By Chris Tilley and Robert Holman (DirtonDirt.com)
SWAINSBORO, Ga. – July 21, 2017 – Donald McIntosh of Dawsonville, Ga. survived the 53-lap event at Swainsboro (Ga.) Raceway to claim his third-straight victory on the Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals Series presented by Sunoco Race Fuels and Tennessee RV.
As one of only five drivers to finish Friday’s attrition-filled event Friday Night, the Dawsonville, Ga., driver had, at worst, a 20 percent chance to win in the final stages. Having the fastest car left on the track certainly upped his odds though.
McIntosh, who led laps 32 through 39 before giving way to Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., reclaimed the lead from Roberts following a restart on lap 40 and led the final 13 circuits to win his third straight series race and fourth of his career. Enduring 11 cautions along the way, McIntosh pulled away over the final eight laps to win by a whopping 6.063 seconds.
Shannon Buckingham of Morristown, Tenn., who started 18th, finished second for his second podium finish in as many nights and 19th-starting Dennis Franklin of Gaffney, S.C., finished third. Brent Dixon of Elkton, Ga., and Scott Shirey of Swansea, S.C., completed the top five.
Series points leader Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., led a handful of laps before pitting with a flat tire. He rallied back to the front and was running second when he retired with five laps remaining. He still finished sixth.
McIntosh was one of four leaders – joining Riley Hickman, Overton and Roberts – on a night when just finishing the race seemed like a victory in itself.
“I don’t believe I’ve worked (that) hard in 24 years,” said an obviously exhausted McIntosh. “Three (wins) in a row, that’s just now sinking in. I just wanted the race to be over. He said five to go (on the Raceceiver) and swear we ran a dozen (more laps) there.”
McIntosh started fifth and found himself in contention when Hickman of Ooltewah, Tenn., the polesitter and early race leader, ran into the spinning car of Kenny Collins of Colbert, Ga., in turn four. The lap-10 accident also collected the car of second-running Ross Bailes of Clover, S.C., who had been hounding Hickman for better than five laps.
Hickman blasted into the lead at the start with Bailes in tow. When they tangled to draw the second caution of the race, the two had pulled away to a sizable lead. Hickman’s damage sent him to the pit area for the night, while Bailes changed a right rear tire and tagged the rear of the field.
Overton inherited the lead, but it was short-lived. He pulled out to a huge lead over Roberts, but it was erased when the third caution came out on lap 19. During the caution, Overton pulled to the infield to change a right rear tire, handing the lead to Roberts.
McIntosh took the second spot from G.R. Smith on lap 21. Within five laps, Roberts had built a 2.196-second advantage. Meanwhile, McIntosh was content rolling around the bottom trying to stay out of the rough. Further back, Overton was sailing around the top of the track while making a mad dash back to the front.
“Being in the bottom was the smart move, but we’re all out here racing,” said McIntosh. “The top was rough, but it had some speed to it, so that’s where I went.”
McIntosh grabbed the lead from Roberts and paced the next nine laps before Roberts nosed back ahead on lap 40. That was the last lap Roberts would lead, however. McIntosh surged back ahead on a restart and stayed out front the rest of the way, despite three more caution flags in the final 13 laps.
Buckingham was never in position to challenge for the lead. He was, however, in position to take advantage when others began experiencing trouble. He steadily marched forward. With 10 laps remaining, he was up to fourth. The then inherited the runner-up spot when both Roberts and Overton fell to the wayside.
“I made my mind up I was gonna park it on the bottom and get as far as I could go,” said Buckingham. “I never thought I would get that far.”
This was McIntosh’s third-straight series victory aboard the Blount Motorsports Rocket Chassis. With the victory, McIntosh overtook Overton in the series points heading into the sixth series event on Saturday at Screven Motor Speedway. Brandon Overton sits second in the points (-4) and Shanon Buckingham lurking in the distance only 12 markers out of the lead.
The Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals Series presented by Sunoco Race Fuels and Tennessee RV will roll over to Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga. on Saturday Night July 22nd for a 53-lap $10,000-to-win event.
Further information on the Spring Nationals, Southern Nationals, and Southern Nationals Bonus Series can be obtained by calling Promoter Ray Cook at (828) 360-5353 or Series P.R. Coordinator Chris Tilley at (606) 219-1723 or by visiting the official website located at www.SouthernNationalsSeries.com.
Official Summary of Results
Feature Results for Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals at Swainsboro Raceway in Swainsboro, Ga. on July 21, 2017
1. Donald McIntosh-Dawsonville, Ga.
2. Shanon Buckingham-Morristown, Tenn.
3. Dennis Franklin-Gaffney, S.C.
4. Brent Dixon-Elberton, Ga.
5. Scott Shirey-Swansea, S.C.
6. Brandon Overton-Evans, Ga.
7. Casey Roberts-Toccoa, Ga.
8. Jason Fitzgerald-Middleburg, Fla.
9. G.R. Smith-Statesville, N.C.
10. Mark Whitener-Middleburg, Fla.
11. John Henderson Jr.-Aiken, S.C.
12. Donald Bradsher-Burlington, N.C.
13. Brandon Carpenter-Augusta, Ga.
14. Ross Bailes-Clover, S.C.
15. Brian Connor-Martinez, Ga.
16. Michael Page-Douglasville, Ga.
17. Steve Casebolt-Richmond, Ind.
18. Riley Hickman-Cleveland, Tenn.
19. Brian Ligon-Augusta, Ga.
20. Kenny Collins-Colbert, Ga.
21. Craig Vosbergen-Perth, Western Australia
22. Ivedent Lloyd Jr.-Ocala, Fla.
Time of Race: N/A
Margin of Victory: N/A
Yellow Flags: Eleven
Red Flags: None
Lap Leaders: Hickman (1-10), Overton (11-19), Roberts (20-31), McIntosh (32-39), Roberts (40), McIntosh (41-53)
Overall Top Qualifier: Ross Bailes (Group B) 13.955 seconds
Keyser Manufacturing 11th Place Award: John Henderson Jr.
Highest Finishing CT525 Engine ($200): None
Highest Finishing Steel/SPEC Engine ($200): None
Provisional Starters: Craig Vosbergen, Kenny Collins
Heat One Finish (10 laps/top 4 transfer)- Donald McIntosh, G.R. Smith, Donald Bradsher, Brian Conner, Pearson Lee Williams, Craig Vosbergen.
Heat Two Finish (10 laps/top 4 transfer)- Jason Fitzgerald, Brent Dixon, Mark Whitener, Dennis Franklin, Ryan Crane, David Doherty.
Heat Three Finish (10 laps/top 4 transfer)- Casey Roberts, Michael Page, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Shanon Buckingham, Kenny Collins, Jim Rogers.
Heat Four Finish (10 laps/top 4 transfer)- Steve Casebolt, Scott Shirey, Brandon Carpenter, Brian Ligon, Farrel Skelton, Jason Walker.
Current Schaeffer Oil Southern Nationals Series Points (after Swainsboro Raceway)
1. Donald McIntosh-972
2. Brandon Overton-968
3. Shanon Buckingham-960
4. Steve Casebolt-896
5. Craig Vosbergen-888
6. Kenny Collins-878
7. Ivedent Lloyd Jr.-852
8. Farrel Skelton-753
9. Jason Walker-632
10. David Doherty-593
2017 Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals Series Winners:
Vic Hill-Wythe Raceway
Brandon Overton-Tri-County Race Track
Donald McIntosh-411 Motor Speedway
Donald McIntosh-Senoia Raceway
Donald McIntosh-Swainsboro Raceway