LUCAMA, N.C. – Rusty Daniels ended a winless streak dating back to May 2016 with his victory in Sunday night’s Spooktacular presented by NCDOT Click-It-Or-Ticket.
The veteran racer from Alliance, N.C., dominated the 100 lap Limited Late Model feature, leading 83 laps and surviving a series of late race restarts to score the win. Daniels had pulled away from the field, but a late race caution for a six car pileup setup a five lap shootout. Daniels held off a challenge from newcomer Jessica Dana in the final laps en route to victory – his first since May 28, 2016.
“It’s very special,” Daniels said. “We brought a different car that we’ve never run here and we tested two weeks ago, first time I’ve been on the racetrack with it. It’s 11-years-old but drives like a brand new one. Can’t thank Kevin Bell enough. We work hard on this stuff. We probably don’t do everything just right but we do it the way we want too. Can’t thank my family and everybody enough who have helped me with this thing.”
Daniels has been a contender all season long, both at Southern National Motorsports Park and at Carteret County Speedway, but victory lane had eluded him all season. He has led races and been involved in crashes or been sidelined due to mechanical failures or otherwise come up just short of winning. His consistency earned him the championship in the Eastern Carolina Late Model Mania Series.
“It stinks we weren’t in the NASCAR points deal,” Daniels remarked. “I was trying so hard, I want to win the state some kind of bad before I quit. It just works out the way it does, nothing we can do about that.”
Jessica Dana, making her Southern National Motorsports Park debut with Lee Pulliam Performance, finished in the runner-up spot, her best career finish in a Limited Late Model.
“We had a really good car all weekend,” Dana said. “We were struggling at first but we got it together and came back with a second-place finish. I really have to thank the team. They worked their butts off to get me where they are and my sponsors for making it possible to even be at the track.”
For Dana, the runner-up finish has her inching closer to victory after being sidelined from the sport a few years ago.
“I’ve worked my butt off to get where I am and everyone backing me has worked their butts off,” Dana remarked. “I’ve been through a lot. I’ve had to step out of racing, got back into racing and we’re making it happen when we need to.”
John Jones, father of Clay Jones, raced his way to a third place finish in the no. 15 car. Jones was racing in honor of his friend and longtime engine builder, Mike Harrell, who passed away earlier this month.
Colt James clinched the championship in the Fast Five Pro Late Model in style, with a victory in the final race of the season.
James won the second race in the Pro Late Model doubleheader, notching his ninth victory in the last 10 races and officially winning the division championship for the second consecutive year.
“We’re like the little team that could,” James said. “You’ll never beat me in heart. I always got more heart. We’re just like everybody in the stands, we’re blue collar. We go to work from 7-5 Monday through Friday, come out here and race our butts off and try to show that there’s still room for the little guy out here. We just try to win races.”
For the first time this season, however, James was denied victory at least once. Mason Diaz scored the victory in the first race in the doubleheader – his first career win in a Pro Late Model.
Brandon Clements picked up the victory in a wild 60 lap Hubert Vester Honda Mini Stock showdown.
Clements was involved in a crash early on in the race but was able to race his way back up through the field and to the lead. Once Clements, who started on the pole, got back to the lead, he pulled away for his first career Southern National Motorsports Park Mini Stock division win.
“We struggled the past two days and to come here and have the dominant car the whole race is just awesome” Clements remarked. “Not sure what happened on that restart, just couldn’t get going there. The original pilot of the car is here tonight and he’s the one who scored 21 wins in one year and now we just matched him. Feels very good to do that. Grew up watching this car win races, it’s just awesome.”
Clements has been dominant in the Mini Stock division this year outside of Southern National Motorsports Park, scoring wins at Carteret County Speedway, Myrtle Beach Speedway, Wake County Speedway and at a handful of other tracks.
Stephen Sanders finished second while Joseph Pittman, who was also involved in an early race accident, finished third.
Don Wooten scored the victory in the Any Car division over Jake Martin and Joseph Pittman while Chris Floars won in the Legends race and Cameron Murray held off a hard charging Emily Day to win the Bandolero race.