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Daily Dirt 05/25/2024 09:29:13

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March 4
Cherokee Speedway,
Gaffney, SC
Sanction: Southern All Star Series (March Madness) - $12,000
Information provided by: Various reports (last updated March 5, 9:37 pm)
Win turns Cherokee race into March Madden-ess
March Madness
  1. Chris Madden
  2. Scott Bloomquist
  3. Ross Bailes
  4. Don O'Neal
  5. Zack Mitchell
  6. Casey Roberts
  7. Jonathan Davenport
  8. Benji Hicks
  9. Kyle Hardy
  10. Michael Brown
  11. Pearson Lee Williams
  12. Chris Ferguson
  13. Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
  14. Dennis Franklin
  15. Tristan Sealy
  16. Chicky Barton
  17. Dustin Mitchell
  18. Brad Skinner
  19. Jay Scott
  20. Kenny Collins
  21. Mark Dodson
  22. Ray McElhiney
presented by
Kenneth Conyers/kmansphotos.com
Chris Madden earned $12,000 for his seventh Southern All Stars win at Cherokee Speedway.
What won the race: Taking the lead on the first lap of Sunday's 60-lap Southern All Star Series race at Cherokee Speedway, Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., dominated the event, turning back Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., for a $12,000 victory. Ross Bailes of Clover, S.C., finished third.
Key notes: Madden has four March Madness wins. ... Madden's 51 career SAS victories rank second on the all-time list behind Ronnie Johnson's 62 series wins.
On the move: Pearson Lee Williams improved nine positions after starting 20th.
Winner's sponsors: Madden’s Barry Wright Race Car is powered by a Clements Racing Engine and sponsored by Century Plastics, C&H Paving, Crowder Trucking, Davis Diesel Service, Harrod Logging, Henderson Amusement and Millwood Plumbing.
Points chase: The event opened the series season.
Car count: 23
Fast qualifier: Chris Madden
Time: 15.615 seconds
Heat race winners: Chris Ferguson, Don O'Neal, Chris Madden, Scott Bloomquist
Next series race: March 16, Southern Raceway (Milton, FL) $4,000
Editor's note: Updates Madden's 2018 sponsors and adds engine builder.
From series and staff reports

GAFFNEY, S.C. — It’s quite possible that Chris Madden has been perfectly satisfied with the start of his 2018 season. Then again, it’s Chris Madden, so there’s an outside chance that despite collecting three runner-up finishes and winning the overall DIRTcar Nationals title at Volusia Speedway Park during Georgia-Florida Speedweeks, the competitive Gray Court, S.C., driver felt as though he should’ve already had a victory by now.

Madden’s been oh so close in his new Barry Wright Race Cars Icon chassis, so much so that he’s probably been waiting with bated breath to say I told you so to the detractors who found fault in his offseason move to South Carolina-based chassis builder.

Wait no longer.

Madden dominated Sunday’s 15th annual Southern All Stars-sanctioned March Madness at Cherokee Speedway, earning $12,000 for his 51st career series victory and his series-leading seventh triumph at the 3/8-mile oval located just 17 miles from Wright’s shop in Cowpens.

Taking the lead from his second starting position on the opening circuit of the 60-lapper, Madden raced to a relatively easy victory over Scott Bloomquist, finishing 3.150 seconds ahead of the Hall-of-Fame driver from Mooresburg, Tenn. Ross Bailes, the 2017 March Madness winner from Clover, S.C., finished third, while Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., finished fourth. Zack Mitchell of Enoree, S.C., completed the top five.

“It’s just hard work paid off,” Madden said. “Me and Collin and Barry and Lance, Rodney and Toby and Jab, all the guys at the shop there … Joey, Shawn, you know, every one of them played a big part in this car. You know it’s just amazing to get a win here at home in front of all these people. We just picked up from where we left off in Florida. We spent a lot of time at the shop this week … many, many hours. We brought a whole different race car here this weekend and it really paid off.”

With passing at a premium, Madden was rarely challenged. He negotiated traffic with little trouble and dealt with only a handful of cautions as he circled the bottom-dominant track, often a byproduct of racing in the daytime.

“It was a little hairy through lapped traffic,” Madden said. “The racetrack wasn’t that wide for two cars, but we was able to pick us a spot over there entering (turn) three and we was able to hit our mark pretty much every time and make the pass when I need to make the pass.”

Fourth-starting Bloomquist moved by Ferguson following a restart on lap six and gave chase futilely, only managing to narrow the gap when Madden took his time around the occasional back marker. Bloomquist lost ground midway through the race when he slipped high on a restart and fell back to fifth. He managed to reclaim the lost positions on lap 52, however.

Third-running Ferguson spun out of contention on an initial restart on lap 52. Bloomquist then managed to get by Bailes on the next restart on the same lap to secure second. Bailes felt like his decision to pick the inside line on the final restart likely cost him a runner-up finish.

“I should have chose the outside on that last restart and Bloomquist got by me,” Bailes said. “But we’ll take it … first night out on the car. We’re happy with it. Lapped traffic was tough because they were in the rubber and I wanted to be there and I didn’t want to get above it. So I just tried to wait until they made a mistake to get by ‘em. I knew if I stayed on the inside, no one could get by me.

“Last year I had it set up just about the same way it was this year, with starting in the outside with like 10 (laps) to go and I should’ve known better, but I chose the inside and made the wrong decision.”

Notes: Sixteen drivers finished the race, with 13 completing all 60 laps. … Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C., started from the pole and ran in the top fie throughout the race until his late spin. He eventually finished 12th. … Making his first start at Cherokee, series hopeful Jay Scott of Fayetteville, Tenn., retired on lap 30 with an overheating engine. … Ray McElhiney of Pulaski, Tenn., slowed to bring out the first caution on lap six. … Madden was happy to be racing close to home and with a rare Sunday race giving the team a little break on Saturday, he took advantage by spending time with his son Avery. “We spent all day (Saturday) at the ballfield. We worked late Friday night on this car, went back over there and worked Saturday morning and then we spent (of Saturday) at the ballfield with (Avery).”

Feature lineup

Row 1: Ferguson, Madden
Row 2: O’Neal, Bloomquist
Row 3: Bailes, Davenport
Row 4: Hicks, Roberts
Row 5: Z. Mitchell, Brown
Row 6: Hardy, D. Mitchell
Row 7: Lloyd Jr., Skinner
Row 8: Franklin, Collins
Row 9: Scott, Barton
Row 10: Sealy, Williams
Row 11: McElhiney, Dodson

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