Roberts goes distance for $3,500 Cherokee victory
GAFFNEY, S.C. (July 15) — Polesitter Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., led all 35 laps Thursday at Cherokee Speedway to capture the second race on the Southern Nationals Series. Roberts ran virtually unchallenged for the $3,500 victory, outdistancing hometown driver Dennis “Rambo” Franklin, who won Tuesday’s series opener.
“That helps out a lot when you can start out front, for sure,” Roberts said. "Rambo, I knew he was going to be tough, but we had a good car for the race.”
Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., posted his second straight third-place finish while seventh-starting Johnny Pursley of Clover, S.C., was third at the 4/10-mile Upstate oval. Ross Bailes of Blacksburg, S.C., started third but slipped back to finish fifth while Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., rallied from 16th to finish sixth.
“The car was perfect,” said Franklin, the runner-up. "I just messed it up there in the feature and got ‘er too tight to roll around the bottom. My hat’s off to Casey. He had the better car tonight.”
Davenport grabbed third early in the race when Bailes pushed high in turn two, but he couldn’t advance any further.
“Just another solid points night, I guess,” said Davenport, last year’s series runner-up. "I’d really rather be racking up wins that points. Right now that’s all we can ask for. We’ll go on to the next and haven’t torn nothing up and see what we can do the rest of the week.”
Notes: Roberts drives a Victory Circle by Moyer Chassis with a Randy Clary Racing Engine and sponsorship from Cushman Paint and Body, Starrette Trucking, Dirtface Racewear, VP Race Fuels, Hoosier Tire South by Brian and Concept Graphics. ... Roberts has four career series victories, including two last season. ... Franklin won the Crate Late Model event. ... Among drivers missing the Southern Nationals feature: Donald Bradsher, Craig Shuffield, Brian Nuttall Jr., and Lee Sutton, who got upside down in time trials but wasn’t seriously injured. ... Next up on the series, scheduled for 10 races over 13 nights, is Friday’s $5,300-to-win event at Swainsboro (Ga.) Raceway.
Southern Nationals @ Cherokee: (1) Casey Roberts, (2) Dennis Franklin, (3) Jonathan Davenport, (4) Johnny Pursley, (5) Ross Bailes, (6) Clint Smith, (7) Tommy Kerr, (8) Ronny Lee Hollingsworth, (9) Tony Knowles, (10) Brian Booze, (11) Chris Brown, (12) Jeff Smith, (13) Kenny Compton Jr., (14) Scott Creel, (15) Mike Collins, (16) John Pursley, (17) John Henderson, (18) Vic Hill, (19) Brent Dixon, (20) Ethan Hunter, (21) Jeff Cooke, (22) G.R. Smith, (23) Chris Ferguson. Fast qualifier (among 31 cars): Roberts, 15.392 seconds. Consolation race winners: Creek, Ferguson. Provisional starters: Gault, Hunter.