Nick Thrash celebrates his Late Model Sportsman win. Photo by: David Miller/Special to The Dispatch
July 30, 2018 10:23:06 AM
It seems like Lee Ray is chasing points just about everywhere.
The Steens native races every weekend, sometimes on Fridays and Saturdays. He leads track points at Columbus Speedway and Magnolia Motor Speedway and is second in Durrence Layne Street Stock national points.
After winning his 11th feature of the season Saturday at Magnolia, the former Mississippi Street Stocks points champion maintained he isn't chasing points -- he's having fun.
"I just like racing," Ray said. "We've been going every week. We wind up having good runs, and I'm up in the points. The points will mess with you if you get to chasing them."
Ray said the schedule doesn't affect him unless he wrecks and has to repair the car. But with help from his father, Bobby, and race day chief John Hall, he's able to maintain the "fun" in the sport, even when he's reminded of his points positions.
"I hear it all the time," Ray said. "My wife (Christi) watches it a bunch. I look on her thing on the computer some, but I don't keep up with it. She says, 'Let's go here and race, and we go.' We pretty much do what she wants do."
Ray held off TK King on Saturday as the field tried to adjust to a bottom-dominant track. But King had his moments, particularly on laps seven and eight, when he squeezed inside Ray's left rear fender.
"I wasn't going to give (King) the bottom," Ray said. "I was going to make him earn it."
A caution on lap nine zapped whatever momentum King had built up. King took second, while Eddie Rickman, Bryan Fortner, and Jason Hollis rounded out the top five.
"I just kept thinking that maybe we could roll on the outside of it, but it seems like anytime that we rolled on that outside of (Ray), we couldn't get it," King said. "The dominant spot was down there around the (skidder) tires. I don't know if our tires kind of went away there at the end. The car felt like it started washing out."
King hasn't won at Magnolia since April 27. While he has been a staple in the top five each week, he said his race program is trending upward. He credited John Keith with troubleshooting the front end of his Jeremy Sexton-built car.
King also has transitioned from leaf springs on his old No. 6 Camaro to coil springs on his new car. He's getting used to "driving off the right front" each week.
"The car's performance has been night and day," King said. "I think we got a win coming pretty soon."
In other action, Evan Ellis continued his Late Model dominance in 2018, starting on the pole and leading every lap of the Durrence Layne Late Model feature. The win was Ellis' 10th at Magnolia this season, where he leads Randall Beckwith by 134 points in track points.
Klint Byars closed the gap briefly Saturday night, but he checked up off turn two on lap 13 to avoid slamming into the wall. Steve Russell took second, while Byars, who hasn't finished worse than third in four tries at Magnolia this season, took third. Kyle Shaw and Scott Dedwylder took fourth and fifth, respectively.
Nick Thrash won his fifth Sportsman feature in seven tries at Magnolia this season. Thrash started third but quickly took the lead. He and Jamie Pickard separated themselves from the field at lap five. And while Pickard gained ground on Thrash as both ran middle to top, Thrash eventually cruised to a comfortable finish.
Scooter Ware won the Factory Stock feature. John Beard, Chase Pennington, Bill Sudduth, and Jeff Phillips rounded out the top five.