Dale McDowell claims win at Tazewell, Cory Hedgecock grabs SoNats title

Dale McDowell on lap 40

Dale McDowell was in the right place at the right time and was able to take advantage of the misfortune of early leader Dakotah Knuckles then drove on to win the Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals finale on Saturday night at Tazewell Speedway.

The Team Zero Race Cars driver from Chickamauga, Georgia earned $10,053 for his efforts on the third-mile track located in Tazewell, Tennessee.

Cory Hedgecock of Loudon, Tennessee used two victories and a string of consistent finishes to take his first Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals championship.

A total of 26 cars were signed in for competition

Qualifying Results: 1. Eli Beets(11.374), 2.. Kenny Collins, 3. David Payne, 4. Dale McDowell, 5. Dakotah Knuckles, 6. Austin Neely, 7. Parker Martin, 8. Cory Hedgecock, 9. Mack McCarter, 10. Forrest Trent

Heat 1 Results: 1. Eli Beets, 2. Dale McDowell, 3. Parker Martin, 4. Forrest Trent, 5. Will Roland, 6. Ryan Winchester

Heat 2 Results: 1. Daktoah Knuckles, 2. Kenny Collins, 3. Cory Hedgecock, 4. John Henderson, 5. Wil Herrington, 6. Aaron Guinn

Heat 3 Results: 1. David Payne, 2. Mack McCarter, 3. Ricky Weiss, 4. Austin Neely, 5. Vic Hill, 6. Jensen Ford

B-main Finish: 1. Josh Sneed, 2. Steve Smith, 3. Matt Tharp, 4. Brenden Smith

Feature Re-cap: At the start of the 53-lap feature Beets took the lead with Knuckles, McDowell, Payne and McCarter trailing. By the fifth circuit around the high-banked track the top-3 of Beets, Knuckles and McDowell had begun to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. The leaders then began to encounter slower traffic on lap 8. 

Knuckles took advantage of the slower cars and slipped by Beets to gain the race lead on lap 10. McDowell followed suit one lap later by passing Beets for second.

Beets then fell back into a fight with Payne, McCarter and Hedgecock for positions 4-7. On lap 18, Hedgecock slowed to bring out a caution with a flat tire.

McCarter charged forward in lap 21 when he passed by Payne for fourth while Knuckles and McDowell battled for the lead among slower cars. McDowell continued to apply pressure on Knuckles as the heavy traffic persisted.

Lap 40 proved to be a devastating one for Knuckles as he tangled with a slower car and crashed. McDowell then inherited the lead as Knuckles retired from the event.

McCarter rose to second just after the restart when he moved around Beets. Meanwhile, Hedgecock had recovered from his earlier troubles and was running just behind Roland which was all he needed to do to secure the championship.

McDowell then pulled away from the pack as Weiss looked to gain ground by passing Payne for fourth. The Canadian driver then began to challenge Beets for third but Beets would spin on lap 50making contact with the inside wall. The incident did enough damage to cause the pole sitter to retire from the race.

On the final restart, McDowell pulled away from the battle between McCarter and Weiss.

It was McDowell’s third Southern Nationals win of 2022 and the tenth of his career. It was Hedgecock’s first Southern Nationals championship.

Dale McDowell in victory lane

Feature Results: 1. Dale McDowell, 2. Mack McCarter, 3. Ricky Weiss, 4. David Payne, 5. Forrest Trent, 6. Kenny Collins, 7. Vic Hill, 8. Austin Neely, 9. John Henderson, 10. Parker Martin, 11. Cory Hedgecock, 12. Will Roland, 13. Jensen Ford, 14. Ryan Winchester, 15. Aaron Guinn, 16. Brenden Smith, 17. Josh Sneed, 18. Eli Beets, 19. Wil Herrington, 20. Dakotah Knuckles, 21. Matt Tharp, 22. Steve Smith

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