Mini Stock driver Joseph Pittman of Lucama, with flag, celebrates in victory lane with friends and family after scoring his first career Southern National victory on Saturday night.
Andy Marquis | SNMP
By Andy Marquis
Southern National Motorsports Park
LUCAMA — Popular hometown racer Joseph Pittman stole the spotlight on Saturday night, scoring his first career win at Southern National Motorsports Park.
The 32-year-old from Lucama has been racing at Southern National Motorsports Park for five years in what is now the Mini Stock division and had come close to victory in the past, but had never won at his home track. Pittman would change that on Saturday night, leading wire-to-wire in the 25-lap Mini Stock feature for his eighth career triumph and his first at Southern National.
“We’ve been trying for this a long time,” an emotional Pittman said in victory lane after his triumph. “We’ve been close a few times but this is what we’ve been trying for the whole time I’ve been racing. It’s even more special that everybody did come out tonight to support me. Makes it even better.”
Pittman, who drives an Acura, qualified on the pole and bested a field which consisted mostly of Toyota Celicas, which has arguably been the dominant car in the division at Southern National throughout the years. As he pulled into victory lane, he was greeted by a small army of supporters — fans, family and racers alike.
“I was kind of surprised,” Pittman remarked. “We’ve been trying some stuff a little different. A couple of weeks ago, got a pole, got rained out and didn’t change much. It was rolling, couldn’t believe it. I hope we can continue to do it. We’ll try to change some stuff. This is very special, it means a lot.”
Lee Horner finished second in the Mini Stock feature while PJ Flowers, Ronnie “Buckshot” Jones and Thomas Brander rounded out the top five.
Another hometown hero prevailed in the 35-lap Charger feature.
Ronald Renfrow from Kenly dominated in the race, leading wire-to-wire to score his first win of the 2017 racing season.
“I give all the glory to God,” the 37-year-old Renfrow said. “Without His sacrifice, none of this would be possible.”
Renfrow started out the season racing in the Late Model division, but stepped down to Charger due to health reasons.
“After I donated my kidney, I didn’t realize I should be taking better care of myself than I do, being hardheaded,” Renfrow explained. “Twin 40-lap races took a lot out of me. Trying to get all that straightened out and we can get back to some twin racing but 35 laps, 11 cars in Charger, biggest crowd all year and good competition.”
Justin Mitchell, making his Charger debut, finished second while Brian Obiedzenski, Jonathan Kornegay and Jeremy Bohne rounded out the top five.
Mason Diaz swept the Late Model duels to score his third and fourth wins of the 2017 season and extend his points lead in the track championship standings.
“All in all, good night,” Diaz said. “Mike Darne Racing made fast cars this weekend. We led the morning practice, both practices, qualifying and won both races. Best weekend ever. What we’re looking for this season, wins and out front.”
Diaz executed a bump-and-run on teammate Jonathan Findley with two laps to go in the first race to take the lead, and the win.
“The pass with Findley at the end of the run, had to do what I had to do to win,” Diaz stated. “He would’ve done the same to me, at least I hope he would. Just because we’re teammates doesn’t mean we race each other clean on the track. We had the better car. He definitely had a fast car too.”
After an eight-car invert, Diaz was lined up to start the second race in eighth but mechanical problems sidelined Findley before the start of the race. Diaz methodically worked his way to the front, taking the lead on lap 19 and driving away from Chris Chapman and Rusty Daniels to get the win.
“Had to be patient,” Diaz commented. “There was a whole bunch of side-by-side racing at the beginning and I just had to wait for it to file out and make my move to the front.”
Emily Day got the win in the Bandolero division, her first of the 2017 season, beating out Ethan Johnson and Josh Speas. Meanwhile, Tommy Jackson Jr. got his second win of the season in the Legend Car division, ahead of Will Bristle and Chris Floars.
Southern National Motorsports Park will be back in action on Saturday, June 24, with a 100-lap feature for the Fast Five Pro Late Model Series. The race also features twin Late Model races, Chargers, Mini Stocks, Legends, Bandoleros and Any Cars.
For more information about Southern National Motorsports Park, check out SNMP’s website at www.snmpark.com, “like” Southern National Motorsports Park on Facebook or “follow” @SNM_Park on Twitter.