(POOLER, GA) – "America's Leader in Racing" is back into a full swing of traveling all over the southeast to determine the National Champion for the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. The tour was back at it again with the return of the series to the massive 5/8th mile Oglethorpe Speedway Park for their 2017 race finale and the popular dirt racing classic "Showdown in Savannah". The 20th Annual race event was scheduled for Friday night action with a $2,000 to win program, however a tropical system off the coast settled in with an aggravating, pesky mist that turned into a down pour to force postponement of all activities.

Track owner Andy Stone expressed the want to fully complete both scheduled events, with 30+ NeSmith competitors from seven states in attendance to race. The decision was made to have a double header Saturday with Friday's show firing up at 11am. The event went off successfully with beautiful weather. When the checkered flag fell it was a local weekly competitor to claim his second career NeSmith touring win of 2017(following a 2017 RockAuto.com Winter Shootout Series Victory), #G4 Garrett Shurling from Black Creek, GA.

The Friday/Saturday program began with Sunoco Race Fuels / Knowles Race Parts and Bodies QUICK TIME Qualifying where the young lady in the #G2G Schwartz chassis out of Eden, GA Jordan Feider would lay down the quick time at 18.828 seconds. The top 10 were locked into the A-Main 30 lap feature from qualifying. While the rest of the field contested in heat races, heat race #1 would go to the #5w Mark Whitener from Florida and Georgia native and #01 Travis Pennington would easily handle heat race #2. Just after 2pm in the afternoon with the sun beating over them with summer like humid conditions, the field was set for the opening kickoff for the 20th Annual "Showdown in Savannah".

Feider would bring the field to green for the initial start, however quickly #G4 Garrett Shurling would get to the point. The yellow would come out quickly after three opening circuits when #42 Cla Knight would stall with mechanical issues off turn two, he'd pit ending his race in the process. Getting back to Green quickly turned back to yellow on lap 4 when the #07 Kerry Gibbons gave us a scare spinning out of control off turn three in front of the pack midway causing quick evasive moves for all other racers to miss him. Still with Shurling out in front Jordan Feider and Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer #85 Ronnie Johnson all in tow. The caution would fall a total of six times in the 30-lap feature.

Other drivers that had issues bringing out the yellow laundry for solo issues included #12 J Jay Reich on lap 5, lap 16 saw #1j Joshua Bishop with issues and after another nine-lap green flag run with everyone still trying to chase down Shurling the caution would return again on lap 25 when Mississippi native #19 Marcus Minga would have an issue with his Rocket chassis stalling entering turn one. This would set up another late race restart with 5 laps remaining. Shurling, with the hometown crowd cheering him on, was putting on a stellar performance with contenders like Feider, Johnson, NeSmith points leader Cory Hedgecock and #5w Mark Whitener all in the hunt to pull the upset. The final caution would all on lap 27 entering turn one after a multi-car incident involving #6 Shane Riner, #56jr Colton Horner and #23 Ahnna Parkhurst forcing a three lap shootout under the blazing South Georgia sun.

With Shurling coming back to the final restart single file, he'd spin the tires going into turn one, quickly trying to capitalize would be Feider on the bottom then to the top, however Shurling would catch a break where Feider would slip and allow Johnson to get to her inside off turn two. Both had to quickly get on the binders to avoid taking themselves out. That was all that Shurling would need as he would clear them all down the backstretch pull away and never look back to take the $2,000 payday in the Saturday afternoon opening race for the 20th Annual "Showdown in Savannah".

The finale of the 20th Annual "Showdown in Savannah” capped off a grueling, hot day after Friday's festivities were rescheduled to Saturday afternoon being plagued by precipitation Friday evening. Crews, fans, and drivers were relieved for the sun to set and the cooler temperatures to set in for night time action.


With the $3,000 to win finale to close the season for the track in 2017, the race is one that Florida competitor “Magic Man” Mark Whitener dominated to become the 7th different winner of the 2017 touring season.

The nightcap would get underway with Sunoco Race Fuels / Knowles Race Parts and Bodies QUICK TIME Qualifying. Race fans and local sponsors made Qualifying extra important for the NeSmith competitors after raising $1,000 to the fast time winner which was North Augusta, SC #42 Cla Knight taking the money after turning the 5/8th mile at 20.235 seconds. Heartbreak would happen for the #85 Ronnie Johnson from Chattanooga, TN after his machine would suffer mechanical issues forcing his night to end at qualifying. Knight and everyone else that was the fast 10 qualifiers of the 30 that set to compete were able to rest easy being locked into the 40 lap A-Main feature finale. The rest would compete in two 8 lap last chance qualifiers to make the show. It was local standouts including the 2017 OSP NeSmith weekly late models champion in the #48 Robert Diekemper from Bloomingdale, GA taking the first heat. Followed by the local Savannah veteran in the #44 Eddie Morris to claim heat two. After the 4-wide salute to the crowd the final late model race on the 5/8th mile track configuration was set to get underway.

