Austin Horton snags Southern Nationals trophy at Rome

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Austin Horton earned $5,300 for his win

The Southern Nationals began its second week of competition by moving to the Rome Speedway for the fifth of what had been an 11-race schedule(two races were rained out). Austin Horton made his way to victory lane at the end of the night after dominating the feature to collect the $5,300 first prize.

Austin Horton led the way in Group A qualifying with a lap of 14.859 seconds around the half-mile clay oval to beat out Jason Croft, Brandon Overton and Cla Knight.

Donald McIntosh was quickest in Group B time-trials and overall with an effort of 14.737 seconds to out pace Michael Page, Zach Leonhardi and Will Roland.

The top-4 from each qualifying group were locked into the feature.

Tyler Millwood won the first of two B-main races used to set the remainder of the feature lineup. Millwood beat out Matt Dooley, Tyler Clem, Tanner English, Joey Armistead and Ahnna Parkhurst.

Jake Knowles won the second preliminary event ahead of Austin Smith, Mark Page, Aaron Ridley, Cody King and Craig Greer.

At the start of the 53-lap feature Horton jumped out to the early lead with McIntosh, Croft, Page and Overton in his wake. The race quickly settled into a rhythm with Horton extending his advantage while the remainder of the top-5 spaced out evenly behind the front runner.

However, Horton’s pace was slowed a bit when he encountered slower traffic on lap 16. McIntosh closed in a offered a brief challenge to Horton’s supremacy. But Horton was able to maintain the top spot. At the same time, Page was able to slip by Croft to take third as they too worked around slower machines.

A lap 20 caution provided his pursuers with a chance to erase the deficit previously built up by Horton. On the ensuing restart Page moved into the runner-up position and looked as if he might make a move for the lead. At the same time, Overton took fourth away from Croft a bit further back.

Horton eventually escaped from the potential trap laid by Page and again extended his lead. In the meantime, Overton took third away from McIntosh on lap 24. Two laps later Croft would also pass by McIntosh, this time for the fourth spot in the running order.

Horton pulled away over the closing laps while croft gained another position by sweeping by Overton to seize third.

But in the end it was all Horton as the No. 16 machine cruised under the checkered flag to score the victory.

Feature Finish: 1. Austin Horton, 2. Michael Page, 3. Jason Croft, 4. Brandon Overton, 5. Donald McIntosh, 6. Jake Knowles, 7. Zach Leonhardi, 8. Will Roland, 9. Cla Knight, 10. Austin Smith, 11. Tanner English, 12. Matt Dooley, 13. Ahnna Parkhurst, 14. Cody King, 15. Tyler Clem, 16. Aaron Ridley, 17. Tyler Millwood, 18. Bo Eaton, 19. Craig Greer, 20. Buster Goss, 21. Joey Amistead, 22. Mark Page

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