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Golden Isles Speedway

Virginian determined to rebound from rollover

January 28, 2023, 6:46 am
By Kyle McFadden
DirtonDirt.com staff reporter
Logan Roberson's rollover wreck. (heathlawsonphotos.com)
Logan Roberson's rollover wreck. (heathlawsonphotos.com)

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (Jan. 27) — In a blink of an eye, Logan Roberson went from having a golden opportunity for a front-row starting spot in Friday’s Lucas Oil Late Model Series feature at Golden Isles Speedway to the most painful turn of events at a racetrack he can remember. | Complete Speedweeks coverage

The lead battle in the fourth heat of Friday's Super Bowl of Racing went horribly amiss when Ricky Thornton Jr. executed a go-ahead slide job that inadvertently took the air off the Roberson’s nose at the intersection of disaster with the 25-year-old pointed toward the turn four wall at a high rate of speed.

Roberson’s J.C. and Marsha Clary-owned No. 89 went for a tumble upon impact as the 4/10-mile went quiet. Fortunately, the Waynesboro, Va., driver exited his mangled race car — which landed on four wheels — without serious injury.

Roberson, a longtime Crate Late Model standout moving up in the Super ranks, was understandably rattled by the hard collision and didn’t quite walk away completely unharmed.

“I’m pretty beat up myself,” Roberson said. “I’m walking around fine. I’m a little dizzy, but we’ll get over with it and get this car fixed, get back out there tomorrow.”

Thornton was sorrowful in the aftermath of the accident as he visited Roberson’s trailer to offer an apology and ensure that the reigning RUSH Crate Late Model champion had been OK. Roberson, who has high hopes for himself this year as he integrates himself more into the national Super Late Model scene, said that Thornton “didn’t do anything wrong.”

“There are no hard feelings toward him,” Roberson said. “It was a racing incident. He cleared me. It happened at the wrong part of the track. When somebody slides you, it literally lifts your front end off the ground and there’s nothing you can do. I was pointed toward the wall. I tried hitting the brakes just a tad. It wasn’t enough to stop it, so I throttled back up hoping I can get out of it. It just didn’t work out and I really hate it for our car owners, especially on our second night out being as fast as we was.”

Two nights into his new venture with Brodnax Shaker Motorsports of Brodnax, Va., Roberson’s displayed speed that has him keen on following on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series for not just Georgia-Florida Speedweeks, but for the following weeks and months. Roberson’s tentative agenda, barring any further setbacks, is to stick it out with the tour through May’s Show-Me 100 at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo.

“This is definitely a setback, but that’s still the plan,” Roberson said. “Hopefully we can just rebound from this (Saturday) night and try to forget about it.”

Somehow, the team’s MasterSbilt Race Car from Friday’s mishap is salvageable. Depending upon how much progress had been made overnight, it could actually be serviceable for Saturday’s 60-lap, $25,000-to-win program. If not, Roberson will have to resort to his lone backup car — his father’s No. 19 Rocket Chassis.

“Oh, yeah, we’ll race it tomorrow. We have a good team,” Roberson said. “They’re going to stay here and try to put it all back together for tomorrow. It didn’t hit on the main cage. If it did and knocked it down any, we would definitely park it. Really, just the left side wheel and right-front took most of the impact. None of the cage got hit and none of the frame is bent. We’ll replace all them bolts and parts, get some measurements, and get it back square. Hopefully it’s still as good.

“I don’t think it got the frame. And if it did, we have some tools here to get it back in place and fix it. We’ll get it back in line and hopefully it’ll be just as fast as these last two nights.”

By virtue of a provisional for his fourth-place qualifying run in the second flight of time trials, Roberson was able to log 29 laps in a 24th-place finish in his father’s race car on Friday. In Thursday’s 40-lap feature, Roberson started 14th and finished 18th.

The feature results aren’t indicative of the Roberson’s potential. For starters, Roberson is one of six drivers to have qualified inside the top four of their respective groups on each of the two opening nights. The remaining drivers to join Roberson in achieving that are bona fide stars: Brandon Overton, Devin Moran, Hudson O’Neal, Jonathan Davenport and Ricky Thornton Jr.

On Thursday, Roberson beat out four-time Lucas Oil Series champion Earl Pearson Jr. for the final transfer spot in the fourth heat — finishing behind Moran and Ryan Gustin — before going into his heat on Friday with a legitimate shot to win.

“We threw some stuff at it and we were definitely better (Friday) than we was last night,” Roberson said. “I think we’re just making gains on it. It’s a good car, a good piece. We have a good crew behind it. I think it’s going to be a good program.”

Roberson led the first four laps of his heat on Friday when disaster struck on the fifth circuit.

“I don’t wish that on nobody. That really hurt,” he said. "It opens your eyes of people talking about, oh, they don’t have money to re-certify their HANS (neck support device) or seatbelts or gloves — any of that stuff. It opens my eyes why you need that stuff and why you have to have it. You have to have the safety equipment. I’ve always been the one that if my gloves had tears in it — holes in it — or if my neck brace wasn’t certified, it would be OK. After tonight, it definitely opened my eyes.”

Roberson still has hopes of achieving his goals this Speedweeks: win a heat race and post a top-10 finish. Even if Roberson would have held on to finish second in Friday's heat, he'd have started eighth and been in prime position for a solid feature finish.

“We were so close to one of them,” Roberson said. "I just feel like we’re really, really close. We’ve showed a lot of speed. Man, that thing was so good for so long. I thought I was going to hang on. It sucks.”

Roberson, who captured his first Super Late Model victory in his own equipment in 2020 at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va., is with a capable team.

“They spend a good bit of money and make sure we have all the right equipment to do this,” Roberson said. “They definitely don’t … I don’t know how I should say this other than they don’t cut any corners. They give me what I need I feel like to succeed. They’ve always had pretty good people in their stuff. It just puts a little bit of pressure on me because I have to do good.”

Luke Eller and Mark Eller also have a large hand in backing Roberson and the Clary-owned team as they supply the team’s race cars through their MasterSbilt by Eller manufacturing line. It’s a full circle moment for Roberson, who started his racing career aboard a MasterSbilt more than a decade ago.

Since then, Roberson has predominately raced Rocket Chassis — the manufacturer he won the 2021 American All-Star Series title with. Roberson additionally won track titles at Potomac Speedway in Budds Creek, Md. and Winchester (Va.) Speedway with his initial MasterSbilt. Now, his family-owned Crate program utilizes CVR Race Cars while he gets reacquainted with the MasterSbilt brand.

Among 16 teams declaring a commitment to the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, Roberson sits 13th in points through two events. He’s rather sore following Friday’s collision, but that’s nothing ibuprofen can’t help relieve.

“Oh yeah, we’re loaded up on them right now,” Roberson said. “We’ll start out fresh. I ain’t feeling it right now, but I’m sure I’ll feel it in the morning.”

“It opens my eyes why you need that stuff and why you have to have it. You have to have the safety equipment. I’ve always been the one that if my gloves had tears in it — holes in it — or if my neck brace wasn’t certified, it would be OK. After tonight, it definitely opened my eyes.”

— Logan Roberson, discussing the safety equipment that protected him in rollover wreck

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