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Jay Blair the Rough Rider

Meridian, Mississippi (August 18, 2001) – Jay Blair regained his championship form in winning his second O’Reilly SUPR victory of the year.  Blair earned the GRT Top Qualifier award for the third race in a row and this time he took full advantage of his opportunity leading the first two laps, slipping back as far as 4th place but never out of contact with the leaders before retaking the lead on lap 22.  Blair then had to hold off the challenges first of Rodney Wing and then Ryan Plaisance, who was able to pull nose-to-nose with Blair in the waning stages of the race but unable to make the move stick.  Blair’s victory moved him to within 3 points of David Ashley in the 2001 O’Reilly SUPR Championship standings with 10 races remaining.

“I started out on the bottom and about three of them blew by me on the outside and it took me a few laps to kind of find out where I needed to be and once I found a spot, I started to come back and the track, the rougher it got, the better I got and the worse everyone else was getting.  We haven’t changed a thing since we got here all night, we left the same setup on that we run in the heat race.”  Blair was confident in his equipment despite the rougher than normal track conditions because his GRT, the same car he won the rookie title with in 1998 and the championship last year, had just undergone a thorough going over.  “After Kilgore (the Armadillo Nationals) we changed every piece on it some we wouldn’t have to worry about it breaking.”

Blair was quick to thank Wall 2 Wall Racing Engines for providing the power needed to top the field.  “I want to thank Wall 2 Wall, Creel Brothers, Nature Gardens and PDI for their support and of course my crew.”

Blair’s victory was hard fought on a track that was plenty racy if a bit on the rough side.  Queen City Speedway track officials have expanded plenty of effort in seeking to improve the racing surface of the track and appear to have succeeded.  But persistent rains in the area prevented the track surface from being fully packed down.  The racetrack was reworked for the feature and these efforts paid off in an exciting feature that saw 6 lead changes over the 50-lap feature and plenty of side-by-side racing throughout the pack.

Jay Blair started on the pole but by lap 3 and after 4 early cautions, he had been overtaken by Dennis Duncan, Rodney Wing and Dave Siegert. Two of those early cautions, one for a spin by Plaisance and the next for a sin by David Ashley would have a major impact on the final results.  Lap 4 saw the open motors of Wing and Siegert out front and they began to pull away as the open motors appeared to be in their element on the racy surface.  Wing and Siegert battled with Siegert grabbing the lead on lap 7 before Wing retook it on lap 10.  Siegert continued to chase Wing until his motor expired on lap 15.

Rodney Wing kept the lead up front but Blair had found his groove and he was soon battling side by side with Wing grabbing the lead on lap 22. But their battle was not over as Wing stayed right with until lap 38 when Wing suddenly slowed at the top of turn 4.  Wing’s floor pan had become pinned up into his clutch and brake pedals.  With the car stuck in gear, the wrecker crew was unable to get the car to move.  Once the floor pan was unstuck, the car cranked up and Wing was able to climb back to 6th in the final standings in his Thompson Automotive/BP Team Cars/D&T Motorsports Jay Dickens powered mount.

On the lap 39 restart, Blair was now faced with an all-new challenger in the form of Ryan Plaisance.  Plaisance, driving a brand new Warrior with a brand new Wall 2 Wall motor had managed to complete recover from his spin on lap 2 to the point that he was now in a position to once again challenge for the win.  But Plaisance had to be wary of the new third place car and that was David Ashley who was also an early spin victim. The trio battled to the checkers with Plaisance coming closest to unseating Blair.

Plaisance felt that his car was good all night and he was confident he would be able to overcome his early race spin but the race came down to a single moment when the two lead cars race side-by-side through turns one and two with less than five laps to go.  “I didn’t have enough forward bite getting off the corner because my groove (around the bottom) went away and he was running the cushion.  It was just one of them deals, if he messed up and if I messed up he’d win, kind of like that.  I think I had more straightaway speed than him but I just struggled some in the corners.”

David Ashley, with his third place finish just did manage to hold on to the 2001 O’Reilly SUPR Point lead in his Thornhill Wrecker/Ace Pallet Service/J&J Racing Ronnie Rogers powered Larry Shaw.  Ashley felt that the early spin actually hurt him as he went to the top of the track and quickly began moving forward following his lap 2 spin.  As his progress became noticed, he found more cars running the same groove as the race wore on.  But despite his best efforts, it was a lack of tear-a-ways that may have cost him a chance at the win.  “I think we had the car to win the race but we run out of tear offs.  I took 35 out there with me and I used every one of them.  It got down to the crunch and we were having to work so hard through traffic around the outside and I couldn’t see getting in.  It was just one of them deals but we’re tickled to death with a solid finish.”

Three heat races were run with David Ashley, Jay Blair and Dennis Duncan claiming the wins.  Odie Green earned the Lloyd Wild Jr. Logging Hard Charger award as he passed 11 cars en route to his fifth place finish. 8 cars were on the lead lap at the end of the event with just over half the field still running when the checkers waved.

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

 

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