Great American Dirt Track
Phillips wins Showdown for $12,000 at Jetmore
JETMORE, Kan. (July 7) — After more than a year of struggles in his Dirt Late Model program, Terry Phillips had found his way back to victory lane over the past month. On Saturday, he found his way back to a big paycheck.
Leading the final 39 laps at the Great American Dirt Track, the 46-year-old driver from Springfield, Mo., grabbed the $12,000 winner’s purse with his victory in the Showdown, a special event sanctioned by the MARS DIRTcar Series and Championship Late Model Association DIRTcar tour. | Video | Slideshow
After finishing second in Friday’s tuneup race to Jesse Stovall of Galena, Mo., Phillips quickly rallied from his ninth starting spot Saturday and raced to the front at the 3/8-mile oval.
“We were trying some stuff the last couple of nights there in practice, and all I did was mess it up (Friday). So we just went back to basics and the car was good tonight. Everything kind of came together for us,” said Phillips, who had won five of his last seven Late Model starts. “We ran the top of the track, while it had some moisture in it. I knew I had to get going.
“The car was awesome again. Bloomquist builds a helluva a race car ... We’re just feeling pretty good,” the six-time MARS champion said following his 79th career victory on the series.
Sixth-starting Tony Jackson Jr. of Lebanon, Mo., finished a distance second while Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., was third. Former Showdown winner John Anderson of Omaha, Neb., and Morgan Bagley of Longview, Texas, rounded out the top five. Stovall had an early flat tire and tangle that knocked him from contention, but he came back to finish eighth in the 50-lap main event.
At the outset, outside front-row starter Eric Turner of Springfield, Mo., edged ahead to lead the first lap before polesitter Gary Christian of Broken Bow, Okla., took control. Phillips quickly jetted into the top five after just one lap.
Christian was out front when a few early cautions slowed the action, first for a turn-four spin for a backmarker, then for the Stovall-Clay Daly tangle at the turn two exit.
On the restart, Phillips jumped to the high side in the fourth position and began clicking off positions. He took the third spot from Jackson, then grabbed second from Turner. He began reeling in Christian, who had reached lapped traffic after 10 laps.
With Phillips still on the high side and Christian down low, Phillips was about to overtake the leader when the slower car of Cliff Morrow was in his path on the backstretch. Phillips ducked to the middle groove, squirting between Morrow and Christian to take a lead he’d never give up.
Christian began showing smoke and losing positions before the halfway point, and he eventually dropped out with a 21st-place finish, but Phillips motored on. Jackson kept him from making it a runaway, staying within striking distance as the frontrunners worked through lapped traffic near the lap-40 mark.
But when Phillips maneuvered his way through the slower cars faster than Jackson, it was all over as he wrapped up the five-figure payday in a race where the final 32 laps went caution-free.
“I felt like we might of had something for Terry there and got into lapped cars," Jackson said, "but lapped cars are part of the race, so what do you do?”
Notes: Phillips drives a Bloomquist Race Car powered by a Roush Yates Ford engine and sponsored by Andy’s Frozen Custard and Don Babb Motorsports. ... Tony Jackson Jr.’s $5,000 payoff for second place was the richest racing paycheck of his career. ... Third-place finisher Ricky Thornton Jr. ran his longest Late Model race. ... Modified standout Jason Hughes of Watts, Okla., piloted the backup car of fellow Oklahoma modified driver Tommy Weder Jr.; Weder, who won his first Late Model race earlier in the week in Enid, Okla., finished seventh and Hughes was ninth. ... Next up for MARS and CLMA competitors is a Sunday event at Liberal (Kan.) Fairgrounds Speedway. The race was originally scheduled for Beaver County Speedway, but moved because of drought conditions at the Beaver, Okla., oval.
Showdown: (1) Terry Phillips, (2) Tony Jackson Jr., (3) Ricky Thornton Jr., (4) John Anderson, (5) Morgan Bagley, (6) Eric Turner, (7) Tommy Weder Jr., (8) Jesse Stovall, (9) Jason Hughes, (10) Clay Daly, (11) Garrett Alberson, (12) Scott Lewis, (13) Justin Asplin, (14) Mike Stadel, (15) Brandon Morton, (16) Steve Johnson, (17) Cliff Morrow, (18) Vince Wagoner, (19) Brad Wagoner, (20) Delbert Smith, (21) Gary Christian, (22) Jeep Berry, (23) Kyle Hill, (24) Al Humphrey, (25) Leroy Johnson, (26) Jered Maas, (27) Jeff Whyman. Heat race winners (among 28 cars): Turner, Christian, Morton, Hughes.