July 23, 2019 at Tri-County RaceTrack ($3,500 to win)
(Article by Trevor Gonzales, RPM Writer)
(Brasstown, North Carolina)- Round 6 of the Schaffer’s Oil Southern Nationals Series rolled into Tri-County Racetrack in Brasstown, North Carolina for a Tuesday night $3,500 to win race. With a slew of local drivers that race weekly at Tri-County, it would no be surprise if a dark horse steals a win. The dark horse of the whole series so far has been Rome, Georgia driver Jake Knowles who intends to race the tour “day by day” yet with his consistency, he found himself headed into the race sitting at second in the points, only 10 points behind series long points leader Brandon Overton. However when the checkers waved, it would be Knowles who would capture the points lead and take his first ever Southern Nationals victory.
Twenty-two drivers were signed in for the $3,500 to win race as the starting field would be set based off of time trials. Colbert, Georgia driver Kenny Collins would set the overall fast time and be the only driver to crack the twelve second bracket with a lap of 12.953 seconds. David Payne, Brandon Overton, Shawn Chastain, and Kurt English would round out the top five in Group A qualifying. Knowles would set the fast time in Group B to clinch the outside pole position with a lap of 13.131 seconds. He would be 0.05 seconds faster than Tanner English in qualifying. Salvisa, Kentucky driver Michael Chilton, who was piloting Ray Cook’s Capital Race Car was third in qualifying followed by Casey Roberts and Donald McIntosh.
The green flag for the 35 lap feature would wave at 9:25PM as Knowles would take the lead from Collins on the outside of Turn 2 to lead the opening lap over Collins, English, Overton, and Payne. Overton would pass English for third on the second lap of the race. However, the former points leader would strike trouble as he would pull off the track on Lap 3 after breaking a quick change gear in Turns 3 and 4. The first and only caution of the race would fly on Lap 5 as Kip Cochran would wreck and get into the wall on the backstretch.
Knowles would hold the lead after the single file restart with 30 laps to go. On Lap 7, Chilton would pass Payne for fifth place. Knowles would enter lapped traffic on the small North Carolina bullring by Lap 10 and still hold a half second lead over Collins and English by the halfway mark on Lap 18. On Lap 20, eighth place starting Casey Roberts would crack into the top five after battling with Payne for five laps. With 11 laps to go, third place running Tanner English would wash up the track and lose momentum allowing both Chilton and Roberts to move up to the third and fourth positions. The lapped traffic would allow Collins to catch up to Knowles and contend for the lead. Knowles would be on the inside with Collins on the outside running side by side for the last ten laps. Collins would take the lead occasionally on the backstretch during the battle but when Knowles had the better of Collins in Turns 3 and 4 as he would hold the lead at the line. Collins would get a good run in Turns 3 and 4 with five laps to go to take the lead on Lap 30. Knowles would then put his Longhorn Chassis into another gear as he would regain the lead down the backstretch and to the line over Collins. Collins would throw slide job after slide job but Knowles was able to hold him off to the checkers as he captured his first ever Southern Nationals Series win. Collins would finish second with Chilton taking third. Rounding out the top five would be Casey Roberts and Tanner English. Completing the top ten would be David Payne, Donald McIntosh, Shawn Chastain, Kurt English, and Jamie Oliver
Knowles is now the points leader heading into the final three races of the miniseries. Thursday at Crossville Speedway for another 35 lap, $3,500 to win weeknight feature, followed by 411 Motor Speedway with a $10,000 to win race on Friday, and the series finale Saturday night at Tazewell Speedway paying $10,053 to win and $5,053 to the series champion.
1.66 Jake Knowles- Rome, GA
2.1c Kenny Collins- Colbert, GA
3.97 Michael Chilton- Salvisa, KY
4.101 Casey Roberts- Toccoa, GA
5.58 Tanner English- Benton, KY
6.8 David Payne- Murphy, NC
7.7m Donald McIntosh- Dawsonville, GA
8.x15 Shawn Chastain- Murphy, NC
9.17 Kurt English- Murphy, NC
10.38 Jamie Oliver- Murphy, NC
11.58T Tyler Clem- Ocala, FL
12.200 Jacob Anderson- Murphy, NC
13.4H Levi Hicks- Murphy, NC
14.62 Cody King- McDonough, GA
15.42 Cla Knight- North Augusta, SC
16.17J Rusty Jordan- Cannon, GA
17.7G Craig Greer- Cleveland, TN
18.85 Steve Lamance- Six Mile, SC
19.55 Kip Cochran- Franklin, NC
20.4 Danny Ledford- Warren, NC
21.2 Brandon Overton- Evans, GA
22.34 Glenn Barnett- Murphy, NC