Roberts outduels Davenport, captures Tar Heel 53
By Chris TilleyTri-County Racetrack
BRASSTOWN, N.C. (Oct. 6) — Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., inherited the lead from fast qualifier Don O'Neal on the 22nd lap, then turned off a late-race challenge from Jonathan Davenport for a $3,500 victory in the eighth annual Tar Heel 53 at Tri-County Racetrack.
"We were tickled to death with our new car," said Roberts, piloting a new Capital Race Car produced by Marshall Green. "We had a really good race there, we really like racing with Jonathan and the caution came out there and saved us, it was just our night to win I guess."
Davenport, of Blairsville, Ga., settled for second ahead of Murphy, N.C., brothers Shawn and Johnny Chastain while O'Neal rallied after a tangle with lapped cars to finish fifth in the unsanctioned event promoted by long-time North Carolina racer Ray Cook.
O'Neal and Ross Bailes of Clover, S.C., led the 20-car field at the outset with O'Neal jumping into the early lead over Bailes and Shawn Chastain. The first of six cautions appeared on the eighth lap when Eric Jacobsen came to a stop, collecting Tommy Kerr.
Two laps later, David Payne of Murphy was up to second behind O'Neal, who led the race into the middle stages before Preston Graves and Danny Ledford went around in turn four right in front of the leaders.
O'Neal and Payne were caught up in the mess and Payne retired while O'Neal restarted on the tail.
Roberts moved up to lead the 22nd lap and, after a few more cautions, was in control while the fifth-starting Davenport worked toward the front. Two laps after a lap-39 caution, Davenport was making a move on Roberts, but another single-car caution reset the lineup with Roberts on top.
Davenport continued his assault, nipping Roberts at the line to lead lap 44, but Roberts made a crossover move to fight off Davenport's slide-job move with two laps remaining and held on for the victory.
"He done a slide job on us and we cut back under him; everything was clean," Roberts said. "I guess when it's your night, it's your night and we got it done tonight."
Notes: Roberts drives a Capital Race Car sponsored by Cushman Paint and Body. ... Tri-County champ George Mashburn of nearby Murphy finished 15th; Mashburn was collected in a Randy Nichols spin on the 24th lap and slowed for a lap-39 yellow. ... Among drivers failing to make the feature: David McCoy, Rodney Weeks, Glenn Barnett and Jamie Oliver. ... The event, traditionally leading into late-season events at Dixie and Rome Speedways in north Georgia, wraps up the oval racing season at Tri-County, promoted in 2011 by Ray Cook. ... The track hosts a demolition derby on Oct. 22.
Tar Heel 53: (1) Casey Roberts, (2) Jonathan Davenport, (3) Shawn Chastain, (4) Johnny Chastain, (5) Don O'Neal, (6) Benji Cole, (7) Billy Ogle Jr., (8) Ross Bailes, (9) Tommy Kerr, (10) Brent Dixon, (11) Ethan Hunter, (12) Jacob Anderson, (13) Randy Nichols, (14) Tony Knowles, (15) George Mashburn, (16) Eric Jacobsen, (17) David Payne, (18) Skip Arp, (19) Preston Graves, (20) Danny Ledford. Fast qualifier (among 28 cars): O'Neal, 13.115 seconds. Consolation race winners: J. Chastain, Roberts.