Neil Baggett (21xxx) won his third-straight Super Late Model race Saturday night at Magnolia Motor Speedway in Columbus. Photo by: David Miller/Special to The Dispatch
July 16, 2018 11:19:29 AM
Neil Baggett won his fifth Super Late Model race of the season Saturday at Magnolia Motor Speedway.
Baggett started second but grabbed the lead from Brian Rickman on the first lap. He weathered a pair of restarts in the last seven laps to win the Cliburn Tank Lines 15th-annual Governor's Cup, a $3,000-to-win Mississippi State Championship Challenge Series points race.
Baggett has won three-straight races, including two on the COMP Cams series. He leads the State Series points and has won two of the last four races on the series. Baggett hasn't finished outside of the top three in the last five State Series races.
"I just can't say enough about Prate Montgomery (car owner), this Rocket chassis, Advanced Logistics, Jeremy Harris, and Al Johnson -- guys like that helping me on this car," Baggett said. "They're keeping it on point. It makes my job so easy. It's tough out there, but I can't tell you how maneuverable that car is."
Baggett found his way around the top side of the track for the first 10 to 15 laps, but the surface slicked off significantly, giving Baggett a challenge he hadn't encountered during his winning streak.
"We knew it would be super slick," Baggett said. "It was a gamble on tires. The top three all went on hard tires, and I think that was a big difference. I was worried the first few laps, but I knew if we could just keep that momentum around the top and finally get to moving around, we'd be all right."
Brian Rickman finished second, while Rick Rickman, Billy Moyer Jr., and Michael Arnold rounded out the top five. Baggett leads the State Series points, while Brian Rickman is 15 points behind in second.
Brian Rickman reached
Baggett's door a couple of times within the first 10 laps but couldn't get around him. He had two chances with late-race cautions, and while he appeared to have a better restart after the second caution, Baggett pulled away by the time they reached turn one.
"The outside kind of got us on the start. It had a lot more moisture on the top on the start," Brian Rickman said. "(Baggett) was just a little bit better. I started getting tight in the center and started pushing a little bit and let him get away."
Brian Rickman said he'd preferred to stay in lap traffic because it would have given him a better chance to pass Baggett, who bemoaned the significantly slower Crate cars at the back of the field. More than five Crate cars entered the 19-car field.
"I'm not saying this to be boastful, but it's terrible when you have to run against Crate cars that are a second off the pace, and they're in your way," Baggett said. "There was one lap car out there, and (track officials) are saying, 'you're a lap down,' and he just chops down and hits me, and it bends something in the right front. It makes our job harder because they're all over the place. It sucks being that fast and having to deal with stuff like that."
Still, Baggett's spirits are high as he prepares for three more State Series races this month. The slate would have been more challenging than in previous years when he had his own race program, but he said he has been able to apply his racing time in other ways racing for Montgomery.
"Tires take forever, and (it takes a lot of time) keeping the trailer clean," Baggett said. "You can work on so much other stuff that you would neglect when you're worried about setting the car up, putting on scales, the shock machine and all that. It means a lot."
In other race action, Evan Ellis picked up his 10th Durrence Layne Late Model feature win of the season. Ellis started fifth and captured the lead on lap eight, splitting Klint Byars and Chad Thrash in turns three and four. Ellis held off a pair of late challenges from Byars as both worked their way through lap traffic. Byars nearly pulled level with Ellis in turn four on the last lap, but Ellis extended off the corner and held him off for the win.
Ellis is tied for the most wins (eight) in Durrence Layne's weekly points table and is tied for 27th despite competing in just 10 points races. Ellis has the highest winning percentage of any driver who has logged Durrence Layne points this year.
Bryan Fortner picked up his first Street Stocks points win and second overall at Magnolia this season, holding off Lee Ray, Jason Hollis, Jamie Sudduth, and Cale Hollingsworth. Ray leads the Magnolia's track points and the Durrence Layne's points table. Fortner is second in Magnolia's track points and third in Durrence Layne points.
Jamie Pickard won the Late Model Sportsman feature. Chace Pennington, Tony Shelton, Mike Pickard, and Allen Simmons rounded out the top five.
Jason Byrd won the Factory Stocks feature. Scooter Ware, Cody Chism, John Beard, and Allen Crawford rounded out the top five.
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