
Lap Leaders: Terry Phillips 1-15, Raymond Merrill 16-40
A Feature (40 Laps)
1) Raymond Merrill, GRT/Kuntz/Grand Prix; $3,000
2) Bill Frye, GRT/Kuntz/Mustang; $2,000
3) Donnie Barnhart, GRT/Kuntz/Grand Prix; $1,250
4) Jeff Taylor, Shaw-Rocket/Kuntz/Taurus; $1,100
5) Wendell Wallace, GRT/Gaerte/Grand Prix; $1,000
6) Leslie Essary, GRT/Mike's/Grand Prix; $750
7) Terry Phillips, GRT/Hatfield/Monte Carlo; $700
8) Mike Bowers, GRT/Hatfield/Monte Carlo; $675
9) David Gibson, Shaw-Rocket/Hatfield/Monte Carlo; $650
10) Joey Mack, GRT/Kuntz/Mustang; $625
11) Justin Fulton, Rocket/Baker/Grand Prix; $600
12) Jerry Buck, Warrior/Hatfield/Grand Prix; $575
13) Brad Looney, MasterSbilt/Hatfield/Monte Carlo; $550
14) Steve Rushin, GRT/Hatfield/Monte Carlo; $525
15) Stacy Taylor, GRT/Dickens/Grand Prix; $500
16) Gary Stolba, GRT/Hatfield/Monte Carlo; $500
17) Klint Pursley, American Made/BMS/Monte Carlo; $500
18) James Carpenter, GRT/BMS/Monte Carlo; $500
19) Dan Leatherman, GRT/Baker/Monte Carlo; $500
20) Randy Mitchell, GRT/Mitchell/Monte Carlo; $500
21) Jeff Floyd, GRT/Baker/Monte Carlo; $500
22) Dewaine Hottinger, GRT/Kuntz/Grand Prix; $500
1st Heat (12 Laps) 1) Jeff Taylor, Batesville AR 2) Terry Phillips, Springfield MO 3) Leslie Essary, Crane MO 4) Joey Mack, Benton MO 5) Brad Looney, Republic MO 6) Dan Leatherman, Muskogee OK 7) Jeff Floyd, Walnut Ridge AR 8) Randy Mitchell, Muldrow OK
2nd Heat 1) Raymond Merrill, Sallisaw OK 2) Justin Fulton, Muskogee OK 3) Bill Frye, Greenbriar AR 4) Wendell Wallace, Batesville AR 5) Klint Pursley, Locust Grove OK 6) Steve Rushin, Poplar Bluff MO 7) Dewaine Hottinger, Russellville AR 8) Donny Hicks, Tallaquah OK
3rd Heat 1) David Gibson, Ash Flat AR 2) Donnie Barnhart, North Little Rock AR 3) Mike Bowers, North Little Rock, AR 4) Jerry Buck, Paragould AR 5) Stacy Taylor, Jacksonville AR 6) Gary Stolba, Willow Springs MO 7) Eldon Bales, Muskogee OK 8) James Carpenter, Porter OK
Last Chance Qualifer (12 Laps, four transfer) 1) Gary Stolba 2) Dan Leatherman 3) James Carpenter 4) Randy Mitchell 5) Jeff Floyd 6) Eldon Bales 7) Dewaine Hottinger (scratch: Donny Hicks)