By: Gary Jacob|
Where: Las Cruces, NM
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Las Cruces, NM --
Leading the final 23 laps after contact with early leader Chris Sims, track promoter Royal Jones won the 35 lap main event as The Speedway of Southern New Mexico closed the five race Winter Cup Series Sunday afternoon. Wheeling his D & M Speed Equipment Chassis, Jones became the fifth winner in five races and was rewarded with a $1,000 payoff. Despite being winless in the series, Scott Logston collected the $625 Series Championship award with his third second place finish in the five events. He got $325 for his second place run in his new Lighting Chassis that has a dramatically different rear suspension than Logston has previously used. Logston had another race after the event as he hurried down the freeway to catch a flight from El Paso to Milwaukee for a Harley-Davidson school. The series was planned as an 8 race event with four in Las Cruces and four in El Paso, but El Paso cancelled their final three races. Jumping into a backup Christy Georges' car that hadn't been used for four seasons, Curt Barnett was a $250 third Sunday ahead of Sherm Barnett and Albuquerque's Bobby Bachachi. Other feature winners in the series were C Barnett, Jimmy Ray, Pat Carney and Lorne Wofford. With his win, R Jones climbed from 4th to 2nd in the point standings, finishing 9 points back of Logston and ten ahead of Sims as Carney, Wofford, Ray and Bumper Jones all failed to finish the final race.
The 23 car turnout for the finale was the best of the four Las Cruces' races and tied the amount that El Paso had for their single event. Heat winners were Wofford, Logston and Arizona's Terry Tipton. Bumper Jones was winning his heat when he was hit by a spinning Mike Owens and had to be towed to the pits. When a couple other drivers scratched from the dash, 3rd place heat finisher R Jones was added and he won that event over Carney and track co-promoter Ray. For the 35 lap feature, Mark Kowalski and Dodge powered Sims shared the front row with Ray lined up 3rd. R Jones started 5th and Logston 7th. A strong move at the green flag put Ray into the lead, but he got out of shape in turn 3 with Sims, R Jones and Logston all getting by. A yellow fell on lap 2 as Ray spun in turn 3 and was hit by Tipton. There was trouble getting a third lap scored as Christy Georges spun and was hit by Kowalski, Mike Martin and and Casey Rush. Wofford lost an engine in turn 1 on the next start attempt and B Jones' race had ended with a flat tire. Sims continued to lead R Jones, Carney and Logston. R Jones had found an opening to pull alongside Sims and contact in turn 2 on lap 13 saw Sims spin with R Jones the new leader. Sims restarted in the rear. Carney ran second until he broke on lap 28. In their duel for fifth, S Barnett and Georges made contact on the front stretch with female ace Georges spinning into the wall. Bo Martinez stalled for a final yellow flag and Martin had to be pushed to the pits. R Jones continued to set the pace and won the 35 lapper over Logston, C Barnett, S Barnett, Bachachi, Sims, Rush, Lopez and Chad Falco.
Logston was quick to thank crew chief Wayne LeBlanc for his efforts and was proud of the fact that his mother, who has been in and out of the hospital for months, was able to be on hand to witness the championship clinching effort. The annual Winter Meltdown Special is next up on the track's schedule with the $3,000 to win Modified race and $2,000 to win Super Stock race set for March 2-3-4.
Summary Dash-Royal Jones, Pat Carney, Jimmy Ray, Terry Tipton, Christy Georges. Heat 1-Lorne Wofford, Carney, Christy Georges, Mark Kowalski, Casey Rush. Heat 2-Scott Logston, Curt Barnett, R Jones, Sherm Barnett, Mike Martin. Heat 3-Tipton, Ray, Chris Sims, Bobby Bachachi, Martin Lopez. Main-R Jones, Logston, C Barnett, S Barnett, Bachachi, Sims, Rush, Lopez, Chad Falco, Georges, Alvie Williams, Mike Owens, Terry Burrows, Martin, Bo Martinez, Carney, Kowalski, Tipton, Wofford, Mike Wells, Bumper Jones, Ray, Richard Johnson.