SYLVANIA, Ga. — The best way to avoid potential fender-scraping action at Screven Motor Speedway? Start on the front row. That was the philosophy Ross Bailes proved successful Saturday at the tight 3/8-mile oval located just 50 miles northwest of Savannah. Bailes, of Clover, S.C., stayed just far enough ahead of the mad scramble for second — and other spots inside the top five — while leading all 53 laps to win the track’s 20th annual Rebel Yell.
In earning $10,000 for winning his first career Southern Nationals main event — his fourth five-figure payday of the season — Bailes finished comfortably ahead of two-time Rebel Yell winner Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., who emerged from a lenghty, back-and-forth battle with Jake Knowles of Rome, Ga., to finish second. The seventh-starting Knowles improved four spots to finish third, while eighth-starting Trent Ivey of Union, S.C., finished fourth. Dennis Franklin of Gaffney, S.C., completed the top five after starting ninth.
Bailes grabbed the lead from his pole starting position and held on through nine cautions. While he didn’t run away from the field, he was never challenged in finishing 0.753 seconds ahead of Roberts.
“I think the inside was important, but the main thing was starting on the front row,” said Bailes. “Last weekend at Wythe and Cherokee I missed fast time by 2/100th of a second. So the best I could have started both nights was fourth. I mean, that means everything starting on the front row.”
Bailes rarely had to contend with lapped traffic, in part due to the excessive number of cautions, including five in the first seven laps. During the two longest stretches of continuous green-flag runs — one a 16-lap stretch, the other 18 laps — Bailes worked both high and low to maintain his advantage.
“(Lance Wright) was signaling me to move up in (turns) three and four because I think Chris (Ferguson) was coming up through there pretty good and when I moved up I felt a lot better,” said Bailes. “We had a softer tire on and I didn’t want to use it up so as soon as I got a big enough cushion, he motioned me down to try to manage that.”
While Bailes steered his Barry Wright Race Cars house car safely out front, behind him the hotly contested skirmishes for the other four positions inside the top five raged on. Early front runners Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., and Donald McIntosh of Dawsonville, Ga. — the top two drivers in series points entering the race — had trouble, as did contenders Tanner English of Benton, Ky., and Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C.
English, who started alongside Bailes on the front row, held the second spot for nearly half the distance before being sidelined by engine trouble. Contact between English and Ferguson, just after Ferguson wrestled second away, resulted in Ferguson looping his machine in turn two. Ferguson continued on without stopping, though he lost several spots in the lap-19 exchange.
Overton spun twice, the first time on lap four as he battled English for second, and again on lap 25 thanks in part to steering woes from earlier contact with Ferguson. McIntosh exited on lap five after suffering suspension issues as well, a result he said of “getting put into the wall” by Knowles.
With attrition playing its part, Roberts and Knowles were left to battle for runner-up honors. And battle they did. The two raced side-by-side for a dozen laps before a second spin by Ferguson brought out the ninth yellow flag with just three laps remaining. Roberts, working the high side, managed to stay ahead long enough, and more importantly, each time they crossed the line, that he was able to take advantage of the single-file restart with three circuits to go and kept Knowles at bay.
“He had the hard job as far as us staying off of one another,” said Roberts of the door-to-door fight with Knowles. “Because I was kinda married to the cushion up top, my job was easy. Hat’s off to him for staying off of me and racing me clean. When you’re down there running on the bottom of someone, that’s where you got to really pay attention and he left me … like I said hat’s off to him … he left me my lane like he should and I respect him for that and I’ll definitely return the favor to him in the future if we race like that some more.
“I wish that could have been for the win instead of second, but oh well, congratulations to Ross. We just went a little bit hard on our tire call there … my fault. I should have chose a different tire. Anyway, we’ll take it and build on the second. The way our luck has been, it’s like a win for us, so we’ll take it. Hopefully next time we go out we’ll get one spot better.”
