It would seem reasonable to assume that a driver who is transitioning from the Crate Late Model division to Super Late Model cars would need time to adjust and to get used to the various differences between those two types of machines. But this past weekend in the Xtreme DIRTcar Series/Carolina Clash co-sanctioned events held at the Lancaster(SC) Speedway and the Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, SC, young Carson Ferguson dispelled that line of thinking by posting two highly competitive results in his first Super Late Model efforts.
On Saturday night at Lancaster, the 21-year-old driver had a misstep in qualifying which ultimately resulted in a 15th starting position for the feature. Ferguson then charged through the field to eventually finish the 50-lap main event in the fourth spot.
The driver who hails from Lincolnton, North Carolina then entered his Donald Bradsher-owned Longhorn Chassis machine in the historic Blue-Gray 100 at Cherokee on the following afternoon. After finishing third in his heat race, Ferguson rolled off from eighth on the grid when the green flag waved over the 100-lap main event on the 4/10 mile clay oval known for putting drivers, their cars, and the tires on those cars to the test.
After making his way to as far up in the running order as third during the feature, the cousin of Chris Ferguson ended his night in the fourth position.
His first weekend in any sort of Super Late Model competition resulted in two fourth-place finishes. So what has been the biggest adjustment from Crate Late Models to Super Late Models in his brief experience with the more powerful cars?
“I’m really trying to know when to use the power you’ve got,” Ferguson explained in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “At the end of the day in the crate car you’re really going as fast in the corners as you need to go. With the super motor, obviously, you’ve got a lot more power so you’ve got to know how to use it down the straightaways and once you get pointed up off the corner.”
Ferguson claimed a $10,000 American All-Star Series payday at Kentucky’s Mountain Motorsports Park on July 3rd of this year. But he has quickly realized that the same driving style for one may not always work for the other.
“So far with testing and last night(Lancaster), I’ve got to back my corners up a lot more so I’m not overdriving it like you would a crate car,” Ferguson pointed out. “I really just need to back it down and be more cautious with everything. It’s been really fun. In a sense, they’re easier to drive because you have more engine brake and power to get you out of mistakes. But you’re still going a lot faster than you are in a crate car. You just have to learn how to race people and how fast you come up on somebody and how the air will move the car around when you catch another car. Last night I had a great time and learned a lot coming up through the field like we did.”
Even with his limited time behind the wheel of the SLM, Ferguson believes he has an idea for how the car will behave on different types of tracks.
“When the track gets slick in the super stuff you kind of drive it the same as a crate car,” he reasoned. “You have to be easier on the throttle, obviously. When it’s hammer down, you can be more stop-and-go. At least that’s what it feels like, I don’t have much experience. Once the track blew off last night it kind of came to us a little more. Last night, I over drove it in qualifying a little bit and killed both laps and that’s all it took. You can’t make mistakes like that. Hopefully I can minimize those.”
Before making plans for the 2022 season in a Late Model, Ferguson has something else to look forward to. In January, he will make his way to Oklahoma to compete in the 36 annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals event for Midget Sprint Cars held each year in the Tulsa Expo Center.
“The opportunity came to do that and I couldn’t turn it down,” Ferguson said of the Chili Bowl. “I’m looking forward to the end of this year and next year. Things are falling into place right now.”
Ferguson has accomplished much in 2021. Aside from his previously mentioned victory at Mountain Motorsports Park, he collected $5,500 for a Crate Late Model triumph in his home state at Friendship Motor Speedway. He was second in a pair of Crate Racin’ USA events, first to Jimmy Owens in a $26,000-to-win affair at All-Tech Raceway and then to Matt Henderson in a $20,000-to-win race at Cochran Motor Speedway.
He intends to continue racing in the Crate Late Model but hopes there will be more starts ahead in the Super Late Model as well.
“Next year we’ll probably be doing more supers than the crate stuff,” Ferguson said. “We still have the crate car ready and we’ll race it next weekend at Swainsboro and we’ll try to hit some of the Drydene races this winter. We’re not going to run a tour next year. We’re just going to hit and miss like we did in the crate car this year. We’re not rushing anything, we’re trying to race smart. We’re really excited to run supers and we’d love to go race every weekend but I feel like we need to be smart with where we race and not jump in too early.”
All in all, this driver is very happy with how 2021 has gone.
“It’s been our best year so far.”
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