It started with a third-place qualifying position and finished with a trip to the winner’s circle at South Georgia Motorsports Park. That was the basic path to X275 victory at No Mercy 11 for Blake Copson of Bridgewater, MA, who also won the Duck X Productions Magic 8 event earlier this year at Orlando, FL.
Driving a turbocharged ’03 Mustang Cobra for team owner Manny Buginga, Copson ran 4.23 in qualifying to follow only Dom DiDonato’s 4.22 and Ron Rhodes at 4.21 seconds in the top spot over 41 entries for the 32-car field.
“Manny put together a hell of a team and I just want to thank him for trusting me,” Copson said shortly after setting low ET for No Mercy 11 with a 4.18 at 171.58 mph to defeat an explosive Rhodes in the final round.
Copson got there through wins over Mark Miering, Alan Felts, Brian Brooks and Brian Christie in the preliminary rounds.
On the opposite side of the ladder, Rhodes took down Jason Ragan and Dan Christopher before catching a break in round three when Jamie Stanton narrowly redlighted away a 4.25 pass against a 4.52 in Rhodes’ lane. He regained his form in the semis, however, going 4.21 to beat Shane Heckel and secure lane choice for the final.
When the green flashed, Copson left with a .045 light in the right lane, with Rhodes just .003 behind in his preferred left lane. A tight battle ensued until just past the halfway point when a huge explosion suddenly slowed Rhodes’ nitrous-huffing ’68 Camaro.
“Yeah, we actually developed a gremlin here and I thought we had it fixed when we went and made nice clean hit in the semis,” Rhodes recalled. “I was like, good, we got it fixed. So we loaded it up because we knew those guys were going to be tough, and we were ready to go maybe a .19 or a .20, but she let go at the end.
“But the motor’s fine,” he added. “It’s not hurt. Just my pride. But I guess if you’re gonna’ go out, go out in spectacular fashion, know what I mean?”
Copson knew he was in a tough side-by-side fight when he caught the explosion in his peripheral sight just before the two red rockets reached the eight-mile stripe.
“We were pretty even at that point and I’m sure it made a good picture when it happened, but from then on I was just waiting for the win,” Copson said. “I’m just happy to bring this win to Manny and all the guys who work so hard on our cars.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) September 7, 2020