#5w Mark Whitener would lead the field to green with Knight and #01 Travis Pennington all in tow. The race would be halted with four caution flags and one red flag. The first yellow would fly after a couple of circuits completed for the #57 Jim Rogers stalling exiting turn two losing power while trying to get to the pits. During the caution the #G2G of Jordan Feider from Eden, GA would suffer mechanical issues forcing her to exit the race early. This would set up a restart with again Whitener pulling away with a fierce battle that would begin to ensue for the second position several laps between Knight and Pennington. This game of "cat and mouse" for the bridesmaid spot would put a smile to the face of leader Whitener as he'd pull away from them and close in on lap traffic. The yellow would fall again with cars stalling on the track after #44 Eddie Morris would spin solo then stall off turn four and a major disappointment on lap 21 for the current "Cruise with the Champions" Rookie of the Year points leader and 2nd place in points for the championship contender #1g Grant Garrison would stall his car off turn two with smoke bellowing from the rear end of the chassis forcing the Walton, KY driver to retire for the evening. All the while no change for the top three on the track with even #07 Kerry Gibbons and #6 Shane Riner beginning to sneak into the top five to mount a charge in the late rally.

The major caution of the race would happen off turn three on lap 28 causing a red flag for 23 minutes with 12 laps to go for the finish. The incident would be a mutli-car accident involving #44 Eddie Morris, #23 Ahnna Parkhurst, #19 Marcus Minga that were all able to pull away from the incident. However, #00 Caleb Gay driving the Chip Beach Motorsports entry flew off the track at the exit of turn 3 and came to a rest at the tree line located off turns 3 and 4. Gay would walk away from the wreckage under his own power, but his car would suffer heavy damage.

This would set up a twelve-lap dash for the $3,000 top prize with everyone getting one more shot at Whitener, Knight and Pennington. When the green flag went up for the final time Whitener would pull away like he had done since the initial start with the "Knight vs Pennington" battle for second getting the most intense as it ever was coming down to the wire. The top three racers would all stay locked in for the finish as the checkers fell just after 10:30 pm eastern time giving Mark Whitener his first win on the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series for 2017 claiming the "golden helmet", the big check, the $3000 payday, and becoming the 7th different winner on the touring series of "America's Leader in Racing" for the season.



1st #G4 Garrett Shurling
2nd #G2G Jordan Feider
3rd #85 Ronnie Johnson
4th #J1 Joshua Bishop
5th #23 Cory Hedgecock
6th #5w Mark Whitener
7th #24 Robbie Cowart
8th #1p Andy Picklesimer
9th #22c Cecil Eunice
10th #07t Keith Tuten
11th #6r Shane Riner
12th #05 TJ Brittain
13th #56jr Colton Horner
14th #23 Ahnna Parkhurst
15th #1g Grant Garrison
16th #12 J Jay Reich
17th #19 Marcus Minga
18th #07 Kerry Gibbons
19th #00 Caleb Gay
20th #01 Travis Pennington
21st #48 Robert Diekemper
22nd #44 Eddie Morris
23rd #1N Jordy Nipper
24th #42 Cla Knight


1st #5w Mark Whitener
2nd #42 Cla Knight
3rd #01 Travis Pennington
4th #07 Kerry Gibbons
5th #6R Shane Riner
6th #52 Ryan Carter
7th #1p Andy Picklesimer
8th #24 Robbie Cowart
9th #48 Robert Diekemper
10th #25 Hunter Carter
11th #23 Cory Hedgecock
12th #07 Keith Tuten
13th #G4 Garrett Shurling
14th #57 Jim Rogers
15th #05 TJ Brittain
16th #56jr Colton Horner
17th #44 Eddie Morris
18th #1g Grant Garrison
19th #23 Ahnna Parkhurst
20th #19 Marcus Minga
21st #00 Caleb Gay
22nd #1N Jordy Nipper
23rd #22 Cecil Eunice
24th #G2G Jordan Feider 

The stars and cars of "America's Leader in Racing" are back on the road again with the return to Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, AL part of Talladega NASCAR Weekend at "The Hornet's Nest". Friday October 13th will be a full show with $2,000 to win and another full show with $2,500 to win on Saturday October 14th.

For more information about the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series, visit the series website at www.nesmithracing.com.

You can also follow the series by Liking the Facebook page at NeSmith Racing

Follow us on Twitter @NeSmithRacing and Instagram @nesmithracing.

NeSmith Chevrolet, Buick, GMC is the Official Title Sponsor of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. Chevrolet Performance is an Official Sponsor of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series.

Hoosier Racing Tire is the Official Tire of the NeSmith Dirt Late Model Series. Sunoco Race Fuels is the Official Race Fuel of the Series. Knowles Race Parts and Bodies is the Official Parts Supplier of the Series. Cruise with the Champions is the Official Vacation and Rookie of the Year Sponsor for the Series.

RockAuto.com is an Associate Sponsor of the Series and Official Sponsor of the RockAuto.com Winter Shootout Series. David Smith Carburetors is the Official Carburetor of NeSmith Racing.

Contingency Sponsors Include: Out-Pace Performance, AR Bodies, Crate Insider.com, Gresham Racing Parts, Knowles Racing Parts and Bodies, and FreeStyle Graphix.

Chassis Sponsors are Trak-Star Race Cars, Warrior Race Cars, Rocket Chassis, GRT Race Cars, and CVR Race Cars.