The Southern Nationals Bonus Series made its first ever visit to the Blue Ridge Motorsports Park for a $4,000-to-win event on Saturday night. Donald McIntosh came away from the Blue Ridge, GA facility with the winner’s share of the purse and the trophy.
McIntosh had entered the night as the Southern Nationals Bonus Series points leader and further staked his claim to that title by scoring a dominating win on the track located in the northeastern corner of the Peach State.
Ray Cook set the pace early on in the night in leading Group A qualifying by posting a lap of 14.531 seconds around the 3/8 mile clay oval. With the top-4 from each qualifying group locked into the feature, Cook would start the main event from the pole. Donald McIntosh, David Payne and Shawn Chastain also made it into the feature via time-trials.
Kurt English was fastest in Group B qualifying and overall after he toured the Blue Ridge track in 14.522 seconds. That effort beat out Kenny Collins, J.T. Seawright and Steve Smith in that group.
George Mashburn and Jamie Oliver won the two B-main races used to set the remainder of the starting grid.
Cook jumped to the early lead when the green flag waved to start the 40-lap feature with English, McIntosh, Collins and Payne trailing. Payne quickly went on the move when he bolted by Collins as the cars completed the first lap to grab fourth.
The first of several caution flags that would slow the action waved on the second lap when Jim Cochran stopped in turn two.
Restarts proved to be pivotal as drivers frequently picked up positions when the racing action resumed. The restart after that lap 1 caution established that trend when McIntosh took the runner-up spot away from English and set off in pursuit of Cook. By lap 4, McIntosh moved inside Cook and the two raced side-by-side until McIntosh established himself as the front runner on the sixth circuit.
Shawn Chastain, who recently won the Southern Nationals Bonus Series race held at Tri-County Race Track, jumped into contention after a lap 17 restart when he grabbed fourth. Three laps later the No. X15 machine moved past Cook to take the third position.
Seawright also began to move forward at the race’s halfway mark when got around Cook to assume the fourth spot. Meanwhile, McIntosh had set sail and built his lead to almost a full straightaway over his pursuers.
Lap 26 proved to be a difficult one to get scored in the record books. After an initial caution, there were multiple attempts to restart the racing competition only to be interrupted by more cautions.
The most significant of those yellow flags came when the second running car of Chastain lost its right front wheel as the field came to the green flag. Multiple cars piled into the slowing Chastain ride resulting in a jam up in turn one.
Once the race returned to green flag action, McIntosh continued to dominate as he went on to take the checkered flag.
Feature Finish: 1. Donald McIntosh, 2. Kurt English, 3. J.T. Seawright, 4. Ray Cook, 5. David Payne, 6. Gary McPherson, 7. Kenny Collins, 8. Seth Wimper, 9. George Mashburn, 10. Jeff Neubert