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Phillips, Essary 1-2 at Salina

By Don Hubbard

Salina, Okla. (May 19, 2001) - Terry Phillips of Springfield, Missouri went two for two picking up his second win of the weekend in the O'Reilly NCRA/SUPR Late Model 40-lap feature at Salina Highbanks Speedway Saturday night.

Phillips won his heat from seventh position earning enough passing points to start outside pole in the feature.  He took the lead on the green with Leslie Essary of Crane, Missouri in hot pursuit.

Essary blasted underneath as the duo headed off turn four to complete lap one. But, Phillips returned the favor with a high pass going down the backstretch on lap two and never looked back.  As Phillips ran the high groove most of the race, Essary stuck his nose under him coming off turn four several times but couldn't muster a pass.  Phillips pulled away to a straightaway victory when Essary's mount tightened up in the late stages of the race.

Phillips said, "The track was rough but fast, the track is wide so you could race the bottom or top, you could dive on cars and pass them without any problem."

"The backstretch was so rough, it gave me a problem, I couldn't see the lapped cars, everything was shaking and it was hard to focus in on how close I was to them."  "The front stretch was alright."  Essary stated, " My car was good at the start of the race, I could run around the bottom, but the longer the race the tighter it got, if it hadn't tightened up I might have had something for him."

The entire race was action packed with seven yellow flags and plenty of passing.  David Ashley of Zachary, LA started third but fell back to fourth when Klint Pursley passed him on lap two, before the first caution fell for Ted Martin who stopped in turn four.    On the restart Phillips, Essary and Pursley were nose to tail.  Ashley put the pressure on Pursley and got by him on the fourth circuit.

Odie Green of Fouke, AR ended his night when he came to a stop and was pushed to the pits on lap six.  The top three still remained the same when seventh place starter Dave Siegert of W.Monroe, LA moved into fourth on lap six before the yellow flew for Kenny Merchant who went out with a mechanical.  "The Ice Man", Delbert Smith moved into sixth behind Siegert on the restart and flew into fourth on the lap 11 restart after Mike Berkenbile slowed and Kent Taylor spun to avoid him. One lap later Smith passed Ashley for third.

The fastest car on the track at that time was Al Purkey who won his heat but was light at the scales and had to run the B which he won and then started seventeenth in the A feature to take over fourth before a shock broke on lap thirteen sending him to the pits.  At the halfway mark on a tacky but rough track, it was Phillips, Essary, Eddie Tidwell, Tommy Fulton who passed Delbert Smith on lap nineteen. Pursley was running eighth when he slowed on lap thirty with overheating and headed to the pits when the final caution flew for debris on the track.  The final restart closed the gap on the leaders, however a lapped car between Phillips and Essary and another between Essary and Smith gave the leaders enough room to pull away from the field.  Smith picked up the third spot behind Phillips and Essary at the checker.  Raymond Merrill of Sallisaw, OK came from fourteenth to fourth.  Danny Leatherman of Muskogee, OK was fifth.

Rounding out the top ten were Eddie Tidwell, of Ada, OK who was running third until his mount tightened up.  Kent Taylor of Wellington, KS who came back from an early spin to finish 7th, Dennis Duncan of Terry, MS was 8th, Terry Henson who was knocked out in his heat when he and Siegert made contact, Henson had a wheel torn off and took a provisional to finish 9th.  Ryan Plaisance of Westwego, LA was 10th.

Al Purkey passed Kent Taylor with three laps to go to win the thirteen lap B feature.  Defending SUPR Champion Jay Blair of Angie, LA was second.  Kelly Boen of Henderson, CO who did not report to the scales after his heat race and was DQ'd finished third while Kent Taylor took the final transfer spot.   Martin, Randolph and Duncan also took provisionals to the A feature.

For further information regarding the 2001 O’Reilly SUPR Series contact Greg Holmes at 225-275-5040 or e-mail us at

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