Notes: Ross Bailes’ fourth victory of the season worth at least $10,000 comes with his fourth different series. He’s won on both the Lucas Oil Series and World of Outlaws tours, as well as with the Schaeffer’s Spring Nationals tour. “It says all it needs to say about out team,” said Bailes. “I feel like we can go to any series or any track … with the exception of me (having) a learning curve going to a new track and be very competitive. I mean, we went to Eldora and won a heat race and finished third in a prelim and made the feature, you know, at a track I’d never seen before. So that tells me how good the car is.” … With five cautions in the early going, it took awhile for the race to find its rhythm. Caution waved on lap four for a Brandon Overton; lap five for a slowing Michael Page; a lap-five restart for Donald McIntosh; another lap-five restart for a nine-car melee on the front stretch; lap seven for Michael Brown’s flat tire; lap 26 for another Overton spin; lap 32 for a slowing John Henderson; lap 50 for a spin by Chris Ferguson; and the lap-50 restart for another spin by Ferguson. … Page said he slowed on lap five because he pulled all his tear-offs off at one time and he couldn’t see. … Ferguson was back up to fourth when spun on lap 50. … After pitting for a flat on lap seven, Brown rallied back to finish seventh. … Twelve cars finished the race, with 11 completing all 53 laps. … Debuting a new XR1 Rocket, Austin Smith of Rome, Ga., finished 11th. … Screven hosted the Southern Nationals for the 12th time.
Preliminary notes and results
Row 1: Ross Bailes, Tanner English
Row 2: Michael Brown, Casey Roberts
Row 3: Brandon Overton, Donald McIntosh
Row 4: Jake Knowles, Trent Ivey
Row 5: Dennis Franklin, Michael Page
Row 6: Cla Knight, Corey Gordon
Row 7: Brian Connor, Chris Ferguson
Row 8: Tyler Clem, Austin Smith
Row 9: Steven Roberts, John Henderson
Row 10: Ryan Crane, Kenny Collins
Row 11: Anthony Sanders, Clay Harris
Row 12: Aaron Ridley, Chesley Dixon
Row 13: Clint Smith
From the pole position, two-time Screven Southern Nationals winner Casey Roberts pulled ahead on the opening lap and went on to win the fourth heat unchallenged. Trent Ivey advanced from third to challenge second-running Corey Gordon. The two exchanged sliders until Ivey finally secured the spot on lap seven. Ivey eased away from Gordon by two lengths, but couldn’t run down Roberts. Gordon finished third with Austin Smith fourth. Kenny Collins was slated to start on the outside front row, but had a flat in staging and had to tag the tail after changing the tire.
Finish: Casey Roberts, Trent Ivey, Corey Gordon, Austin Smith, Kenny Collins, Chelsea Dixon.
Outside front row starter Michael Page got the jump on polesitter Tanner English on the start, but English, of Benton, Ky., squeezed by Page in turn two and went on to lead all 10 laps of the caution-free third heat. As English built a comfortable lead, Page gave up the second spot to Donald McIntosh. McIntosh cleared Page on lap three, but couldn’t make up any ground on the leader and settled for second. Page held on to finish third despite a fierce challenge from Chris Ferguson. Ferguson used a slider to grab third with two laps remaining, but Page crossed over to take the spot back and held it to the finish.
Finish: Tanner English, Donald McIntosh, Michael Page, Chris Ferguson, John Henderson, Clay Harris.
Michael Brown of Pageland, S.C., dominated the second heat. Brown won by more than a straightaway ahead of Jake Knowles, who finally took the runner-up spot after a lengthy battle with Cla Knight. With Knight running the top, Knowles worked the bottom of the track and trailed for seven laps before finally slipping by on lap seven. Brown won the heat by a straightaway over Knowles. Knight finished third, white Tyler Clem fourth.
Finish: Michael Brown, Jake Knowles, Cla Knight, Tyler Clem, Ryan Crane, Aaron Ridley.
Overall fast qualifier Ross Bailes of Clover, S.C., led flag-to-flag to win the first heat. Bailes pulled away from fellow front row starter Brandon Overton and cruised to the win. Overton fell back and trailed by as much as five car lengths before rallying in the second half of the caution-free heat to close to within two lengths. Both Bailes and Overton rolled around the top, well ahead of fourth-starting Dennis Franklin, who finished third ahead of Brian Connor, who advanced from sixth to finish fourth.
