At the beginning of the 2021 Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals, driver Donald McIntosh was hopeful that he and his David Bryant-led Blount Motorsports team would be able to find some magic that might turn a somewhat mediocre season around. At first, though, it did not necessarily appear as if that was going to happen. However, a new plan midway through the two-week tour changed the fortunes of the Larry Garner-owned Rocket Chassis operation.
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McIntosh’s nine-race campaign started off well enough with a 4th place result in the series opener at West Virginia’s Beckley Motorsports Park. But after that, less inspiring finishes of 10th, 8th, and 11th followed at I-75 Raceway, West Georgia Raceway and Screven Motor Speedway respectively.
It was after the fourth feature race at Screven that crew chief Bryant decided it was time for his outfit to try something different. Along with the primary No. 7m car, the BMS hauler was also carrying the No. 4T machine typically used on a part-time basis by teammate Tommy Kerr. The results that followed the decision to employ the backup ride proved to be nothing short of impressive.
A Southern Nationals title would be the end result.
“At the start of this two weeks ago, we’ve been through so much,” McIntosh told FloRacing.com during the presentation of his championship trophy following the finale at Tazewell(TN) Speedway. “Actually we’re in Tommy’s car, we started this deal in the 7 and we kept making changes and felt like we couldn’t make any difference to the race car. Finally, Dave was like ‘let’s pull that 4 car out, I think it will be alright’. We pulled it out and it’s been just a different world.”
McIntosh explained that the backup provided him with a more comfortable feel. Although no feature win came about, there were three consecutive runner-up results along with two more top-5s to secure the series honors. “We felt changes but we didn’t get us a win,” the 28-year-old driver declared. “But we got close three or four times.”
The traditional end point for the Southern Nationals has always been at the Tazewell Speedway. Early in his career, that is not a situation that would have inspired confidence in the Dawsonville, Georgia native. However, things have changed as he has gained more experience and a greater appreciation for that unique venue.
“I got behind in qualifying tonight and put us behind, but we were able to pass some cars,” he said in his post-race interview. “I’ll tell you what, when I first started racing here, I didn’t really like this race track too much but it’s gotten to be a lot of fun to race on. You can pass on it, run side-by-side. What a great night. I can’t thank these guys enough for staying behind me. Like I said, it’s been a long road to finally get one of these checks. The points championship means a lot. We’ve been doing it a while and it’s a pretty cool deal.”
The 5th place finish on the high-banked track proved to be enough to secure the long sought after championship. Although McIntosh had won two Spring Nationals titles, which fall under the umbrella of Ray Cook-promoted events, he had never been crowned at the end of the Schaeffer’s Oil-sponsored marquee tour until this past Saturday night. The reward was a check valued at $10,053.
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