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Rolison's new crew chief lends energy, youth to racing

By By Steve Swogetinsky / special to The Star
April 2, 2004
Roger Rolison had a new pit crew chief Saturday night when he ran his first race of the 2004 Late Model Season at the Queen City Speedway.
Keeping an eye on the nuts and bolts of the car and granddaddy's driving was Rolison's five-year-old grandson, Cameron Keith. Cameron was under the car with Rolison before the feature race, making sure that everything was just so.
A Clarke County resident, Rolison has been around dirt track racing in East Mississippi since the early 1970s. He raced at Queen City from 1973 until 1977.
In the late 1990s, Rolison helped his son-in-law's nephew with go-kart racing. Before you knew it, Rolison was racing go-karts, too, and that led to him getting back into racing cars again in 1999.
Rolison described the 2003 season as an off year, but he plans to turn that around once he gets his car the way he wants it. It didn't start out too well Saturday night as he spun out in the heat race and wrecked on the 18th lap of the feature race.
A new division for this team
The McElhenney team of Decatur moved up to the Late Model Division this year after the Pro Street Division had been all but eliminated.
Chris McElhenney drives the No. 27 car, which is owned by his father, Murray McElhenney and placed fourth overall in the Saturday night race at Queen City.
McElhenney said experience really counts in this division, adding that 2004 will probably be a learning year.
Going home early
The races were over at 10:15 p.m. Saturday night at Queen City, which was better than the first weekend when the last race ended around 12:45 a.m. A big part of that late finish was the running of the Mississippi State Championship Challenge Series, which drew 43 Late Model cars.
It takes time to put that many cars through time trials. Then you have to divide the ones that didn't qualify into two heat races which have to be run. And then you still have the 50-lap feature race. Add this to the regular schedule of races and you have a long evening of racing.
From now on, in an effort to have the races over by 10:30 p.m., which is the curfew time, everything has been pushed up 30 minutes. The drivers' meeting now starts at 6:30 p.m. and the time trials are set to begin at 7 p.m.
Off the road this weekend
In addition to their Queen City duties, Charles Thrash and his wife, Janne, help run the Mississippi State Championship Series and must be at every race. They were at D'Lo in Simpson County last Saturday night for the third series races.
Familiar Mississippi champion series leader
Scott Slay of Clinton, the defending series champion, won at the Simpson County Motorsports Park on Saturday and took over the series lead, according to the MSCCA internet site press release.
Slay bested 33 cars and collected $2,500 for winning the 50-lap race.
Randy Walters won the pole in time trials with Slay coming in second.
The three B-Main events qualifying races were run with Phillip Cooper, Chris Wall, and Josh Fuller taking wins. Completing the 22-car starting field was MSCCS provisional David Breazeale and track provisional Pat Nichols.
Slay took an early lead and never trailed. He claimed his first MSCCS win of the 2004 season and now has 360 points. Dennis Duncan placed second while Mike Boland of Cuba, Ala., came in third. Boland, who had his car turned over at the start of the series race held March 20 at Queen City, started 14th in the D'Lo race. He moved up 11 places. Finishing out the top five were defending SCMP Track Champion George Paul and Meridian's Rodney Wing. Wing's top five finish, added to his second place finish at Queen City, moved him into second place in the points standings, trailing the leader by 40.
Jimbo McDuffie, who won the first series race at the South Mississippi Speedway on the coast, wrecked and finished 22nd. He fell out of the top 10.
Rounding out the top 10 finishers were Phillip Cooper, Chris Wall, Josh Fuller in eighth, with Jason Cliburn and Steve Bynum picking up top 10 runs as well.
The next stop on the MSCCS tour will be on April 10 at the quarter-mile semi banked oval of Jackson Motor Speedway in Byram.
By the numbers
The official MSCCS finish at D'Lo Saturday was as follows:
1. Scott Slay, 2. Dennis Duncan, 3. Mike Boland, 4. George Paul, 5. Rodney Wing, 6. Philip Cooper, 7. Chris Wall, 8. Josh Fuller, 9. Jason Cliburn, 10. Steve Bynum, 11. David Breazeale, 12. Randy Little, 13. Jimmy Cliburn, 14. Greg Fore, 15. Steve Russell, 16. Randy Walters, 17. Keith Miller, 18. Lucky Keeton, 19. Gary Cooper, 20. Pat Nichols, 21.Brock Wester, 22.Jim McDuffie.
MSCCS Top 10 in points:
1. Scott Slay 360, 2. Rodney Wing 320, 3. Dennis Duncan 305, 4. David Breazeale 300, 5. Chris Wall 295, 6. Anthony Rushing 270, 7. Phillip Cooper 250, 8. Jason Cliburn 245, 9. Jimmy Cliburn 240, 10 Keith Miller-225.
For more information about the Mississippi State Championship Challenge Series, visit the MSCCS website at www.stateseries.com or call Charles Thrash at 601-917-2335 days or 601-482-5251 evenings.
Upcoming MSSCS Events:
April 10: Jackson Motor Speedway, $2,500 to win
April 16: Southern Speedway, $2,000 to win
April 17: South Mississippi Speedway, $2,500 to win
Big Late Model race in Columbus on Saturday
While the MSCCA series takes the weekend off, the Columbus Speedway will host the 12th Annual James King Memorial this weekend, according to internet reports.
This Friday and Saturday night, Columbus Speedway will host the 12th annual running of the James King Memorial. The 2004 edition will pay an event record $12,000 to the Super Late Model winner.
Past James King Memorial winners include Wendell Wallace, Bill Frye, James Cline, Donnie Barnhart, Johnny Virden, Billy Moyer, Johnny Stokes, Mike Head, Robbie Starnes, Don O'Neal, and 2-time, defending, and only repeat James King Memorial champion Freddy Smith of Knoxville, Tenn.

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