RINGGOLD, GA – Cruz Skinner of Oxford, AL drove the Skinner Body Shop Rocket to his first career Durrence Layne Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series win Saturday night in the 50-lap Salute To America main event at Boyd’s Speedway. The 16-year-old driver with five years of Late Model experience put it all together to outrun his mentor in his formative years as a race car driver.

              Three-time Durrence Layne Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Champion Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, TN made one of his well-known late-race charges, but he couldn’t catch his student. By the time Johnson got to the second spot on lap 40, Skinner had a full straightaway lead. Johnson made up half the distance, but had to settle for second in the Josh Roberts Trucking Special.

              The two-time and defending Durrence Layne Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Champion Cory Hedgecock of Loudon, TN had another good points night with a third-place finish in the Eagle Racing Engines Rocket. Hedgecock will keep the Advance Lazer and Machine “Point Leader” rear spoiler on his race car.

              “To win my first Durrence Layne Chevrolet Late Model race in front of Ronnie and Cory with all of their wins and championships just hasn’t fully sunk in yet,” Skinner said. “Ronnie Johnson is my hero and my mentor. He has been so great in helping me ever since I started racing late models five years ago. I don’t know if I’d be standing here tonight if it wasn’t for Ronnie.”

              Another fast teenager, 16-year-old Will Roland of Jasper, GA took the fourth spot in the Roland Tire Special, and Jake Knowles of Rome, GA came back from a lap five crash to finish fifth in the Knowles Race Parts and Bodies Special. The 2008 Durrence Layne Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Champion Chip Brindle of Chatsworth, GA was sixth in the Hill Motorsports Warrior.

              Jamey Boland of Cuba, AL drove the Boland Performance Trak-Star “House Car” to a seventh-place finish to earn the Cruise With The Champions Rookie of the Race Award. Andy Picklesimer of Ooltewah, TN finished eighth in the Hyma Motorsports Special and Drew Kennedy of Lancing, TN took the ninth spot in the Schubert Monument Sales Rocket.

              Marcus Minga of Shannon, MS rounded out the top ten in the B&M Salvage Rocket. Mike Weeks of Lenoir City, TN started 24th and finished 11th in the Weeks Racing Rocket to earn the Beyea Headers Hard Charger of the Race Award.

              In preliminary action, Heath Hindman of Signal Mountain, TN was the Knowles Race Parts and Bodies Fast Qualifier by out-timing the 33 entrants with a lap around Boyds Speedway in 14.381 seconds in the Hindman Racing Special.  The two ten-lap B-Main races were won by Oakley Johns of Hohenwald, TN in the Johns Timber Special and Ross White of Knoxville, TN in the Royal Flush Rocket.

              At the start of the race, polesitter Hindman and outside front row starter Hedgecock raced side-by-side through turns one and two before Hindman took the lead followed by Hedgecock, Roland, Skinner, and Minga. Skinner came from his fifth starting spot to get by Roland for the third position on lap two, and Wil Herrington of Cochran, GA in the Last Air and Electric CVR got by Minga for fifth.

              White brought out the first of four caution flags when he stalled on the backstretch. With Hindman out in front by himself, Hedgecock in second chose the inside for the Dixie-style double-file restart. Skinner, Roland, Herrington, Minga, Brindle, Johnson, Johns, and Picklesimer doubled up behind the leader in third through tenth respectively.

              Skinner got busy on the restart by sailing around the outside of Hedgecock to take over the second spot. The field was slowed for the second time on lap five when Bryant Marsh of Corinth, MS in the Modern Woodmen of America Trak-Star tangled with Johns, and Knowles. Johns was done for the night, while Knowles and Marsh were able to continue.

              Durrence Layne Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series officials called for a single-file restart with Hindman out front followed by Skinner, Hedgecock, Roland, Herrington, Johnson, Brindle, Picklesimer, Minga, and Marsh in the top ten. Skinner was able to close in to Hindman’s back bumper on lap seven, and the teenager began looking inside on lap nine.

              Hindman caught the cars on the tail of the lead lap by lap 14, and the battle for the lead began to be waged in heavy lapped traffic. Hindman’s car began to show a loose condition in turn four on lap 16. On lap 19, Hindman’s machine slid up the banking in turn four to open the door for Skinner.

