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Stallings drives to first Limited race victory in photo finish

Blake Stallings has shown steady improvement in his two full seasons of racing in the Limited Sportsman Division at South Boston Speedway.

The Danville racer never had a win to show for it until Tuesday night, when Stallings edged past veteran driver Tommy Peregoy of Clarksville by 0.018 seconds in a green-white-checkered finish to win the biggest Limited Sportsman Division race of the season, a 100-lapper Tuesday night at South Boston Speedway.

Michael Maresca, of Hannawa Falls, N.Y. continued his strong bid for Limited Sportsman Rookie of the Year with a third-place finish, while South Boston driver Mike Jones, third in points coming into the race, finished fourth.

Danny Willis Jr. of Cluster Springs, second in points to Bobby McCarty coming into the race, finished fifth, with Joey Throckmorton of South Boston, Charles Barnes of Chase City, Kyle Barnes, McCarty, of Summerfield, N.C., and Caleb Davis of Thaxton, Va., rounding out the top-10 finishers.

The race featured nine lead changes among four drivers, seven of those coming in the first 92 laps between division championship contenders McCarty and Willis, with Peregoy and Stallings running third and fourth and waiting to make a move.

Their opportunity came on lap 92 when contact between McCarty and Willis brought out the fourth of the race’s five cautions, with Peregoy and Stallings first and second on the restart.

An incident on lap 98 that involved the cars of Kyle Barnes, McCarty and Davis bought out the last caution flag of the night, setting up the final dash to the flag, with Stallings edging past Peregoy at the finish line for the win.

Stallings said his win came after competitive and clean racing with Peregoy.

“I don’t even know what to say,” said Stallings in Victory Lane.

“Tommy is a great driver, and he drove me clean.  We had a little mishap last week, and I don’t know if it was my fault, his fault or what, but we had a bunch of great racing at the end.

“I was going to drive him clean, and he drove me clean and gave me plenty of room.”

“I’m glad for Blake,” Peregoy noted.  “I run him into the back stretch wall on the initial restart before the last one.  I told my spotter to tell him I was sorry and wasn’t going to do that again.

“That was an accident, and I wanted to give him all the room I could.”

Peregoy’s car had been strong on the bottom of the racetrack the entire race, and his strategy on the last restart was to charge off the bottom of the corner in turn four on the final restart. 

“That was our plan, digging off the bottom in four, but we just didn’t have enough,” admitted Peregoy.

“He can honestly say he earned that one.”

Willis captured the pole with a time of 16.047 seconds, his fifth of the season, for a race that was delayed three times by cautions and took 49 minutes to complete.