TOCCOA, GA – Jensen Ford of Piney Flats, TN drove the Tim Byrd Motorsports TNT his family built with an economical Chevrolet Performance 604 Circle Track Engine under the hood to his first FASTRAK Pro Late Model Series win of the season on Saturday night at Toccoa Raceway. The $2,000 victory also gave Ford the lead in the FASTRAK South Region point standings.
Ford took the lead at the drop of the green flag and would build up a decent lead, but six caution flags would bunch up the field at various points in the 40-lap race, including the last one with six laps to go. Even though Ford led all 40 laps, it was close at the end.
In taking the checkered flag, Ford had a .697 second margin of victory over the defending FASTRAK SE Champion Cla Knight of North Augusta, SC in the Augusta Aquatics Longhorn. Three-time FASTRAK Champion David Smith of Inman, SC drove the Smather’s Excavating/Hi-Bridge Automotive TNT “House Car” to a third-place finish.
The Ford family is well-known through the TNT Race Cars shop owned by the race winner’s parents, Tony and Teresa Ford. With all of the high-dollar Longhorn and Rocket chassis in the field, the less expensive TNT Race Cars came home first and third. Smith and Ford also won the ten-lap Heat Races. Jensen Ford grew up in the shop and helped build both cars.
“We had a good car tonight and it worked really well up front in the clean air,” Ford said. “We weren’t that good when we were here in April to open the season, but we went back to the shop, changed some things, and those changes were for the good tonight.”
Matthew Nance of Ronda, NC drove the Diversified Finishers Longhorn to a fourth-place finish and fifth went to Benji Hicks of Mt. Airy, NC in the T&K Enterprises Longhorn. Frankie Beard of Hartwell, GA was sixth in the Jessica Cornett Racing/CMP Automotive Mastersbilt, and former FASTRAK Champion Ron Parker of Belwood, NC took the seventh spot in the Schaeffer Oil Rocket.
Daniel Wilson of Clayton, GA started 16th and finished eighth in the Persimmon Creek Transport Rocket to earn the Hard Charger of the Race Award. Dylan Lewis of Oakland, MD made a ten hour tow to Toccoa, GA to finish ninth in the CRB Timber Mastersbilt and was the Rookie of the Race. Larry Waters of Cumming, GA rounded out the top ten in the Heards Dirt Work and Dumpster Rocket.
Knight was the Fast Qualifier of the event with a lap around the Toccoa Raceway high-banked clay oval in 13.068 seconds.
Ford took the lead from his outside front row starting spot followed by Smith, defending FASTRAK Weekly Racing Series National Champion David McCoy of Franklin, NC in the C&P Motorsports Barry Wright, Knight and Nance. The red flag was displayed on lap two after an eight car pile-up completely blocked the head of the front straightaway.
The wreck ended the evening for three drivers, Cody Pritchett of Carnesville, GA in the Carter’s Royal Disposal Longhorn, Drew Benfield of Toccoa, GA in the David Benfield CPA Longhorn, and Adam Smith of Carnesville, GA in the Jacky Jones Rocket. When the green bulb was illuminated to restart the race, Knight drove to the inside to get under McCoy for the third spot.
The caution came out for the second time on lap four when Jerry Loudermilk of Mt. Airy, GA spun the BTR Racing Barry Wright in turn four. The top ten of Ford, Smith, Knight, McCoy, Beard, Nance, Hicks, Parker, Peyton Freeman of Commerce, GA in the Freeman Plumbing Longhorn, and Wilson doubled up for the restart.
The race stayed green for four more laps and Nance got by McCoy to take over the fourth spot. Phillip Thompson of Knoxville, TN spun the Milmax Filtration Warrior in turn two on lap eight. On the next restart, it was Nance on the move once again, as he drove around the outside of Knight to take over the third spot, and Beard passed McCoy for the fifth position.
Ford continued to open up a lead on Smith, Nance, Knight and Beard, but the field was slowed by a caution flag for the fourth time on lap 14 when Derrek Harvey of Toccoa, GA stalled the Toccoa Gas Service Walter Newman in turn two. Ford, as he had done for the previous restarts, chose the inside for the double-file restart.
When the green flag was displayed, Ford was able to clear Smith and slide up in front of the second-place car coming off the fourth turn. Behind Ford and Smith, Nance, Knight, Beard, McCoy, Hicks, Parker, Wilson, and Freeman battled for the top ten spots. Knight drove around the outside of Nance on the restart to reclaim the third spot, and Hicks went from eighth to sixth.
Knight chased down Smith to battle for second, and on lap 17, he stepped to the outside to pass Smith for second. In the meantime, Ford had opened up ten car length lead. That advantage was erased on lap 26 when Freeman stalled on the backstretch. The field lined up for a single-file restart with Ford leading Knight, Smith, Nance, Beard, Hicks, McCoy, Parker, Wilson and Lewis.
When the field set up for the restart, Knight put the nose of his car right under the back bumper of Ford’s car. That’s as close as Knight would get, as Ford took off and opened up a five car-length advantage by lap 30. While Ford maintained his lead, and was methodically clicking off the laps, he expected to see the five to go signal coming off the fourth turn, but instead, saw yellow.
