Chilton Convincing In $10,053 Tazewell Southern Nationals Series Triumph; McIntosh Claims Title

Story By: RYAN DELPH / SOUTHERN NATIONALS SERIES – TAZEWELL, TN – Parity is the perfect single word to sum up the 2021 version of the Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals Series, as Championship Night at Tazewell Speedway on July 31 not only produced the ninth different winner in the nine point races that escaped inclement weather, but the miniseries also crowned a brand-new Champion!

Michael Chilton, of Salvisa, Kentucky, won his heat race and later started the ‘Ray Varner Ford 53’ from the outside of the front row. Michael then took the lead at the drop of the green flag and proceeded to wire the feature field to capture the $10,053 payday in front of the huge throng of fans that packed the stands at the Tazewell, Tennessee oval.

While Chilton was out front leading the way for all 53 circuits, the racing action behind him was fast and furious. Dale McDowell also won a heat race in preliminary action before moving up to the second spot and eventually earning a runner-up performance – only 0.501 seconds behind Chilton’s #97 machine. Ninth-starting Zack Mitchell was able to steer his BWRC ride past six competitors to grab the final spot on the podium. Polesitter Ross Bailes ran in the second position through the first half of the contest before slipping to fourth at the checkers, while Donald McIntosh made a sterling sixteenth-to-fifth run to clinch the Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals Series Championship.

“I was watching that scoreboard and I knew that Dale (McDowell) was probably going to be the guy to beat when he got to running that bottom there,” quoted Chilton after collecting the five-figure payday. “I just knew I needed to try to protect the bottom and save some tire. Dale – he’s the master of saving for the end. I got pretty worried there when I got to a couple of those lapped cars and I felt like they were pulling away from me. I was just trying not to make mistakes and we got it done!”

Michael became the 45th different driver to win on the miniseries tour, which celebrates its 17th year of existence in 2021. Chilton drove a XR1 Rocket Chassis with sponsorship from MKC Transport, Caton Industrial Painting, C&C Redi-Mix, Edgewood Homes, Park View Home Center, Equiplinc Auction Group, and Slicker Graphics to the victory in the ‘Ray Varner Ford 53.’

While he was unable to pick up a series victory this year, Donald McIntosh, of Dawsonville, Georgia, was extremely consistent in capturing the $10,053 Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals Series Championship for the first time. After struggling to find the desired speed in his regular #7M machine during the first few series races, the Blount Motorsports team made the decision to unload teammate Tommy Kerr’s racecar and never finished outside of the top five with the #4T. Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer Dale McDowell made a late rally to finish second in points – sixteen markers behind, while Dirt Draft Rookie of the Year Cody Overton was impressive in placing third in the final point tally. Jensen Ford narrowly edged out Kenny Collins to finish fourth and fifth respectively. Series regulars Garrett Smith, Benjamin Cranford, Jeff Neubert, and Ahnna Parkhurst wound up in positions 6-9 following the final point race of the tour.

“I got behind qualifying tonight and put us behind, but we were able to pass some cars, exclaimed McIntosh during the post-race celebration. “When I first started racing here, I didn’t really like this racetrack too much, but it has gotten to be a lot of fun to race on. You can pass on it and run side-by-side. What a great night. I can’t thank these guys enough for standing behind me. It’s been a long road to finally get one of these (Southern Nationals) championships. It means a lot. We’ve been doing it a while and it’s a pretty cool deal!”

The final point race of the Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals Series tour drew a 30 car field to the bad-fast Tazewell Speedway, which wrapped up the championship hunt for the seventeenth straight year. Rookie of the Year runner-up Garrett Smith clicked off the fastest lap overall during the FK Rod Ends qualifying session by touring the high-banks in a mere 11.231 seconds. Heat races were won by Ross Bailes, Dale McDowell, Michael Chilton, and Dakotah Knuckles, while the consolation event victories went to Ahnna Parkhurst and Austin Neely. Jensen Ford and Kenny Collins took use of series provisionals to gain access into the 53-lap main event and Jeff Neubert was forced to use an emergency provisional.

