LANCASTER, S.C. — Adding another special event victory to his impressive 2020 campaign, Zack Mitchell of Enoree, S.C., overtook polesitter Brett Hamm of Newberry, S.C., on lap nine of Saturday’s Palmetto State 50 at Lancaster Speedway and rolled to a $10,000 victory in the Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series event. Mitchell took the checkers with a lead of 2.102 seconds in claiming his seventh win of the season.
The victory marked marked Mitchell’s second $10,000 payday of the season after he also earned $10,000 in claiming his first national touring victory during a World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series event at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn., in June. It also came one week after he wrapped up his third straight championship on the Ultimate Southeast Series.
“You always want to end the year on a good note, especially if you win one night and you’re going somewhere the next day,” said Mitchell, who will join the Carolina Clash tour in traveling across the state to Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C., on Sunday for the tour’s season finale during the $10,000-to-win Blue-Gray 100. “That’s always a big plus. Gaffney hasn’t been real good to us in the past, but hopefully we can carry a little momentum in there and get another $10,000.”
Starting alongside Hamm on the front row, Mitchell settled into second on the race’s initial start but quickly went to work looking for a way around the low-running leader. When a run under Hamm exiting turn four on lap eight came up short, Mitchell switched his line down Lancaster’s long front straightaway and sailed around Hamm through turns one and two to take the lead.
Mitchell held command from there, leading the final 41 laps to claim his second Carolina Clash victory of the season and his ninth of his career.
“You gotta run so high on the racetrack to be fast here. It’s really a blast, but it’s nerve-wracking the whole time you’re up there,” Mitchell said of his high-side rally around Hamm. “They put a good race car up under me tonight and everything worked out.”
Hamm’s commitment to the bottom groove early in the race was an effort to save his tire on an abrasive track surface. While it may have cost him the lead, securing the runner-up finish kept him alive in the series points chase as he attempts to overtake seventh-finishing Dennis Franklin of Gaffney, S.C., for the series points lead during Sunday’s finale and claim his second consecutive series title.
“I tried to roll that bottom early because we had some tire issues in the heat race. I was hoping to make it good enough for a while to not have to abuse the tire,” said Hamm, who entered the weekend 44 points behind Franklin in the series standings. “We got this championship deal going. We were far off coming into tonight. We knew we needed to be fast, but a quicktime and a heat race win puts us right there in contention. A win would’ve been nice, but this place is so tough. Just to come home second and get a good finish is really good.”
Both Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., and Chris Ferguson of Gaffney, S.C., spent time in the third spot, but separate problems for both drivers forced them to tail of the field. That handed the third spot to Bailes, who was happy to land on the podium even when he and his team had an off night.
“We just missed it a little bit tonight. Zack and Brett they were better than we were and we lucky to be able to hold on to a third-place finish,” said Bailes, who earlier this month claimed an Ultimate Series victory at Lancaster. “We’re not thrilled about the way we ran tonight, but we still finished third. I guess it’s good that a bad night is still a top three. We were off a little bit and that put us behind, but hopefully we’ll pick it up for tomorrow.”
Overton recovered from his mid-race problems to finish fourth, while Ferguson ended up 10th. Tyler Carpenter of Parkersburg, W.Va., was among the race’s biggest movers, advancing from 15th to finish sixth.