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Cherokee Speedway Hall of Fame 40 Race Recap
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Posted by:  RaceRap on September 7, 2017 at 7:10am
In Reply to: Cherokee Speedway Hall of Fame 40 by RaceRap on September 7, 2017 at 7:09am

RACE RECAP
Ross Bailes visited Cherokee Speedway for the Stick Elliott Memorial Race on August 5, 2017 having fun doing what he loves to do – racing late models. After a very successful year in 2016 with Carolina Clash as the series runner-up, Bailes entered the 2017 season hoping to carry that momentum with more feature wins than the year before. So far, in 12 races, Bailes has notched three – just one shy of tying his win total from the previous year. These three wins have been different from last year, when most of them came while behind the wheel of the #87 Felony Farms/Ronnie McCarter/Bailes Construction ride in that car. The first win of 2017 finally came in the #87 during the August Stick Elliott Memorial at Cherokee.

Then, things began to change rapidly for Bailes after getting the nod from legendary car owner/chassis designer and builder Barry Wright of Cowpens, South Carolina. He was asked to come over and consider getting into the 40th anniversary ICON by Barry Wright, which had recently been vacated by Jonathan Davenport. Bailes was quick to show success with two second-place finishes in mid-August.
Bailes then stepped aside for one weekend to drive for long-time friend Billy Hicks in the H&H Auto Sales of Mt. Airy, NC/Galax, VA #79 team for a Carolina Clash event at Fayetteville Motor Speedway. Bailes, who admittedly experienced previous struggles at Fayetteville, used his experience in Hicks’ #79 to power his way to his first Boom City win last weekend. Hicks scored the win as a driver of another owners car in 2014 and as an owner of another driver at Fayetteville in 2017.

They would then set sights on the Lancaster/Cherokee weekend with Clash back with BWRC. The disappointing cancellation of the Lancaster event left them with only the Cherokee race to prepare for. Lancaster Super Speedway, a track where Bailes first experienced success in a limited late model Barry Wright Race Car way back in 2007, would have been the perfect highlight reel for Bailes to bring Barry Wright his first win in super late models in over a year – at a track where Wright has had cars with numerous wins in late model racing over the past three decades. However, Lancaster Speedway track management determined that due to threatening weather, it was best to cancel the event the day before. Plans for a make-up event have not been finalized as of this release.
With the Cherokee event on slate as planned, the Carolina Clash st up for race #12 of the season in front of a large crowd and over 150 total cars in attendance for a classic Sunday night showdown, including 19 Carolina Clash attendees.

Johnny Pursley is the defending Carolina Clash champion and made it very clear that he was not finished with success in 2017. After an up and down season since his season-opening win at the Skyler Trull Memorial Race, Pursley was very fast – super fast – pushing his #09 Longhorn powered by Clements sponsored by Farmer’s Service Center and Pursley Grading. He would go on to set the Heintz Performance Fast Time of the Race with a lap of 15.295 and would start on the front row alongside Ross Bailes, who scored a lap speed of 15.411.

Tim Allen of Kannapolis, NC has been teaming up with Nichols Plumbing of Fayetteville, NC and steadily improving in the #5. He qualified third for the race, but his time was voided after not meeting required weight after qualifying. That moved Brett Hamm up into third and Anthony Sanders of Spartanburg, SC into fourth, locking them into the feature. Sanders has been very fast lately and showing a much improved average starting spot this season.

TOP FIVE FINISHERS

WINNER: Ross Bailes
Ross Bailes started from the inside of the front row. He was in an epic battle with Michael Brown in the opening 10 laps of the main. Pursley, Bailes and Brown held the top three in the first quarter of the event. Bailes cleared Brown for second on lap 7 and then set sights on Pursley. He made the run on Pursley on lap 10 and cleared for the outright lead on lap 11. The C&H Paving and Asphalt, B&A Pallet Division ICON by Barry Wright powered by Clements pulled away to lead the remainder of the 40 lap feature.

RUNNER-UP: Michael Brown
Michael Brown is the Clarendon Auto Parts/Carquest Rookie of the Year points leader and is currently second in points after the Cherokee race. He carries the colors of McCloud Motorsports in the #2,4D Rocket XR1 powered by Clements with sponsorship from Black Crest Farms, Piggly Wiggly Food Stores and Southeast Collision Center. He captured the win in the Hoosier Tires Heat Race #1. Brown started fifth in the event and was in a raging battle with Johnny Pursley for second and third over most of the first half of the race. On a lap 27 restart, Brown slipped back to fourth and nearly lost to fifth, but most gain his composure and race back to a solid second-place Cherokee finish – twice a second in two Cherokee races.

THIRD: Donald Bradsher
Donald Bradsher of Burlington, NC in the #93 Mega Plumbling of the Carolinas Longhorn powered by Vic Hill Race Engines started in the middle of the field. He made a power move around Michael Brown on lap 27 for second place, before Brown speed to his inside for the final pass of the race off turn two on lap 37. Bradsher scored a very solid third-place run.

FOURTH: Dennis Franklin
Three-time Carolina Clash champion Dennis Franklin continues to carry the banner for M&W Towing and scored another top five finish with Clash after winning the American Racer Heat Race #2. Franklin had raced his way into third on lap 28 and challenged for second momentarily, but settled in for a solid fourth-place run. The event at Cherokee Speedway feature the Hall of Fame induction for Franklin’s father, Dick Franklin, for his many years of contributions and support of the legendary Cherokee County oval.

FIFTH: Brent Dixon
Elberton, GA native Brent Dixon made his third start with the Carolina Clash at Cherokee Speedway and managed to claw his way into the top five after a myriad of mechanical failures plagued several top ten cars fell off pace middle-to-late in the feature. He charged from a 13th starting spot to fifth, missing the Safety Kleen Hard Charger of the. His run up eight spots was only bested by Jeremy Conaway, who started 18th and finished 9th. Dixon is sponsored by Swiftco Group and Jacky Jones Automotive.

OTHER NOTABLES
Johnny Pursley had a drive shaft failure on lap 26 while running third. He went on to finish 14th in the final results.

Jeff Smith ran 7th and 8th over the second-half of the feature in the Chaos Cages, Plexus Healthcare by Heather #00. He currently is fourth in championship point standings.
John Henderson of North Augusta, SC scored his second top ten with Carolina Clash and finished 6th.

Brett Hamm was fast early, but fell to 9th by halfway. He managed to use a few strategic moves to make his way back to 6th. He landed 7th in the final results.

Springfield, Illinois Jeremy Conaway, who recently teamed with Concord, NC racer Derrick Ramey survived for a 9th place finish in his CKS Racing, IHOP and Parkland Environmental and Diamond Towing team car.

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