August 27, 2018 10:53:07 AM
Timothy Culp's 2018 season mostly has been one to forget.
The campaign has included him dropping off the World of Outlaws Tour -- his first on the year on the series -- a social media post in which he accused track promoters of turning a blind eye to cheaters, and, at one point, listing his hauler and race car for sale.
But the Arkansas native, who entered this weekend with just four top fives this year, held off a last-lap surge from Chad Thrash to win the Mississippi State Championship Challenge Series feature Saturday at Magnolia Motor Speedway. It was his first victory of the season.
"We needed to win pretty bad," Culp said. "We've had a lot of races that haven't gone in our favor."
Culp took the lead shortly after a caution on lap four, passing David Breazeale and running mostly unchallenged near the cushion before Thrash reached his door off turn four on the last lap.
Thrash, who entered the weekend second in State Series points, shot from fifth to second between laps 30 and 36 as the only car in the lead pack that was able to find grip along the bottom of the corners.
"When we took the white and went into (turn one), I got in there a little too soft and let the car get tight with me, and (Culp) was able to get enough gap that I knew I wouldn't get to him," Thrash said, "so I just run in there real hard to get up to his door. I wasn't going do anything crazy and take us both out."
Breazeale, who won the State Series race Friday at Hattiesburg, finished third. Breazeale, a three-time State Series points champion, raced in his home state for the first time this weekend. The Four Corners native has competed full time on the World of Outlaws series and is ninth in points. Breazeale, who drives for Billy Franklin, is competing on a national series for the first time.
Breazeale will return to the World of Outlaw series Sept. 21 at Outlaw Speedway in Dundee, New York.
"First thing you notice is how much hotter it is down here," Breazeale joked. "We got down here this weekend last night at Hattiesburg, and we were like, 'Holy crap, we're back in the South.' I enjoy being around here, and I have a lot of folks who like to see me race. This will be the only time I get to race here this year, so I'm happy we can get a top-five (finish) out of it."
Breazeale started on the pole and led a few laps early Saturday, but he said his car was too tight to run the top and keep up with Culp. He wasn't surprised Thrash passed him and nearly caught Culp, and he was relieved it wasn't a 50-lap race.
"The only thing I could hope for is (Culp) jump the cushion and maybe mess up to where we could pass him," Breazeale said. "But Culp did a great job. He's a good guy, and I'm glad to see him win."
Dane Dacus took fourth, and Rick Rickman finished fifth.
Neil Baggett, who entered the weekend leading the State Series points, had motor issues and finished 13th. He took sixth Friday at Hattiesburg.
"We felt something going on during qualifying -- thought we had an electrical issue -- but it turned out to be internal," Baggett said. "It hurt us qualifying -- no excuses, but it just wasn't our night."
In other race action, Evan Ellis won the Durrence Layne Late Model feature, his 14th of the season and 12th at Magnolia. Justin McRee finished second, while Steve Russell, Randall Beckwith, and Kyle Shaw rounded out the top five.
Tony Shelton drove Roman Ponds' No. 15 602 car and won his second-straight 602 Sportsman Late Model feature at Magnolia. Russ Brasel, Richard Cox, Chad McCool, and Mike Pickard rounded out the top five.
Jason Hollis won the Street Stocks feature. Lee Ray, TK King, Ben Keith, and Bryan Fortner rounded out the top five.
Scooter Ware won the Factory Stocks feature, his fifth at Magnolia this season. John Beard, Bill Sudduth, Cody Chism, and Aidan Fletcher rounded out the top five.