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Falk Invades Southern National and Takes Home Two Trophies

Falk Invades Southern National and Takes Home Two Trophies

Story by: Mark Rogers, Jr. ~ mark@RACE22.com

Lucama, NC(July 16, 2012) — Once again, Southern National Motorsports Park and its 17 degree high banked corners played host to a star studded field of hot rods for Twin 75 lap features. Like last week, hot shot drivers such as Lee Pulliam, Matt McCall, Frank Deiny Jr and for the first time Eddie Johnson made grand appearances to compete. This week saw CE Falk’s return after learning that he was on top of the National Points race. Also making big waves in the National Points series and making his debut at Southern National was Kingsport Speedway track point’s leader Nate Monteith. With so much attention to the so called big boys in Late Models, how can anyone dare to forget the success of current track point’s leader Deac McCaskill?

Race action got underway with 3 practice sessions early on in the afternoon. CE Falk, Deac McCaskill and Paddy Rodenbeck showed fast laps but pit talked suggest speed was lacking on the high banked oval as times were about 2 tenths off. Some said tires, others said the track and a few said we just don’t know. With that note sets up qualifying for the Twin 75s and turning in the fast lap claiming pole was CE Falk,(15.574) just 4 thousandths quicker then Doug Godsey,(15.578). After struggling in practice all day Friday and more of the same on Saturday. Darrell Gilchrist qualified third with Deac McCaskill in forth and Tennessee native Nate Monteith in his first showing at the track fifth.

Other notables were Terry Dease (6th) who was as confident as we’ve seen him all year. I asked Terry before the race was he going to ride a bit and then go towards the end. He looked up,” If they don’t go, you better believe I will”! Michael Hardin had a rough qualifying effort and elected to take the penalty by starting in the rear to make changes to his car for the race. No doubt the track or maybe the conditions gave race teams virtual havoc on the set ups on this day but many just wanted to get the racing going. So with that all being said and CE Falk as the pole winner, stages up the first of two 75 laps features at Southern National Motorsports Park!

Under the bright lights and a good crowd in the stands, green flag waves as CE Falk leads a talented full field of Late Models for 75 laps. Quickly, outside front row starter Doug Godsey tucks behind Falk single file as Falk flexes muscle to secure the lead. Further back as the field sorts itself finds the front leaders being chased nose to tail by McCaskill, Gilchrist and Dease now in the fifth position. Many laps would go by and Falk was on a tear trying to distant himself from Godsey. With just 20 circuits in, Falk’s lead was nearly a half a straightaway over Godsey who at this point was being challenged by McCaskill. Godsey would hold off McCaskill but on back, everyone was content in there position.

Falk was continuing his assault on the field and by lap 32 saw the first of many to go a lap down to the Va Beach native. It’s not until lap 41 that the first caution flag would wave for debris and the massive lead that Falk was enjoying, just like that, was all gone. Double file cone restarts are always exciting and there’s no reason to suspect any less here. While Godsey goes behind Falk, McCaskill takes the high side of the cone to battle Falk for the lead. Green flag flies and Falk is slow to get going, McCaskill by a car length now but Falk dives hard underneath and retakes the lead. Then our second caution flies as Hunter Devers slides up the hill and slams the outside wall in turn 1. Devers, now out of his car points at Rodenbeck casting blame for this caution.

Lap 44 restart and this time CE Falk puts it down and grabs the lead coming out of turn 2. McCaskill would give chase but Falk at this point was untouchable, then Darrell Gilchrist car comes to life and is now making moves. Others on the move now are Nate Monteith and Brandon Brown. But then as lap 73 clicks on the board, Terry Dease and Michael Rouse get together to bring out the caution. But down in the pits is Nate Monteith who appears to have mechanical issues as later learned that Monteith broke an axel. Still under caution, Dease catches up to Rouse’s car side by side now clapping his hands at Rouse. Then suddenly on the next go around saw Rouse turn Dease into the wall while under caution in front of the flagman. Both cars were able to finish the race.

