Monday, April 16, 2018

Horton & Hale Headline Points Opener At Senoia Raceway

Submitted by Ted Austad
Photo credits: Francis Hauke

(Senoia, GA – April 15, 2018)  The defending champion of the Southern All-Stars Late Model Tour returned to his racing roots on Saturday night as the South’s Baddest Bull Ring, Senoia Raceway, opened it’s 2018 points season.  Whitesburg’s Austin Horton claimed the opening night honors in the Super Late Models while LaGrange’s Dennis Hale topped the Limited Late Models opening night feature race.  Horton also nabbed a second place run in the Crate Late Models.

Other points opener winners included 13-year-old Joshua Till of McDonough in the Mini Stock; Winston’s Marty Massey in the Crate Late Models; Alabama’s Dylan Knowles in the Late Model Sportsman; Tanner Collins of Franklin in the Griffin Hose & Hydraulics Chargers; Ted Willingham of McDonough in the Hobby; Alabama’s Dunie Dillard in Bomber and Dean Williams of Lanett, AL in the Hot Shots.

“The season is a long road that will include some great moments and some tough ones,” said promoter Mayes Massey. “Tonight was just the beginning of that charge for the championship.  But, when you do accomplish a title and you do it at a place like Senoia Raceway, it is quite the accomplishment and earns you respect from everyone in short track racing.”

Three-time defending Super Late Model point champion, Clint ‘Cat Daddy’ Smith of Senoia, bolted to the initial lead of the first round feature race.  Smith built a good lead over Horton until lap sixteen when he came upon the lapped car of 15-year-old Kyler Haygood of Douglaville.  Haygood was trying to get to the bottom of the track when he and Smith traded paint.  Horton sped past as the two untangled from each other.  It was the defining moment in a race that saw three wide battles behind the leaders.

Horton cruised on to the victory while Smith settled for the number two spot.  Fayetteville’s Ricky Williams was third ahead of Thomaston’s Shane Fulcher and Douglasville’s ‘Racin’ Mason Massey.

In the Limited Late Model feature, fast qualifier Rucker Orr of Newnan and Dennis Hale squared off and in a classic Senoia Raceway side by side battle.  Orr was using the top side of the track keep his ride’s momentum while Hale hugged the inside concrete wall choosing the shortest route around the tight confines of the Bull Ring.  Hale overtook Orr on the fifth circuit and the never looked back posting his second win of the young season.  Former Limited Late Model points champion, Joey Armistead of Senoia, was second as Orr faded late in the race to finish third.  Fayetteville’s Bailey Williams was fourth while Griffin’s Bobby Mills rounded out the first five.

An unexpected finish to the Late Model Sportsman ‘Spring Ca-Ching’ helped secure the growing legend of the gumbo clay surface, that the race at Senoia Raceway is never over until the checkered flag falls.  ‘Thrillin’ Dylan Knowles led at the drop of the green, but received a strong challenge through the opening laps from eighteen-year-old Brandon McDaniel of Byron.  McDaniel made a strong move exiting turn four on lap six that saw him almost get up under Knowles at the flagstand.  He made a move outside, but clipped the concrete wall breaking a front wheel and then sending him hard into the turn one concrete where his car burst into flames.  McDaniel exited quickly and was unhurt.

When racing resumed it McDaniel’s older bother Wiley that came up to challenge Knowles for the race lead.  Wiley made the pass on lap 18 and began to pull away to what looked to be an easy victory over Knowles.  But with three laps to go, Wiley McDaniel also slammed into the outside wall ending his campaign for the night and giving the lead back to Knowles.

Knowles did not let it go again as he claimed his third win of the season and the ‘Spring Ca-Ching’ victory.  Fellow Alabaman Chris Arnett finished in second while Locust Grove’s Billy ‘The Kid’ Stevenson was third.  ‘Kid Smooth’ Levi Campbell of McDonough and Macon’s Cory Compton rounded out the top five.

An emotional victory was enjoyed by most everyone after the Mini Stock feature.  Thirteen-year-old Joshua Till of McDonough overtook Newnan’s Tommy Faulkner with six laps remaining and then held off Locust Grove’s Jamie Nicholson, Sr and Faulkner to win his first career feature at Senoia Raceway.  It was a fan favorite victory as Till is the grandson of Dirt Racing Hall of Famer Mike Head who won so many races at Senoia Raceway during his storied career.

Tanner Collins came from the back of the pack to win his first career feature at Senoia Raceway on Saturday night.  Collins was leading the Griffin Hose & Hydraulics Chargers feature when he spun out on lap two.  The youngster had to go to the back of the pack for the restart, but was able to work his way through the field overtaking fourteen-year-old, lady racer McKenna Nelms of Newnan with four laps remaining.  Collins sped away to post the win while Alabama’s Michael Blankeney motored up to finish in second ahead of Nelms.

Marty Massey won his first feature in a number of years as he went flag to flag in the Crate Late Model main event.  Massey retired from racing years ago, but was bitten by the bug again last season.  He kept everyone behind him on Saturday night claiming the checkered flag ahead of Austin Horton who raced two divisions and LaGrange’s Dusty Jones. 

“I knew the car was fast, but I did not know if I could make it 20 laps,” said a tired, but chuckling Marty Massey. “It’s been a while for this old guy.”

Ted Willingham dominated the Hobby feature while Dunie Dillard won his fourth Bomber feature of the season leading every single lap.  It was Dean Williams first win of the 2018 season in Hot Shots.

