Neil Baggett celebrates his COMP Cams Super Late Model feature win Thursday at Magnolia Motor Speedway. Photo by: David Miller/Special to The Dispatch
July 6, 2018 8:54:50 AM
It wasn't Neil Baggett's first win of the season, but it was his most gratifying in what's becoming a banner year for the Columbus resident.
Baggett led every lap of the COMP Cams Super Late Model race Thursday night at Magnolia Motor Speedway, holding off a last-lap run by Cade Dillard for his first COMP Cams win and $2,000.
"Our guys on the State Series are tough, and racing that (COMP Cams) series is like combining two of our series. You got 15 cars that can win," Baggett said, "so when you run against this group of guys, you feel like you've accomplished a lot."
Baggett won his first Mississippi State Championship Challenge Series race of the season two weeks ago, and has finished in the top three in his last four State Series races. He leads the State Series points table. His latest victory was his second Super Late Model win this season at Magnolia.
Baggett said his race program is "hitting on 100 percent," and his season goals are to win the State Series points championship and to close the season with a big-money win against national competition at Magnolia or Whynot Motorsports Park in Meridian.
"If the driver doesn't fall down, our car is capable of winning one of those races," Baggett said. "I can't thank Jeremy Harris, Al Johnson, the Rickmans ... they've helped me a ton with equipment I don't necessarily have."
Baggett built early leads by racing the middle and top and was rarely threatened for the lead even as he, Dillard, and third-place finisher Chad Thrash navigated lap-traffic. Dillard, though, dove underneath Baggett in turns three and four on a few different laps late in the race, but Baggett's momentum off the cushion was strong.
"I could hear (Dillard) a couple of times," Baggett said. "I just felt like, if I hit my mark, I'll be OK."
Baggett missed his mark on the final lap and had to check up on the cushion in turn four as Dillard dove low to split a lap car. Dillard reached Baggett's door but couldn't power past him at the finish line.
"I went into turn three and shoved and the car just sat down," Baggett said. "I thought I was going to drive into the wall. Then I looked, and there (Cade) was. I peeled back up and had just enough brown to hammer coming off."
Dillard said he contemplated sliding Baggett off turn four on the final lap, a move he hadn't come close to executing in previous attempts to beat Baggett low. Dillard said he probably could have cleared Baggett, but he "wasn't going to take the chance" and risk wrecking Baggett.
"I was trying to get down there and hopefully get him to move down off the top," Dillard said. "We were decent through the bottom, but the top was just so dominant. I wish I had been a little closer to him coming off (turn) two on that last lap. We probably could have made something happen."
Baggett said he thanked Dillard for the clean race.
"He drove me clean, and I like told him in victory lane, I'll remember that when I race him next -- if I'm ever in that same opportunity," Baggett said.
Jack Sullivan and Kyle Beard finished fourth and fifth.
n In other action, Evan Ellis won the Durrence Layne Late Model race for his ninth feature victory of the season. Chad McCool won the Durrence Layne Sportsman feature. Lee Ray won the Street Stocks feature. It was his ninth win of the season.
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