SENOIA, Ga. — It's no secret that Ashton Winger would be among the top racers entering Nov. 12-13's inaugural Peach State Classic at Senoia Raceway, a record-setting weekend with $10,000- and $52,052-to-win programs for Super Late Models.
But after Friday and Saturday's victories for Winger in Southern All Star competition, the 21-year-old Hampton, Ga., driver is the clear-cut favorite for next month's showdown at the Pollard family-operated track.
Winger, who earned a $3,000 victory Friday, completed an SAS weekend sweep Saturday by outrunning top-ranked Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., for a $10,000 victory in the Hence and Reba Pollard Memorial. The polesitting Winger overtook his fellow front-row starter on the fifth lap and led the rest of the 52-lap main event to remain unbeaten in five Super Late Model starts at Senoia in 2021.
Can the new driver of the North Carolina-based Brodnax-Shaker Motorsports ride (lined up by G.R. Smith and J.C. Clary) collect more than $62,000 next month at Senoia?
"Man, I sure as hell hope so. That'd be awesome," Winger said in victory lane. "But I ain't even thinking about that (Senoia unbeaten) streak right now. All I'm thinking about is getting this thing loaded up and headed north back to North Carolina."
He'll get there quickly if he's anywhere as fast as he was at Senoia in zipping through traffic to prevent Overton from challenging him in the final 40 laps. Overton settled for second with Ricky Weiss of Headingley, Manitoba, in third. Austin Horton of Newnan, Ga., and Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., rounded out the top five finishers in a race where the lone caution appeared early for Kyler Haygood's turn-four spin.
Overton got the jump on Winger at the outset, but as the frontrunners entered traffic, Winger was ready to pounce.
"Brandon just did a better job than me there on that start. He had me beat enough to where all I could really do was go in there and show him that I was there, and hope that he'd mess up, and he didn't," Winger said. "When we got into lapped traffic, that top was just so dominant. It blew off a little bit, but by the time we got there, it was just enough of an opening to slide (past) him and like three lapped cars at one point. You know, he had a couple of runs back at me on the bottom. I appreciate him racing my clean."
Winger was thrilled his the quality of his car and the racing surface.
"This place is badass. It's wide, you can race, it seems like 10 lanes on it. The main thing I do is I go in there and I try to attack lapped traffic as hard as I can. And even if them guys cross me over, at least they know I'm there and, you know, they're good enough about letting me go, and I appreciate that," he said. "It really all goes to having a really maneuverable race car and having awesome people around me. I get to do the front part. As hard as it may be to believe, this is definitely the easy part. And everybody behind me who works their ass off on this thing, it don't go unnoticed and I'm super thankful for it."
Overton was impressed with Winger's continued Senoia success.
"He's just got something figured out over there. They're really good. He's got a really good chance to make a lot of money coming up," the runner-up said, adding that Winger is able to "go wherever he needs to go and he just did a good job. I don't know if the traffic would've mattered anyway ... He could leave (the corners) a lot harder than I could, so, like I said, it is what it is. Congrats to them. I just want to thank all my sponsors and my crew. I'll say we ain't done yet — we'll be back."
Weiss plans to be back for the Peach State Classic, too — "Hopefully we can knock Ashton off the top," he said — after his third-place finish.
"Early when I went up to the top there, the car was actually too good, and on a long race there, that's usually not a good sign," he said. "I've never really been here when they watered the top (prior to the main event) like that. I didn't know how long it would last. You could kind of see the track (transition). I think Overton came off (the top) a little earlier, then Ashton started sliding through and he could leave the corner a little bit better."
Notes: Winger has seven career Southern All Star victories. ... He has 11 Super Late Model victories overall in 2021. ... The 18-minute, 33-second race was among the quickest for a 50-plus lapper in series history. ... The Southern All Stars had several late-season cancellations and are scheduled to wrap up the season Nov. 20 at Boyd's Speedway in Ringgold, Ga.