Jeff Smith's departure lifts Roberts at Cherokee
GAFFNEY, S.C. (July 3) — Inheriting the lead when 12th-starting Jeff Smith of Dallas, N.C., broke on the 27th lap, polesitter Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., led the rest of the way at Cherokee Speedway for a $3,000 victory. The two-time and reigning O'Reilly Southern All Star East Series champion, who dropped back to third early in the race, notched his second series victory of the season.
Smith stormed to the front from his sixth-row starting spot to take command before the halfway point of the 40-lapper and build a huge lead before slowing and stopping just past the flagstand. Roberts took over and beat fifth-starting Chris Ferguson of Holly Springs, N.C., to finish line at the 3/8-mile oval. Petey Ivey of Union, S.C., Furman Parton of Union Mills, S.C., and Ross Bailes of Blacksburg, S.C., rounded out the top five.
Hometown driver Dennis "Rambo" Franklin started outside the front row and led early, but a flat tire knocked him out of contention. Jeff Cooke of Spartanburg, S.C., took over from Franklin but after losing the lead to Smith, he faded to finish 10th.
Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., winner of the previous two series events at Cherokee, started third and ran among the leaders before having problems with his car's nosepiece and pulling pitside.
O'Reilly SAS East @ Cherokee: (1) Casey Roberts, (2) Chris Ferguson, (3) Petey Ivey, (4) Furman Parton (5) Ross Bailes, (6) Dean Bowen, (7) Monk Gulledge, (8) Larry Blankenship, (9) Brent Dixon, (10) Jeff Cooke, (11) Zach Cox, (12) Colby Cannon, (13) Jeff Smith, (14) Roger Lankford, (15) Kelly Thacker, (16) Chris Madden, (17) Dennis Franklin, (18) Doug Sanders, (19) Gary Wood, (20) Ricky Weeks, (21) Ronald Blankenship, (22) Benji Cole. Fast qualifier (among 22 cars): Roberts, 15.081 seconds.