- Last Updated on 07:52 AM 07/07/14
- BY Doug Ford
Danny Willis Jr. is surging at just the right time with the defending Limited Sportsman Division champion collecting his second win in a row at Thursday’s biggest race of the year for the Limited Sportsman Division, the annual pre-July Fourth 100-lap shootout at South Boston Speedway.
Willis, of Cluster Springs qualified on the pole and led each of 100 laps in a race that was delayed three times by caution flags, the final one coming on lap 51.
Willis fended off Trey Crews on the restart and crossed the finish line with a 3.057-second advantage over the Halifax driver.
Joey Throckmorton of South Boston had his best finish of the season with his third-place finish, with J.D. Eversole of Richmond finishing fourth and Chuck Lawson of Providence, North Carolina rounding out the top-five.
Bob Davis of Thaxton, Virginia, Barry Beggarly Jr. of Providence, Libby Prevette of Nathalie, Charles Barnes
of Chase City and Donnie Puryear Jr. of Raleigh, North Carolina rounded out the top-10 finishers.
Thursday’s win was Willis’ second win in a row in the pre-July Fourth 100-lap race and his third overall, with this win bringing him closer and closer to the points lead in his division after some early season struggles.
“The first part of the season we struggled,” said Willis in Victory Lane.
“We had a bunch of races where we were caught up in bad wrecks and such, and the car wasn’t near where we wanted it to be.
“We did a lot of work and got things turned back around close to where we were last year.
“The last two races it’s really showed.”
The hard work has paid off, according to Willis, who noted the more competitive field in the Limited Sportsman Division this season has forced his race team to step up its game.
“The competition in this division is inching closer to us,” said Willis.
“The championship will come back to us if we keep winning races and staying in front of these guys each and every week.
“The season is winding on down, and if we can keep doing this the next four or five races I think we’ll be sitting pretty good.”
Willis had opened up a sizable lead halfway through the race before the final caution flag flew, something Willis expected to happen.
“We knew they were going to throw a competition caution if it got strung out,” Willis noted.
The race ran caution-free the last 45 laps, and Willis said he opened his lead back up and cruised home to the win.
“I was wondering if they would throw another competition caution, and I would have hated it if they did.
“I was just hoping everybody would run a clean race and it would stay as it was at the end.
“It worked out for us.”
Crews, who has a narrow points lead over Eversole and Willis in the Limited Sportsman Division after Thursday’s race, said he needed one more caution in order to get up with Willis and race for the win.
“I think if we’d had a late caution or a green-white-checkered finish we could have had him or give him a little more run for his money,” said Crews.
“We had a good car at the end, it was a tick too loose and hopefully we can work on it and make it a little tighter.
“We were right there with him on restarts, and I knew we were going to have a late caution, so I was trying to save all I could for a push at the end.
“I just let him get a little too far (out).”
Throckmorton recorded his best finish of the season at South Boston Speedway after missing a number of races due to wrecks and mechanical issues.
“Trey had a good car, I thought we were a little better at the beginning, he was a little better in the middle and it looked like we might be catching him at the end,” said Throckmorton.
“I was doing everything I could to keep it in third. “Thanks to my crew, sponsors and family, they’re the most important things,” added Throckmorton.
“These guys stick with us.
“We’ve had a lot of bad luck, but maybe this will turn it around.
“We did a 100 (laps), and we did some long runs, so I was able to stay up on the wheel as much as I could.
“We’re good to go.”
Willis qualified on the pole with a time of 16.994 seconds (90.023 MPH) in a race that took 35 minutes to complete and had three cautions for a total of 13 laps.