Green, white, checkers now on this Lap 73 restart. One last chance for McCaskill, Gilchrist and Godsey to make a move on leader CE Falk but it wasn’t to be as Falk motors to the checkered flag to win the first 75 lap feature. Gilchrist in his best finish at Southern National is 2nd while Godsey is a solid 3rd. McCaskill who was falling off in the end settles for 4th and Brandon Brown with a tough 5th place finish. Field inversion is how things will roll for the second feature as the top 8 cars will invert. That places Michael Hardin who started at the rear for the first race on pole for the second by virtue of his 8th place finish. An inversion does two things, to intentionally handicap faster cars or become a breeding ground for cautions. So what will it be???

Race feature number two is for 75 laps as well, only minor changes allowed to the cars. Tires can be staggered and repositioned back on the car as teams deem fit. As for the winner of race one, he’ll start 8th based on the inversion and with some really great cars in front of him. Can Falk get through the field in 75 laps and contend for the win? Or can Michael Hardin, Dylan Lupton, Paddy Rodenbeck, Brandon Brown take advantage of the inversion and go on to their first win at Southern National in 2012? Lots of questions as there is opportunity for this second 75 lap feature and this is how this race all came down.

Green flag waves for Michael Hardin and 17 other Late Models as racing action resumes. Dylan Lupton is slow to get going and stacks up the field as Hardin gets away as this unfolds. But as soon as lap 2 goes on the board, caution waves for Shelton McNair as he is found pointing the wrong way in turn 4. Unknown if he had any help but the top 5 at the moment was Hardin the leader, followed by Lupton who recovered from the bad start to the race. Then Rodenbeck, McCaskill and Brown with anticipation for a lap 2 restart. Back to green now and it doesn’t take long for another caution to wave as Thomas Burbage and Melvin Langley are all involved. After another debris caution, racing gets back underway and Hardin quickly rids himself of the field in the lead.

By lap 15, the inversion did its thing and saw Michael Hardin on a tear of his own. With a huge lead by at least a half a straightaway, Hardin was in control with McCaskill giving chase. Falk is now third with Godsey in tow for fourth and Lupton the top 5. Just a few laps later saw CE Falk go by McCaskill for second as the field has singled out with no real challenges for position. Many more laps would go by and Falk was the car advancing to the front. But then the caution flies once again and Hardin’s 7 car length lead vanishes. Paddy Rodenbeck and Dylan Lupton are involved as Lupton gets the worst of it. Moments later over the race scanner goes the call for Rodenbeck to go to the rear.

Lap 37 restart and Falk elects to take the cone to the outside of Hardin. Green flag flies as Falk’s machine sticks better then Hardin’s and secures the point. Further back as things settle finds Godsey claiming third, McCaskill to forth and Gilchrist now in the top 5. Now getting late in the race, Falk continues to lead but Hardin refusing to let this opportunity go stays on pace with the leader. Big news at this point is that McCaskill is fading and losing positions one by one. By lap 60 and on a rail is CE Falk with at least a 10 car length lead. Hardin stayed on the leader but appears to have used up his stuff matching up laps with the Falk. On back its remains the same as Godsey, Gilchrist and Brandon Brown the top 5.

Lap 70 clicks and CE Falk is showing the way, moments earlier saw Deac McCaskill go down a lap as his car continues to fall off and would have to salvage a top 10 finish. Clearly a much unexpected night for the current track points leader. As laps whine down, not much movement with the exception of Terry Dease rebounding and getting around Brown for fifth. As checkers would wave, CE Falk crosses the line first and sweeps the Twin 75s at Southern National. Michael Hardin was second, Doug Godsey with another solid third place finish. Darrell Gilchrist with his best finishes since his win at SOBO on April 7th came home forth. Terry Dease in a solid effort rebounds from misfortunes in race one to finish fifth in the second.