Finish: Ross Bailes, Brandon Overton, Dennis Franklin, Brian Connor, Steven Roberts, Anthony Sanders, Clint Smith.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps, all transfer to feature)
Row 1: Ross Bailes, Brandon Overton
Row 2: Anthony Sanders, Dennis Franklin
Row 3: Steven Roberts, Brian Connor
Row 4: Clint Smith
Row 1: Michal Brown, Cla Knight
Row 2: Jake Knowles, Tyler Clem
Row 3: Ryan Crane, Aaron Ridley
Row 1: Tanner English, Michael Page
Row 2: Donald McIntosh, Chris Ferguson
Row 3: John Henderson, Clay Harris
Row 1: Casey Roberts, Kenny Collins
Row 2: Trent Ivey, Corey Gordon
Row 3: Chelsea Dixon, Austin Smith
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Ross Bailes (87), Clover, S.C., 14.565
Michael Brown (79), Pageland, S.C., 14.923
Brandon Overton (2), Evans, Ga., 14.925
Cla Knight (42), North Augusta, S.C., 15.014
Anthony Sanders (421), Spartanburg, S.C., 15.119
Jake Knowles (66), Rome, Ga., 15.150
Dennis Franklin (2), Gaffney, S.C., 15.171
Tyler Clem (58T), St. Petersburg, Fla., 15.176
Steven Roberts (91), Jesup, Ga., 15.279
Ryan Crane (10), Panama City, Fla., 15.346
Brian Connor (77), Martinez, Ga., 15.369
Aaron Ridley (81), Chatsworth, Ga., 15.426
Clint Smith (44), Senoia, Ga., 15.513
Tanner English (58), Benton, Ky., 14.720
Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga., 14.984
Michael Page (18), Douglasville, Ga., 15.025
Kenny Collins (1C), Colbert, Ga., 15.030
Donald McIntosh (7M), Dawsonville, Ga., 15.083
Trent Ivey (88), Union, S.C., 15.088
Corey Gordon (5), Charlotte, N.C., 15.228
Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., 15.228
John Henderson (2x), North Augusta, S.C., 15.371
Chesley Dixon (3), Swainsboro, Ga., 15.470
Clay Harris (6), Jupiter, Fla., 15.475
Austin Smith (84), Rome, Ga., 15.889
Following back-to-back rainouts after heading into Georgia, the fourth round of the Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals visits Screven Motor Speedway, a 3/8th-mile red clay oval 50 miles northwest of Savannah. Hosting the Southern Nationals for the 12th time, Screven — the tour’s southernmost track this season — is among the 15-year-old tour’s most visited speedways.
With two series wins this season, Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., leads the tour to Screven. Overton won at Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tenn., and at Wythe Raceway in Rural Retreat, Va. Trent Ivey of Union, S.C., won at Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C. Five drivers have perfect attendance after three events.
The Super Late Model program includes hot laps, time trials, heat races and the 53-lap, $10,000-to-win main event. Entries will be split into two groups for time trials and then run heat races and a consolation race. Two series provisionals will be added to complete the 22-car starting field.
6:30 p.m. - Draw closes/driver’s meeting
7:30 p.m. - Hot laps/qualifying
- Super street hot laps
- Crate Late Model hot laps
- Stock V-8 hot laps
- Super Late Model hot laps
- 602 Late Model hot laps/qualifying
- Renegade 4 hot laps/qualifying
- Road Warrior hot laps
- Super Late Model time trials (two laps)
- Crate Late Model time trials (two laps)
- Stock V-8 heats (6 laps)
- Super Late Model heats (10 laps)
- Super street heats (6 laps)
- Super Late Model consolation (10 laps)
- Stock V-8 feature (15 laps)
- Super Late Model feature (53 laps)
- 602 Late Model feature (20 laps)
- Crate Late Model feature (20 laps)
- Renegade 4 feature (25 laps)
- Super street feature (15 laps)
- Road Warrior feature (12 laps)