Mitchell takes Cherokee, first Carolina Clash win
By Gene MurphyDirtonDirt.com correspondent
GAFFNEY, S.C. (Sept. 1) — On a night set aside to recognize Cherokee Speedway’s greats from the past, a young gun took a big step toward building his own legacy.
Zack Mitchell of Enoree, S.C., broke through for his first career Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series victory Sunday night at Cherokee’s high-banked 4/10-mile oval, earning $4,000 in the seventh annual Hall of Fame race. Mitchell, 17, overtook polesitter Tim Allen of Kannapolis, N.C., late in the 40-lap race to claim the third Super Late Model victory of his career and his first in a touring series event. | Slideshow
“We’ve been so close, numerous times,” Mitchell said. “We would just have stuff happen. It is a huge relief (to win) and it builds our confidence up a little bit. I was just trying to bide my time, not burn up the tires, and see if we could pull off the win.”
Allen settled for the runner-up finish ahead of five-time series champion Ricky Weeks of Rutherfordton, N.C. Johnny Pursley and Ross Bailes, both of Clover, S.C., rounded out the top five finishers in the annual Labor Day weekend special event.
Allen controlled the majority of the race after take the lead at the drop of the green flag, but his handling issues late in the race opened the door for Mitchell to turn his machine to the low side exiting the second corner and take the lead.
“We started out great. We set a great qualifying lap,” Allen said. “Then in the race we started out good in the beginning, but then all the sudden, the car started wanting to step out from under me. I thought we were losing a tire. It just got worse and worse as I went.
“After we pulled in after the race, we discovered the J-bar had come loose and that was what had been killing our sidebite. But we had a great car. I believe if the J-bar had held up we would have been able to hold onto it. But, that is the way it goes. Congratulations to Zack. We will just try it again.”
Series point leader Dennis “Rambo” Franklin of Gaffney, S.C., worked hard in earning his sixth place finishing position. While running in the second position early in the 40-lap feature Franklin’s machine exploded a right rear tire. From that point on, Franklin charged hard to make his way back to the front. In the process, he overcame a couple of more pit stops.
Notes: Mitchell’s car is sponsored by Hamrick’s of Gaffney, Eubanks Oil Company, Clary Hood Inc., and American Racer Tires. … The 2013 inductees into the Cherokee Speedway Hall of Fame were recognized prior to track activity. They are: Red Davis, Ed Gibbons, Ricky McSwain, and Dennis Williams… The program was delayed getting started with two quick rain showers passing over the track about an hour apart earlier in the evening. …The Clash Series next returns to action on Sep. 7th at Friendship Motor Speedway in Elkin, N.C.
Hall of Fame Race: (1) Zack Mitchell, (2) Tim Allen, (3) Ricky Weeks, (4) Johnny Pursley, (5) Ross Bailes, (6) Dennis Franklin, (7) Luke Roffers, (8) Kyle Pierce, (9) Damon Kotke, (10) Anthony Sanders, (11) Mike Gault, (12) Michael Marlowe, (13) Brian Ledbetter, (14) Chris Blackwell, (15) Scott Shirey, (16) Brent Dixon, (17) Gary Mabe, (18) Dale Hammond, (19) John Pursley, (20) Richard Clew. Fast qualifier (among 20 cars): Allen, 15.537 seconds.