Southern Ground Pounders and Twin Late Models Features Highlight 7 feature Night
The Southern Ground Pounders made their one and only scheduled stop at Dominion this year on Saturday night and they did not disappoint with a 17-car field made up of vintage modified and sportsman cars. They compete on varying tracks, primarily in the Southern region and they put on a show for the fans in their 25-lap feature. Only one caution during the feature made it a quick show but Dwight “Cowboy” Sauls, the reigning modified champion, and Rodney Dye, the modified champion in 2016, ran nose to tail with a car length or less between them for most of the race. It looked like there might be a last lap pass to see who would win, but Dye ‘s night ended with three laps left when he started over heating and brought his machine in the pits which gave Saul’s the victory. When asked after the feature if he had enough to pass Dye on the last lap had it come to that, Sauls said “I think so. We were racing real careful with him and if it came down to a lap to go, I was there. We’re great friends, we race clean and that is part of the whole mystique about these Southern Ground Pounders is everybody tries their best to race clean, they really do,”.
Late Models had two 60 lap twins with an 18-car field in the first and a 17 car field in the second, allowing for max points in both races for drivers involved in the national points standings. In typical Philip Morris style, he came out in qualifying and took the pole with a time of 15:40, but a five-car invert had him rolling off the grid fifth, putting Timmy Phipps on the pole to start the first twin. It didn’t take long for the first of three cautions in the first five laps to wave as the first one was shown on lap one. Once they got through the cautions and got back to racing, Phipps still showed the way with Tyler Hughes, Sergio Pena and Jeff Oakley rounding out the top four spots. Hughes was able to take the top spot by lap eight, but Morris was closing ground quick. The last caution with 44 laps to go brought the field back together with Hughes still holding the first spot on the grid, but Morris had closed to second, with Pena in third and Davey Callihan in fourth. Once racing resumed it took Morris only eight laps to take the lead and drive away for his first of two checkered flags on the night. Hughes, Doug Barnes, Pena and Callihan rounded out the top five.
Later in the evening, after an eight car invert the Late Models were at it again. This time the pole sitter was Chandler Sherman and he would lead the 17-car field to the green. Like the first feature, it didn’t take long for the first caution which flew on lap 12. After some hard racing side by side between Oakley and Morris, Oakley spun in turn one which put him back into thirteenth place when the green flag dropped to resume racing. Two laps later, Morris was back out in front and never looked back driving away to his second checkered flag of the night. Rounding out the top five were Barnes, Hughes, Alex Brock and Phipps. Hughes, who finished the first feature in second and should have gone off seventh, had to go to the back of the field after changing a leaking tire between features. He was able to pick his way through the field and get himself a third-place finish. Another hard charger was Oakley that came from thirteenth after his early spin, to finish just outside the top five in sixth.
Dominion Stocks ran a 40-lap feature that saw nine cars take the checkered and only have one caution. Todd Ruggles in his 07 machine took the pole, but a six-car invert had Gary Burke roll off in the first spot which he never relinquished and went on to win the feature with Andrew Condrey and Renno Marchetti coming home second and third respectively.
The MN Upholstery UCARS had a 25 lap feature that saw Ryan Pritt take home his third win of the season for the domestic class. Rounding out the top three were Pritt, Jamie Hite and Cameron Ruggles. Pritt was leading Ruggles by only two points coming into the evening and was able to add a few more to it after an early incident saw Ruggles go to the back of the pack but was able to drive to a third-place finish. In the import division, Jack Johnson picked up his second win of the year making it two wins in two starts for him.
The mini cups ran a 25 lap feature that saw Justin Herndon take the checkered flag with another dominant performance and the Any Car division saw Richard Powers beat Pete Sullivan in their feature to pick up his first win of the year and stopped Sullivan’s win streak.
The next race will be Saturday the 27th with features for the Dominion Racer, Modifieds, Dominion Stock, UCAR, Any Car, Mini Mods and Legends. Gates open at 5 and the green flag drops at 7. If any would like more information on the Southern Ground Pounders, visit their website at www.sgpvintageracers.com where you can see bios, schedules and history and information about the club. Their next race is 7/27 at Langley Speedway.