Roberts celebrates title with Stick Elliott repeat
By Gene MurphyDirtonDirt.com correspondent
GAFFNEY, S.C. (Oct. 20) — Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., put an exclamation point on his O'Reilly Southern All Stars East Series championship by winning the 23rd Annual Stick Elliott Memorial at Cherokee Speedway. The low-key Georgia racer celebrated his first touring series title — worth $10,000 — with a $4,000 victory in the season finale.
Roberts, who won the memorial race for the second straight year, inherited the lead on the 34th of 40 laps when race-long leader Chris Madden had a left-rear tire go flat.
"I got to believe that (Madden) was definitely the class of the field," Roberts said. "I believe that we had a second-place car. But he had a little bad luck, so we wound up winning the race."
At the finish line, Roberts had a straightaway advantage over North Carolina's Furman Parton, Doug Sanders and Brian Moody. Moody held off Madden at the line to claim the fourth spot by the nose of his car.
Fast qualifier Randle Chupp of Troutman, N.C., started on the pole, but he spun entering turn one to trigger a pileup that involved half the 20-car field. Jeff Cooke retired because of damage to his car while Dion Deason and Jeff Smith were able to rejoin the field despite heavy damage.
Madden took command when the race finally got rolling with Ricky Weeks in pursuit. But Weeks' night came to an abrupt end on the 16th lap when he hit the turn-one wall.
With Weeks out, Parton moved into the second spot and challenged Madden for the top spot on a couple restarts. Parton nearly lost control of his machine exiting turn four on lap 23, allowing Madden to increase his lead and letting Roberts catch up and challenge for the second spot.
Roberts took the runner-up position after lap-29 restart, putting him in position to take over when Madden's flat tire forced him out. Madden changed his flat and returned to finish fifth.
Roberts had clinched his championship at the previous series event at Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Ga. ... Five drivers bettered the track record, led by Randle Chupp. ... Mike Duvall broke his engine during qualifying. ... Johnny Pursley and Mike Measamer failed to qualify for the feature. ... Monk Gulledge's seventh-place finish earned him the SAS East Rookie of the Year honors, worth $1,000.