Chris Ferguson is coming off of the most successful Dirt Late Model racing season of his career. In 2022, he won the $50,000 Show-me 100 at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, MO and another $50,000 in an XR Super Series feature at the Bristol Motor Speedway. A $12,000 victory on the preliminary night for the Eldora Million also fell to the Mt. Holly, NC driver last year.
In his first start of the 2023 season in his own car(he drove one race in another ride), Ferguson tallied a victory in the Southern All-Stars Series-sanctioned March Madness event at Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, SC to collect a $20,000 paycheck.
One thing, however, has changed since last season. While Ferguson still has one of the Team Zero Race Cars with which he had so much success, he has added a new Longhorn Chassis to his stable. It was with the new car that he won at Cherokee.
In an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com, the 33-year-old driver explained the reasons for bringing in a new machine and his plans for the older car. He pointed to the fact that Scott Bloomquist, founder of Team Zero, does not race as often as he used to due to injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident in 2019 as a reason for the incorporation of the Longhorn. Also the proximity of the Longhorn facility to his own shop contributed.
“We’re familiar with the cars and that’s the good thing about it,” Ferguson said. “We had a lot of success in them back in 2015 and 2016. Cars have changed a pretty good bit since then but the big thing is they are 30 minutes up the road from me. I love the Team Zero cars. I’m really hoping that Scott makes out good, but with me being so close to Longhorn, it just made sense to try it. We actually have a sponsor, one of my main sponsors. that’s off the same exit as Longhorn, both off exit 68.”
But that doesn’t mean he will not race a Team Zero car again, particularly at a track where he has had a great deal of success.
“There were a lot of people wanting to see us do this so we decided to give it a go,” Ferguson pointed out. “I still have one of my Team Zero cars which I plan on running, it’s going to be hard for me to not run that car at Wheatland. I think our worst finish there was fourth in the Show-me, and a third. We also won the Diamond Nationals. It’s going to be hard at a lot of places that we know we can run good and win but we’re going to give this one a go and see how we like it and kind of decide from there.”
A number of highly successful drivers use the Longhorn Chassis including Tim McCreadie, Jonathan Davenport, and even NASCAR star Kyle Larson, which might lead observers to believe that each might be using the same setups. But Ferguson points out that such is not necessarily the case which means it’s largely up to each team to ready their own ride.
He says that when he was exclusively driving Team Zero cars that he had a small circle that included brothers Shane and Dale McDowell along with Bloomquist who he shared information with on a regular basis.
“A lot of people don’t realize this but, and this is my opinion and a lot of people don’t like to hear this, but at this level we’re racing against the best so you don’t really depend on other people,” Ferguson declared. “It is nice to have other people to bounce ideas off of, but truthfully, I worked with Dale, Shane and Scott and even in these cars I don’t plan on working with more than one or two other people.”
There are advantages to driving a more prevalent brand of chassis.
“It is cool though to have so many cars here that have bumpers, and deck bars, and everything you can think of and have an abundance of it,” he explained. “That’s one of the perks to more people being in them, but as far as working with other people or having people to bounce ideas off of, we still work with Shane McDowell and Scott’s more than welcome to ask me any question any day of the week because of everything they’ve done for me.”
Besides close proximity, another reason to choose Longhorn came from within his own family.
My cousin, Carson(Ferguson), is in a Longhorn and he’s pretty sharp in them and there’s a couple of other guys that I’ve raced with for a long time that we could go ask if we’re out in left field,” Ferguson stated. “But most of the time at this level, if you’re struggling there’s only one place to look and that’s in the mirror. For us it’s going to be a learning curve in these cars, but truthfully, I have every intention of trying to be competitive right off the bat.”
Ferguson has helped to put another well known driver in one of his Team Zero Race Cars recently. Multi-time DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion Brian Shirley raced in several events during Georgia-Florida SpeedWeeks in that car along with his more familiar Rocket Chassis,
“Brian actually owns that car,” Ferguson said. “They bought it after SpeedWeeks. The intentions the whole time were for him to test the car out, we worked with them and helped them out. Long story short, he came out of SpeedWeeks running second in the World of Outlaws points. That car won a lot of races, it won Bristol twice, it won the Show-me 100. I think Brian may be sticking with the Rocket stuff which is pretty normal but it’s going to be hard for him not to unload that car when he pulls up at Eldora or somewhere like Wheatland where it’s had a lot of success. It’s a cool scenario, we like Brian a lot and he’s guy who we help out and he helps us. We actually bought this hauler from him back in 2017 or 18. It will be cool to have another guy who’s capable of winning in those cars.”
Ferguson intends to race this weekend with the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series at Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, TN on Thursday and at Boyd’s Speedway in Ringgold, GA on Friday and Saturday.
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