Hamlin stays perfect in SMS Late Model action

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Staff report

Denny Hamlin moved his Late Model Stock Car record to four-for-four for the season Friday night at the Southampton Motor Speedway, taking the lead from pole sitter Mark McFarland midway through ther 200-lap race and never letting up. With the win, Hamlin set up a bid for the $25,000 &uot;RaceRap.com Run For The Riches&uot; bonus in the series finale on Sept. 19.

&uot;I tell you, we had a great race car. It couldn’t have been better,&uot; Hamlin said. &uot;It was just great. I never thought we’d be able to win two in a row, much less three or four. To come here and beat some of the best – Jamey Caudill, Phil Warren, Brandon Butler and Mark McFarland — it feels real good.&uot; Caudill took third, McFarland second, and Butler 16th.(his engine expired on lap 161).

Email newsletter signup

Powered by a newly installed &uot;crate motor,&uot; John Staton went door-to-door with McFarland before stealing the lead from him at lap 14. Widening his lead to several car-lengths, Staton caught up with the back of the pack on lap 35, and held a comfortable lead until the caution flag waved on lap 53. Back under green, Staton and Hamlin broke away from McFarland, and both pitted when the flag waved again on lap 70, giving Hamlin the lead (Staton’s third trip to the pits cost him a full lap).

By lap 115, Hamlin had taken a half-straightaway lead. Staton had cut it to car-lengths by lap 122, but Hamlin regained his long lead as the race moved into the 150s. The caution flag waved on lap 180 and the lead-lap cars were pulled to the front of the field, effectively ending Staton’s chances. Hamlin pulled away from Caudill by a bit more than a car-length, and won by 1.501 seconds.

In Limited Late Model action, Steve Zuskin took the lead for good on lap 21 and drove to his fifth victory of the year. He started at the pole at 90.657 mph, and paced the first 13 laps before falling behind Ken Rountree.

Rountree led until bumping a slower car at lap 21, sending him to the pits and Zuskin to the lead. Nearing the end of the race, Zuskin tailed several slower cars. Rather than risk a crash, however, he gave up a bit of his lead and coasted to the finish line. Anthony Warren took second place, Joe Cohen third, and Rountree fourth.

Stanley Holmes won the Mid-Atlantic Champ Karts race (which his son Stan led for a bit) by a single car length. The race was interrupted by only one caution flag.

Brian Bradley and Scott Roser came out on top in Super Fours races, as Bradley came in first in the Mini Stock race and Roser grabbed his first victory of the season in Mini Truck action. Chris Florian won a caution-free Arena-Cup Cars race.

Southampton Motor Speedway will be closed on Friday, Sept. 5, in deference to NASCAR activities at Rich-mond International Raceway. The track will re-open on Friday, Sept. 12, with Champion Chevy/Buick/Pontiac/GMC Night presented by Dean Mechanical.