McCoy had a fire break out under the hood of his car and he slowed to bring his flaming race car to the safety crew in the turn four entrance to the pit area. Thompson came around the fourth turn and couldn’t get slowed down in time, spun and hit the back of McCoy’s car.
The red flag came out, the fire was extinguished by McCoy’s onboard fire suppression system that’s mandatory this year on all FASTRAK race cars. McCoy exited the car under his own power and no one was hurt. Ford led Knight, Smith, Nance, Beard, Hicks, Parker, Wilson, Lewis, and Waters down for the six lap dash for the cash.
Once again, Knight left Ford a wake-up call for the restart by knocking on his back door just before the leader hit the throttle to bring out the green flag. Ford opened up a five car-length advantage over Knight, the second-place driver looked like he saved a little speed for the closing laps. Knight whittled his deficit down to a car-length when the lead duo took the white flag.
Ford hit his marks to perfection on the final lap, and Knight was unable to make a move through the first and second turns. Knight stayed with the leader down the backstretch, and threw caution to the wind entering turn three. Knight dove deep into the high side of turn three, hoping it would stick. Knight ended up jumping the cushion in turn three, which sealed the deal for Ford.
The next race for the FASTRAK SE Tour will be on Saturday night, July 1 at Lavonia Speedway in Lavonia, GA for a 40-lap $2,000-to-win, $250-to-start race, Round 6 of the 2017 FASTRAK SE season. Ford will take a two point lead in the FASTRAK SE standings over Hicks into that event.
Just 16 points separate the top five in the FASTRAK SE point standings heading into the July 1 Lavonia Speedway race. Ford leads with 155 points, and Hicks has 153. Knight is third in the FASTRAK SE standings with 144 points, Nance is fourth with 140 points, and Parker is fifth with 139 points.
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OFFICIAL FINISH OF ROUND 5 AT TOCCOA RACEWAY IN TOCCOA, GA ON 6/17/17:
POS STRT CAR # DRIVER HOMETOWN LAPS $ WON
1. 2 83 Jensen Ford Piney Flats, TN 40 $2,000
2. 3 42 Cla Knight North Augusta, SC 40 $1,000
3. 1 11 David Smith Inman, SC 40 $700
4. 6 24n Matthew Nance Ronda, NC 40 $600
5. 10 55 Benji Hicks Mt. Airy, NC 40 $500
6. 8 2 Frankie Beard Hartwell, GA 40 $450
7. 14 8 Ron Parker Belwood, NC 40 $400
8. 16 12 Daniel Wilson Clayton, GA 40 $375
9. 15 44 Dylan Lewis Oakland, MD 40 $350
10. 17 66 Larry Waters Cumming, GA 40 $325
11. 4 187 David McCoy Franklin, NC 34 $315
12. 18 24T Phillip Thompson Knoxville, TN 32 $300
13. 7 F1 Peyton Freeman Commerce, GA 24 $275
14. 19 60 Branden Yawn Savannah, GA 13 $265
15. 13 11h Derrick Harvey Toccoa, GA 12 $250
16. 11 1 Jerry Loudermilk Mt. Airy, GA 3 $250
17. 5 15 Cody Prichett Carnesville, GA 1 $250
18. 9 371 Drew Benfield Toccoa, GA 1 $250
19. 12 14 Adam Smith Carnesville, GA 1 $250
FAST QUALIFIER: Knight, 13.068 Seconds
LEAD CHANGES: None
LAP LEADER: Ford, 1-40
ROOKIE OF THE RACE: Lewis
HARD CHARGER OF THE RACE: Wilson (started 16th and finished 8th)
CAUTIONS: 6 (2 Red Flags)
MARGIN OF VICTORY: .697 Seconds
TIME OF THE RACE: 59 Minutes and 13.438 Seconds
NEXT RACE: Saturday, July 1, Lavonia Speedway, Lavonia, GA, 40 Laps. $2,000-to-win, $250-to-start
North Augusta, SC
Mt. Airy, GA
Mt. Airy, NC
Piney Flats, TN
HEAT RACES (10 Laps):
1ST HEAT: 1. D. Smith; 2. Knight; 3. Prichett; 4. Freeman; 5. Benfield; 6. Loudermilk; 7. Harvey; 8. Lewis; 9. Waters.
2ND HEAT: 1. Ford; 2. McCoy; 3. Nance; 4. Beard; 5. Hicks; 6. A. Smith; 7. Parker; 8. Wilson; 9. Thompson; 10. Yawn.
THE 2017 MARKETING PARTNERS FOR THE FASTRAK RACING SERIES ARE CHEVROLET PERFORMANCE, HOOSIER RACING TIRE, VP RACING FUEL, BEYEA HEADERS, ROCKET CHASSIS, TNT RACE CARS, ARIZONA SPORT SHIRTS, SIMPSON SAFETY EQUIPMENT, SAFECRAFT FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS, ROCK AUTO.COM, AND THOMAS CLARKE PERFORMANCE.