Kenny Merchant Takes First Win of 2001
Murfreesboro, Arkansas (June 9, 2001) – The Monroe Mafia swept into South West Arkansas Speedway with an eye on staking claim to yet another racetrack. But while it was Diamond Dave Siegert leading the charge throughout the night at South West Arkansas Speedway, in the end it was Kenny Merchant taking the checkers.
Merchant acknowledged that Dave Siegert would have been tough to beat had he not fallen out just before the finish line. “Finally luck was on our side I guess.”
Merchant, driving his J.D.Caver/Goddard Performance Warrior passed Jeff Chanler on the outside as they raced through turns 3 and 4 with 3 laps to go to grab the lead and the victory. But before the pass could be made, the momentum of the race had to take a big swing as Dave Siegert dominated the first three quarters of the race. Siegert appeared to be on cruise control in his Barthold Tire/Floorworks/PTS Rocket but somewhere along the way, Dave had an encounter with one of the infield tires breaking his left front suspension. The damage appeared to be minimal at first but it became more and more of a problem for Siegert as he fought to turn the car in the corners. Siegert’s difficulties finally led to an early end to his night as he and Chanler tangled in turn 2 as they battled for the lead on lap 47. Both cars were able to keep moving but the caution had waved so the field was lined up for one last dash to the checkered flag. Unfortunately for Siegert, he was unable to get his damaged car to turn in the corners and he was sent off the racetrack.
Siegert felt he had a chance to finish the race and was disappointed to be sent off the track. “I drove it like that for 15 or 20 laps, all I had to do is restart the race and roll it up and I would have been fine. It doesn’t always go our way I guess.”
Merchant actually had to overcome some adversity of his own as he flung the air filter off his racecar on lap 7. He contemplated pitting his car but elected to stay out as there was very little dust on the immaculately prepared racetrack and his hunch paid off with the victory and apparently very little dirt built up in the carburetor. “The car felt real good and I was looking around under the caution and I flipped up my helmet and I said well it ain’t all that dusty and we’ve got a big hood scoop on. If it gets any dust in there, I don’t think it’ll be a whole lot.”
Dennis Duncan wheeling the Majestic Metals/Duncan Motorsports GRT was the first car to really try to run the outside groove at South West as he worked his way up to 10th by lap 17 but a bump from another car sent his car off the back stretch bringing out the 4th of 5 cautions in the race. Duncan would restart on the rear and he would rebound to record a 7th place finish.
Jon Mitchell in the Kenneth’s High Performance/J&J Motorsports GRT was the next car to try the outside line and he began storming his way to the front. Running in 8th place when the caution waved for Duncan on lap 17, Mitchell quickly moved in to the top 5 on lap 19 and he was up to 3rd by lap 22. Lap 27 saw Mitchell reach 2nd on the track as he moved by Jeff Chanler, who had been running in 2nd since the start of the race. Mitchell and Chanler raced into lapped traffic, a straightaway behind Siegert at this point. Chanler was able to move back by Mitchell on lap 37 and he started reeling in Siegert who was not noticeably slower on the track.
Merchant was running 6th on lap 17 when Mitchell went around him on the outside. Merchant soon elected to try the same line and he too began to move forward. He moved by Rob Litton for 5th on lap 30 and he moved by Jay Blair for 4th on the very next lap. He then caught and passed Mitchell on lap 39 for 3rd to set up the final dash with Chanler.
Chanler’s Luigi’s Restaurant/Alexander Motorsports Rayburn suffered right front damage when he and Siegert got together in turn two and he was unable to hold his lead for long as first Merchant, then Mitchell and finally David Ashley all worked by Chanler over the final 3 laps of the race. Ashley’s charge from 19th to 3rd earned him the Lloyd Wild Jr. Logging Hard Charger award.
Ashley’s 3rd place finish in his Ashley Brothers/J&J Motosports American Made allowed him to close to within 6 points of Jay Blair in the 2001 O’Reilly SUPR Point standings. “I want to thank American Made, J&J and everybody for pitching in. David Burkhalter for the motor he built for me and Ronnie Rogers for the motor he built. They’re all doing great.”
30 SUPR Late Models were on hand with heat wins going to Keith Craft, Rob Litton, Dave Siegert and Jon Mitchell. Dennis Duncan claimed the lone Last Chance race.
For further information regarding the 2001 OReilly SUPR Series contact Greg Holmes at 225-275-5040 or e-mail us at email@example.com.
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