              The second place car guided by Skinner on the inside got under Hindman to take the lead coming off the fourth turn on lap 19. Skinner began to put some distance between himself and Hindman, while Hedgecock closed in to challenge for second. Hedgecock took over the second spot on lap 26, as Hindman began to drop back through the field.

              Lap 30 uncovered the reason for Hindman’s severe loose condition, as he stopped on the track in turn three with a cut down left rear tire. The restart saw Skinner leading followed by Hedgecock, Roland, Herrington, Johnson, Brindle, Picklesimer, Knowles, Minga, and Boland in the top ten.

              Herrington dropped out of the top five when he stalled in turn four on lap 34 to bring out the final caution flag of the race. That moved Johnson up to the fourth spot for the restart behind Skinner, Hedgecock and Roland. It was time for the Chattanooga Flash to go to work on the restart.  

              Skinner took off on the restart, while Johnson began to dust off the top shelf of Boyd’s Speedway. By lap 35, Skinner had an eight car-length advantage over Hedgecock, while Johnson sailed around Roland for the third spot on lap 39. 

            Johnson has his high-side momentum rolling, as he got by Hedgecock for second with ten laps to go. Johnson’s high flyer in the closing laps of the race to move up to the second spot earned Johnson the VP Racing Lubricants Smooth Move of the Race Award.

              Skinner had packed his bags, turned in the key and checked out on Johnson on lap 40, but the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame Inductee was turning lap times four tenths of a second faster than Skinner. It wasn’t enough, as Skinner held on to the bottom of the race track, and went under the checkered flag 2.570 seconds ahead of Johnson.

              The second race of the Salute To America Nationals for the Durrence Layne Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series will be on Tuesday night at Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, AL with a $2,500-to-win 50-lap main event, Round 8 of the 2018 season.

            NeSmith Racing is now Durrence Layne Racing! For more information and rules about the Durrence Layne Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series, visit the series web site at, or visit the series on Facebook at Durrence Layne Racing. You can follow us on Twitter @DurrenceLayneRacing.


POS      STRT   CAR #  DRIVER                            HOMETOWN                  LAPS    $ WON
1.           5            11          Cruz Skinner                   Oxford, AL                       50          $2,500
2.           8            85          Ronnie Johnson               Chattanooga, TN            50          $1,250
3.           2            23          Cory Hedgecock                            Loudon, TN                      50          $850
4.           3            22          Will Roland                      Jasper, GA                       50          $700
5.           13          66          Jake Knowles                  Rome, GA                         50          $650
6.           6            17          Chip Brindle                     Chatsworth, GA                             50          $550
7.           15          232       Jamey Boland (R)           Cuba, AL                           50          $500
8.           11          P1         Andy Picklesimer           Ooltewah, TN                   50          $450
9.           14          K37      Drew Kennedy                 Lancing, TN                     50          $400
10.         4            19          Marcus Minga                 Shannon, MS                    50          $375
11.         24          22w       Mike Weeks                     Lenoir City, TN               50          $350
12.         16          32          Chad Stapleton                Edinburgh, IN                  50          $300
13.         17          12          Ashton Winger (R)         Senoia, GA                        49          $280
14.         18          17jr      Tyler Wood                      Hohenwald, TN                48          $260
15.         19          14          Logan Palmer                  Acworth, GA                    48          $250
16.         23          05          T.J. Brittain                     Centre, AL                        48          $240
17.         22          73          Matt Steward                   Ooltewah, TN                   48          $220
18.         20          22b       Austin Burns (R)             Georgetown, IN               48          $200
19.         12          1m        Bryant Marsh (R)           Corinth, MS                     48          $200
20.         7            14h       Wil Herrington               Cochran, GA                    33          $200
21.         1            91          Heath Hindman               Signal Mtn., TN               29          $200
22.         21          22t        Jimmy Thomas                Phenix City, AL               28          $200
23.         9            C6         Oakley Johns                   Hohenwald, TN                4            $200
24.         10          22w       Ross White                       Knoxville, TN                  4            $200

PROVISIONALS: Brittain and Weeks
LAPS LEADERS: Hindman, 1-18; Skinner, 19-50
LAPS LED: Skinner, 32; Hindman, 18
BEYEA HEADERS HARD CHARGER: Weeks (started 24th and finished 11th)
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 2.570 Seconds
TIME OF THE RACE: 30 Minutes and 32.918 Seconds
NEXT EVENT: July 3, Talladega Short Track, Eastaboga, AL, $2,500-To-Win, 50 Laps