September 11, 2017 10:01:06 AM
There's something special about Spencer Hughes' right foot.
Car owner Randy Thompson feels Hughes' right foot is his greatest attribute.
In just his third Super Late Model race Saturday at Magnolia Motor Speedway, Hughes showed again why Thompson selected him pilot his car.
With three laps left, Hughes, passed Brian Rickman to win the 14th Annual Cliburn Tank Lines Governor's Cup Southern All Star Racing Series feature.
Hughes, Rickman, and Thompson agreed Hughes' tires gave him an advantage late in the race.
"He was rolling the middle a lot better than I could and had a lot better run," said Rickman, who'd built a three-second lead before a caution on lap 36. "My tire just kind of went away. Spencer's tires were better at the end. It's my fault for wearing my tires out."
Thompson said Hughes' throttle management is the best of the 28 drivers who have raced for him. Hughes' win is Thompson's 356th as an owner.
"Best I've seen, especially when the track is slick," Thompson said. "He can run softer rubber than anybody else because he's not going to burn your tires up. He just does not spin a tire."
Rickman finished second and flawlessly found his way through lap traffic after taking the lead on lap 10. In hindsight, he said letting up in lap traffic might have slowed down the rest of the field and helped him conserve his tires. Still, Hughes said he wouldn't have caught Rickman if the race stayed green.
"I knew Brian was going to run the top regardless, so I knew when I came up on him he'd tried to slide me and go on, so I just let him go and tried to make real smooth laps through the middle," Hughes said. "The top had just went away the last 10 laps of the race. It worked out in our favor."
Nick Thrash finished third, while Morgan Bagley and Chandler Petty rounded out the top five. Chad Thrash, who started on the pole, exited the race early and finished last.
Hughes' rise continues
Hughes has won two of his three Super Late Model races this season. He won $5,000 at the Fall 40 Street Stock Championship last week.
He will compete Friday at Greenville in the Mississippi State Championship Challenge Series race and in two weeks in the $20,000-to-win Magnolia State/Cotton Pickin' 100 at Magnolia.
Hughes said he entered Saturday's race hoping for a top-three finish, and the win was "as good as it gets in our little part of the country."
"It's surprised us, but we work as hard as we can for it every week," Hughes said. "We have the equipment to do it, and we'll continue on."
Thompson said Hughes' hard work and attention to detail reminds him of David Breazeale, one of his former drivers who began driving for him in 2005. Thompson said his maintenance program is intense, and Hughes immediately adapted to it, much like Breazeale did.
"We take this car apart every week," Thompson said. "Spencer practiced last night, went home, washed the car, took every shock and pull bar off it -- everything -- and checked every piece. That's my maintenance program every week.
"I couldn't be more proud of him than if I was up there winning the World 100 tonight. I'd love to go up there with this kid when we got some more time. He's got the mentality to be great."
In other race action, Marcus Minga won the NeSmith Late Model race. Kyle Shaw, Jeremy Shaw, Randall Beckwith, and Henry Pullen rounded out the top five.
Lee Ray won the Street Stocks feature. TK King, Rodney Wing, Matt Byram, and Bryan Fortner rounded out the top five.
Scooter Ware won the Factory Stocks feature. Bill Sudduth, John Beard, Corey Adank, and Mike Shaw rounded out the top five.
Jamie Pickard won the 602 Sportsman feature. Zack Shelton, Tony Shelton, Justin Bush, and Mike Ross rounded out the top five.