Even though the points have been decided for 2021, there is still one more race on the Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals Series calendar for Sunday, August 1. A non-point event to make-up a July 19 rain-out at the ultra-fast Volunteer Speedway will take place tomorrow evening in Bulls Gap, Tennessee. A $4,053 top prize will be on the line and previous series winners at “The Gap” include: Jimmy Owens (’06 & ’07), Tommy Kerr (’08 & ’09), Jonathan Davenport (’10), Chris Madden (’11), Casey Roberts (’12), Vic Hill (’13), and Chris Madden (’20).

Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals Series presented by Sunoco Race Fuels
Point Event #12 of 12
Race Summary
Saturday, July 31, 2021
Tazewell Speedway – Tazewell, Tennessee

Schaeffer’s Oil Feature Finish (53 Laps):
1. (2) Michael Chilton $10,053
2. (3) Dale McDowell $5,000
3. (9) Zack Mitchell $2,500
4. (1) Ross Bailes $1,800
5. (16) Donald McIntosh $1,250
6. (14) Ryan King $900
7. (18) Austin Neely $800
8. (10) Vic Hill $700
9. (12) Jason Trammell $675
10. (21) Jensen Ford $650
11. (7) Kyle Strickler $625
12. (20) Cody Overton $600
13. (4) Dakotah Knuckles $575
14. (5) Garrett Smith $550
15. (17) Ahnna Parkhurst $525
16. (6) Benjamin Cranford $500
17. (22) Kenny Collins $500
18. (23) Jeff Neubert $75
19. (8) Pierce McCarter $500
20. (11) Matthew Holt $500
21. (13) Brian Shockley $500
22. (19) Jeff Wolfenbarger $500
23. (15) John Llewellyn $500

Entries: 30
Lap Leaders: Michael Chilton (Laps 1-53)
Cautions: 2 (Lap 19 red flag for Pierce McCarter who got upside down and climbed out unhurt, Lap 21 for a slowing Dakotah Knuckles who got into the turn four wall)

FK Rod Ends Time Trials:
Fast Time Overall: Garrett Smith 11.231 seconds
Group A: Garrett Smith 11.231 seconds
Group B: Cody Overton 11.303 seconds

Sunoco Race Fuels Heat Race #1 Finish (Top Four Transfer): 1. Ross Bailes, 2. Garrett Smith, 3. Zack Mitchell, 4. Brian Shockley, 5. Ahnna Parkhurst, 6. Jeff Wolfenbarger, 7. Jonathan Miracle, 8. Ryan Winchester

American Racer South Heat Race #2 Finish (Top Four Transfer): 1. Dale McDowell, 2. Kyle Strickler, 3. Matthew Holt, 4. John Llewellyn, 5. Troy Eades, 6. Mack McCarter, 7. David Payne

E-Z GO Heat Race #3 Finish (Top Four Transfer): 1. Michael Chilton, 2. Benjamin Cranford, 3. Vic Hill, 4. Ryan King, 5. Austin Neely, 6. Cody Overton, 7. Steve Smith, 8. Jensen Ford

Delph Communications Heat Race #4 Finish (Top Four Transfer): 1. Dakotah Knuckles, 2. Pierce McCarter, 3. Jason Trammell, 4. Donald McIntosh, 5. Jeff Neubert, 6. Kenny Collins, 7. Mitchell Burke

Collins Signs B-Main #1 Finish (Top Two Transfer): 1. Ahnna Parkhurst, 2. Jeff Wolfenbarger, 3. Troy Eades, 4. Jonathan Miracle, 5. Ryan Winchester, DNS. Mack McCarter, DNS. David Payne

Arizona Sport Shirts B-Main #2 Finish (Top Two Transfer): 1. Austin Neely, 2. Cody Overton, 3. Jeff Neubert, 4. Kenny Collins, 5. Mitchell Burke, DNS. Steve Smith, DNS. Jensen Ford

Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals Series Provisionals: Jensen Ford, Kenny Collins
Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals Series Emergency Provisional: Jeff Neubert

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