Senoia Raceway will crank back up this Saturday, April 21 as the track team’s up with area businesses raising awareness for Autism.  ‘Fight Autism Night’ at Senoia Raceway will offer proceeds going to help in the awareness of Autism while also featuring a full night of racing in the Super Late Models, Limited Late Models, Crate Late Models, Late Model Sportsman, Hobby, Mini, Bomber and Hot Shots.  The Legends Cars are also on the schedule and NVRA Vintage Cars will bring back memories of the yesteryear of racing at Senoia Raceway.

Tickets for this weekend’s special event are $15, kids 5-12 are $5 while ages four and under are admitted for free.  Pit passes and trackside parking passes are $30, kids 5-12 are $20 and ages four and under are free.

The pit area and trackside parking opens at 4pm while the grandstands open at 5pm.  Hot laps will crank up at 6:15pm and racing is set to begin at 7:30pm.

For additional information, event schedule, ticket prices and more, visit the track website at or call the speedway at 770.599.6161.

Official Results – Saturday, April 14, 2018

Super Late Models (Feature):  1-Austin Horton, Whitesburg  2-Clint Smith, Senoia  3-Ricky Williams, Fayetteville  4-Shane Fulcher, Thomaston  5-Mason Massey, Douglasville  6-Dillon Tidmore, Gadsden, AL  7-Jody Knowles, Tyrone  8-Cody King, McDonough  9-Lamar Haygood, Douglasville  10-Larry Harrod, Plains  11-Jaon Lively, Jacksonville, AL  12-Kyler Haygood, Douglasville  13-Travis Pennington, Stapleton  14-Dalton Cook, Columbus  Fast Qualifier: Horton (15.207 – 88.8 mph)

Limited Late Models (Feature):  1-Dennis Hale, LaGrange  2-Joey Armistead, Senoia  3-Rucker Orr, Newnan  4-Bailey Williams, Fayetteville  5-Bobby Mills, Griffin  6-Chad Wallace, LaGrange  7-Chris Carr, Newnan  8-Corey Payton, Newnan  9-Russ Ogletree, Phenix City, AL  10-Brant Hardin, McDonough  Fast Qualifier: Orr (16.086 – 83.9 mph)

Crate Late Models (Feature):  1-Marty Massey, Winston  2-Austin Horton, Whitesburg  3-Dusty Jones, LaGrange  4-Jamie Maurice, McDonough  5-Matthew Wyatt, Eastonolee  6-Wayne Harbin, Sharpsburg  7-Colby Darda, LaGrange  8-Tina Johnson, Senoia  9-Austin Hill, Winston  10-Jake Traylor, LaGrange  11-Jason Turner, McDonough  12-Dow Kirkland, Lake Spivey  Fast Qualifier: Horton (15.717 – 85.9 mph)

Late Model Sportsman ‘Spring Ca-Ching’ (Feature):  1-Dylan Knowles, Lanett, AL  2-Chris Arnett, Lanett, AL  3-Billy Stevenson, Locust Grove  4-Levi Campbell, Jackson  5-Cory Compton, Macon  6-Steve Pate, Heflin, AL  7-Keith Fields, Griffin  8-Ted Minnix, McDonough  9-William Blair, Whitesburg  10-Chris Steele, Franklin  11-Jack Mills, Griffin  12-Colton Leyendecker, Crestview, FL  13-Randy Cornwell, Fayetteville  14-Shane Payton, Newnan  15-Chad Wallace, LaGrange  16-Wiley McDaneil, Byron  17-Dustin Newell, Gray  18-Brandon McDaniel, Byron  Fast Qualifier: Knowles (15.951 – 84.6 mph)

Griffin Hose & Hydraulics Sportsman Charger (Feature): 1-Tanner Collins, Franklin  2-Michael Blankeney, AL  3-McKenna Nelms, Newnan  4-Dave McWilliams, Brooks  5-Kayla Boswell, Winston  6-Jamie Nicholson, Jr., Locust Grove  7-Johnny Stinchcomb, Newnan

Hobby (Feature):  1-Ted Willingham, McDonough  2-Keith West, Powder Springs  3-Jamie Garner, Mableton  4-Larry Bednar, Locust Grove  5-Josh Pitt, Stockbridge  6-Michael Couch, Senoia  7-Phillip Wallace, Locust Grove  8-Tim Harmon, Conyers  9-Brandon Henderson, Senoia  Fast Qualifier: Willingham (16.954 – 79.6 mph)

Bomber (Feature):  1-Dunie Dillard, Phenix City, AL  2-Dorough Bright, Newnan  3-Curtis Turner, Brooks  4-Abe Chase, Valley, AL  5-Mike Nelms, Newnan  6-Shannon Stephens, Franklin  7-Larry Pierce, Locust Grove  8-Wilson Boozer, Jackson  DNS: Scott Amoson, Newnan; John Holder, Milner  Fast Qualifier: Dillard (17.942 – 75.3 mph)

Mini Stock (Feature):  1-Joshua Till, McDonough  2-Jamie Nicholson, Sr., Locust Grove  3-Tommy Faulkner, Newnan  4-Bobby Faulkner, Newnan  5-Harold Leath, Hampton  6-John Caldwell, Senoia  7-Jeff Dean, Heflin, AL  Fast Qualifier: Tommy Faulkner (18.809 – 71.8 mph)

Hot Shots (Feature): 1-Dean Williams, Lanett, AL  2-Nathan Farrow, LaGrange  3-Cale Burford, Milner  4-Ernest Turner  5-Stacey Henderson, Senoia