“It’s been a very eventful night, and a lot of fun,”
The second annual Blake Morris Memorial Twin 72’s brought back the Late Model racing action at Dominion Raceway, and they highlighted an action-packed, aggressive night of racing that could be summed up in one word: attrition.
The Late Models, Legends, and Dominion Stocks all featured bump-and-run battles for positioning and torn-up sheet metal. The drivers had plenty of action on-track, PALS Tire Center yellow flags, and Alcova Mortgage race restarts to survive.
The last time the Late Models took the green flag at DR was back on June 10th for The Big One. Doug Barnes Jr. entered the night as the winner of the last two Late Model contests. Barnes also arrived with a 66 point lead over Peyton Sellers for the NASCAR Advanced Auto Parts Weekly Series National Championship.
For Sellers, the defending track champion, arrived atop this season’s track championship standings with three victories: his last of which came on April 29th.
Dominion Raceway also welcomed back the #0 of Landon Pembleton, who last raced at Dominion during the CARS Tour event.
Pembleton was on the pole with a 15.341 qualifying time. Sellers (15.361) and Barnes ( 15.434) were second and third respectively.
Due to the invert the #28 of Dustin Storm and #77 of Michael Hardin started race one on the front row. The #05 of Mason Bailey made the most progress on the first lap, as he worked his way up to second, settling in behind Storm. Sellers and Hardin made contact jockeying for third.
Four laps in, Bailey would claim the lead from Storm, but Sellers would pass the #05 before the lap was completed. On lap seven, Pembleton worked his way up to third, and on lap 11 he was passing Bailey for second. Hardin and the #01 of GR Waldrop would pass Bailey for third and fourth place, and on lap 1, Waldrop would pass the #77 for third.
This top-5 would remain the same until, with seven to go, the #19 of Colby Stotllemeyer would get into the wall in turn two bringing out a caution.
The restart would see a front row of Sellers and Pembleton; the two barrelled around the track side-by-side. A lap in, the #0 would use the bumper to move Sellers out of the way. The Clarence’s Steakhouse machine had its left rear quarter panel punched in towards the fuel cell by the contact, but that would not keep Sellers from returning the favor on Pembleton two laps later and getting his lead back.
The contact between both leaders caused Waldrop and Bailey to check up behind them and both cars would wreck in between turns one and two. Waldrop would drive his destroyed car back to his pit stall, while Bailey would be towed away.
The final restart saw Pembleton give another hard shove to the #26, but the young driver would not be able to use it to complete a pass.
Barnes would pass Hardin for third, and pull side-by-side with Pembleton. The two would race hard, but the red #88 would move the #0 to finish second behind Sellers.
In victory lane, Sellers would share his pleasure of winning a race in memory of Blake Morris.
“I had a very fast #26 car, and there is only one reason for it: the grace of God and Blake Morris,” said Sellers. “The Morris family means a lot to me, and it means a lot to bring this trophy home.”
Race two would kick off a couple hours later with Justin Martz and Chandler Sherman on the front row. Martz’s black #22 would jump out to the lead while Sherman would drop back to 7th.
Barnes would settle in to 4th, while Sellers would assume the 6th position.
A handful of laps later the top-5 consisted of Martz, Hardin, Barnes, Sellers, and Pembleton.
On lap seven there was more contact between Pembleton and Sellers. Barnes would pass Hardin for second with the #26 and #0 in tow.
On lap 12 Sellers would deliver a shot to Barnes while Pembleton would make more contact with Sellers. The #0 would move Sellers for third on lap 14, but on lap 24 Sellers would get the position back with a clean pass.
With the excitement towards the front, Martz would continue to pace the field. It was on lap 39 when Barnes would begin to pressure the #22. Martz was able to hold off the hard-charging Barnes for ten more circuits.
As Barnes cleared Martz, Sellers got on the inside of the two leaders taking them three-wide stealing the lead. Pembleton would subsequently move Barnes on lap 46 and the #88 would fall to fifth behind Hardin.
Throughout the race, several cars would have technical issues and with some of the carnage from race one, the field dwindled from 16 cars to seven on track. It was late in the race when the #1 of Trent Barnes would re-emerge from his pit stall ahead of the leaders.
As the leaders cleared the #1, his issues would return and soon he was in the wall and bringing out the yellow flag.
The final restart was a shootout to the finish with Sellers, Pembleton, and Barnes as the top-three. Contact was aplenty on the restart, but Sellers would clear himself from danger with four laps remaining. Pembleton would jostle with Barnes for second and it was the #88 getting revenge on the #0 as he moved him for second in turn three on the final lap.
After the checkered flag, Pembleton would gas it up to try and catch up to Barnes, but he would lose control of the car and spin out making significant contact with the turn three barrier.
Sellers’ hard-fought victory would complete the sweep and earn him his fourth and fifth victories of the season.
“We had to be very patient and very calm coming through the field, and with another late race caution we had to work for it even harder,” said Sellers. “It was very physical there at the end, but everyone was driving with their head for the most part. When it’s late like that, everyone can taste blood.”
“It’s been a very eventful night, and a lot of fun,” said Pembleton. “Third place finishes in both races isn’t too terrible. It was very hard racing, and at some points a little too hard; I enjoyed it.”
In other action the Bando’s would run twin 15’s. Alison Johnson would dominate the first event while Brian Rundstrom Jr would finish second. In race two, Rundstrom Jr would get the lead on a restart following a wreck including Tuggie Case, Kaitlyn Stradley, and Addison Schumann. Rundstrom would not relinquish the lead and take the checkered flag.
“We had a good car thanks to my dad,” said Rundstrom Jr. “He screwed up in qualifying, but we got it done in the race.”
The Dominion Stocks event was dominated by the #33 of Dan Rogers, but the race was not excluded from drama.
Jacob Wood and Todd Ruggles would engage in an intense battle for third place. Ruggles would deliver multiple shots to Wood’s machine throughout, but on lap six, Ruggles’ contact was too much and Woods car would spin out and cause a late caution.
Rogers would hold on to take the checkered flag.
“The car was on a rail tonight for sure,” said Rogers. “I hated to see that caution at the end, because I had a good lead there.”
The Legends cars also produced a thriller. Conner Weddell and Dave Polenz were side-by- side for multiple laps at the start. Polenz was the pole-sitter, but Weddell also had a rocket. Conner got loose into four while Michael Weddell dove hard to the inside and spun. The wreck included Wyatt Philyaw, Alec Andrecs, Devin George, Miles Murray, and Mason Magee.
Polenz would attain the lead on the restart after Conner got loose in turn two. The #95 would spin with 18 to go to cause another restart.
On the backstretch Polenz and Michael Weddell would make contact when racing action resumed. Their caution caused both cars to go to the back of the field.
Conner Weddell was able to capitalize on others misfortune, while Andrecs was able to recover and finish second.
It was the second win of the year for Conner Weddell.
“Man that’s awesome,” said Weddell. “It’s been a few rough weeks. I don’t know how I missed it [the Weddell and Polenz accident], but it all worked out for me.”
Next weeks action on August 5th will include twin 35’s for the Virginia Racers, twin 20’s for Ucars, and 35 laps for Modifieds.