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Surging McCarty wins third South Boston Speedway race

Bobby McCarty obviously is not just settling for possible Rookie of the Year honors in the Limited Sportsman Division at South Boston Speedway. The Summerfield, N.C., driver is making a late surge toward the top-three of the points standings with his third win of the season, his latest triumph coming in Saturday night’s 50-lap Limited Sportsman Division race.

McCarty scored his second straight win in Saturday night’s race, the only race among the night’s scheduled five-race card of Saturday night’s Sunoco Late Model 150 racing program to be completed.

Thunderstorms forced South Boston Speedway officials to stop Saturday night’s 150-lap race for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car Division after 39 laps due to rain.

Three-time former NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion and former South Boston Speedway champion Philip Morris was leading Dennis Holdren of Roanoke, Brandon Butler of Sutherland, Matt Waltz of Newport News, Greg Edwards of Poquoson and Michael Hardin on Pomfret, Md. when the rain came.

Track officials made two attempts to get the race restarted, but rain began falling again both times just as officials summoned drivers to get back into their cars.

With the rainout of the night’s four other races, the Limited Sportsman Division competitors had the limelight, with McCarty passing first-time pole winner Austin Thaxton on the opening lap and leading the rest of the way through five cautions to win the 50-lap race by .805 second.

Thaxton, of Cluster Springs, finished second, with the two drivers locked into a close battle for the division title, Brian Pembelton of Amelia and Danny Willis Jr. of Cluster Springs, finishing third and fourth respectively. Pembelton and Willis rallied by racing from the back of the field after being involved in a four-car mishap on the opening lap.

J.D. Eversole of Richmond rounded out the top five finishers, with Blake Stallings of Danville finishing in sixth-place. The top-six finishers were the only drivers to finish on the lead lap.

Heading into this Saturday’s twin 50-lap Limited races, Willis is unofficially one point ahead of Pembelton. There are only three points races remaining for the Limited Sportsman Division entering this weekend’s action.

“It’s unfortunate the way things happened, but we ended up salvaging a decent night,” said Pembelton, referring to the opening lap pileup.

“We had a decent points night, and we dug real hard, so I’m real happy we got at least third.”

Thaxton, who resides in fifth-place in the points standings after two straight second-place finishes, admitted he was not quite there yet with his racecar.

“I felt like [McCarty] had a real good handling car, and I feel like this is the best car I’ve raced in a long time,” said Thaxton.

“We need to get it just a little bit better center off, but congratulations to Bobby again, he’s really got that thing going.

“It’s kind of disappointing we qualified on the pole and fell back a spot, but I got the car back in one piece, and we’ll come back next week and make it better.”

With twin races on tap Saturday, Thaxton will get double the opportunity to improve his position in the points standings.

“I like twin races. The more time you get to play on the race track the more chances of getting up there one more spot,” he explained.

“I feel like we’ll be all right next week, come back a little better can and hopefully give Bobby a little better run for his money.”

McCarty said his car handled better coming out of the turns as the race wore on.

“He (Thaxton) raced us hard and I enjoyed it,” said McCarty.

“Our car was handling pretty good. We had a vibration there again, and I don’t know if that was from contact or what, but we’ll figure out what that was and fix it for the next race.”