Landers ends skid with $10,000 Cherokee win
By Joshua JoinerDirtonDirt.com staff writer
GAFFNEY, S.C. (March 3) — Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark., powered from fourth to first on the opening lap of Sunday’s March Madness XI main event at Cherokee Speedway and led every circuit on his way to earning $10,000 for his second consecutive victory in the 4/10-mile oval’s early-season special event. | Slideshow | Video
Polesitter Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., challenged Landers a few times in traffic throughout the 60-lap Southern All Stars Series event, but the race was effectively over when Landers completed his opening-lap power move around the outside of Francis and fellow front-row starter Dennis Franklin of Gaffney, S.C.
“I knew they was gonna fight to get on the bottom,” said Landers, who earned his first-ever victory in a Southern All Stars event. “I knew when I rolled around before the start that there was a gap where you could miss the holes and just drive above them. I figured it was gonna be you finish where you start, so I guess that was the move that won the race.”
Francis settled for second behind his Clint Bowyer Racing teammate, while defending series champion Randy Weaver of Crossville, Tenn., finished third ahead of the AES Racing teammates Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., and Franklin.
The repeat victory was much welcomed by Landers and his team. It not only ended a winless streak dating back to March 30 of 2012, it also help ease the pain of a disappointing Georgia-Florida Speedweeks trip that saw Landers make just four feature lineups in 12 races with just one top-five finish.
“We needed that for the team,” said Landers, whose most recent victory came just a couple weeks after his 2012 March Madness victory during Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series action at Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas. “We worked our but off at Florida and they’ve stuck with it and they never give up. Barry and the guys at the shop give me a heck of a race car.”
Francis, who joined Landers at Clint Bowyer Racing over offseason, knew his teammate had likely made the winning move with his first lap charge.
“The motor just coughed a little on that start and we couldn’t get going. Jared won the race when he made that move through one and two,” Francis said. “But it was all-and-all not a bad night. We were gonna run second and follow Jared around there. If he did mess up we were gonna be there, but we weren’t gonna do anything dumb to jeopardize it.”
Weaver claimed his second third-place finish in less than 24 hours after also finishing third in Saturday night’s Bama Bash main event at Green Valley Speedway in Glencoe, Ala.
“This is our first weekend racing this year, and we got two thirds,” said Weaver, who won six Southern All Stars events in 2012 on his way to the series title. “Anytime you can come over here and run with these guys it lets you know how to gauge your race team. Hopefully we can maybe move up a couple positions next time.”
Notes: Landers’ Barry Wright Race Car is sponsored by PEAK Motor Oil, Crawford Supply, Mark Martin Chevrolet, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants and Georgia Boot. ... Fast qualifier Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., advanced from seventh to third midway through the race but fell out with issues on the right-rear corner of his race car. ... Consolation races were scratched. ... The afternoon event offered bonus points for Carolina Clash Series drivers. ... The Southern All Stars return to action March 9 with the $10,000-to-win Shamrock 50 at Cleveland (Tenn.) Speedway.
March Madness XI: (1) Jared Landers, (2) Steve Francis, (3) Randy Weaver, (4) Jonathan Davenport, (5) Dennis Franklin, (6) Johnny Pursley, (7) John Pursley, (8) Zack Mitchell, (9) Riley Hickman, (10) Ross Bailes, (11) Mark Rosner, (12) Jason Hiett, (13) Brett Holmes, (14) Dale Hammond, (15) John Garvin Jr., (16) Mike Gault, (17) Casey Roberts, (18) Doug Sanders, (19) Mike Weeks, (20) Dustin Mitchell, (21) Wayne Hughes, (22) Kevin Wilson, (23) Michael Marlowe, (24) Chris Madden, (25) Ricky Weeks. Fast qualifier (among 29 cars): Roberts, 15.288 seconds. Heat race winners: Francis, Franklin, Weaver.