It’s typically a given whenever a race is held at the Cherokee Speedway that tires are going to be an issue. That was true during Sunday’s Ginger Owens Memorial March Madness event sanctioned by the Southern All-Stars but there was so much more to it than that.
Race leaders and other front runners had troubles and two of Dirt Late Model racing’s biggest stars found themselves having a disagreement that ultimately turned physical were highlights of the show. But when all the dust had settled, it was Chris Ferguson who claimed the victory on a track that has been both kind and stingy with him throughout his career.
The Longhorn Chassis driver from Mt. Holly, NC earned $20,000 for his efforts in the race held on the Gaffney, SC track.
A total of 29 cars were signed in for competition.
Group A Results- 1. Michael Brown(15.994), 2. Brandon Overton, 3. Chris Ferguson, 4. Chris Madden, 5. Kyle Strickler, 6. Carson Ferguson, 7. John Henderson, 8. Jeff Smith
Group B Results- 1. Mike Marlar(15.703), 2. Zack Mitchell, 3. Dillon Brown, 4. Trent Ivey, 5. Logan Roberson, 6. Jimmy Owens, 7. Austin Kirkpatrick, 8. Cla Knight
Heat 1 Results: 1. Michael Brown, 2. Chris Ferguson, 3. Kyle Strickler, 4. Ethan Dotson
Heat 2 Results: 1. Mike Marlar, 2. Logan Roberson, 3. Austin Kirkpatrick, 4. Dillon Brown
Heat 3 Results: 1. Chris Madden, 2. Brandon Overton, 3. Carson Ferguson, 4. Jeff Smith
Heat 4 Results: 1. Trent Ivey, 2. Zack Mitchell, 3. Cla Knight, 4. Jimmy Owens
Feature Re-cap: At the start of the 50-lap feature Marlar broke out to the early lead with Michael Brown, Madden, Ivey and Ferguson in his tire tracks. The race then quickly settled into a single-file line around the track until Marlar caught up to the tail of the field on lap 8.
The rash of flat tires began early when, on lap 12, John Price slowed on the track to bring out what would be the first of many cautions. Ferguson began to move forward when he took fourth away from Ivey on lap 13. One lap later, Overton made his way into the top-5 when he got around Ivey.
Over the next several laps, Brown kept Marlar in his sights and even challenged for the lead several times by using a slightly higher line through turns one and two the getting a big run down the back straightaway. But the No. 157 was able to hold the top spot for the time being. Madden also closed in on the fight for the lead to make it a three-way battle.
A lap 29 caution for the slowing car of Josh Henry then re-set the field. On that restart, Overton wrested the fourth position away from Ferguson just before a string of yellow flags would be displayed for one after another tire failure.
After multiple attempts to restart the race on lap 35, the cars of Madden and Overton came together causing both to stop on track. After what appeared to be a heated exchange on the front stretch, both drivers steered their damaged cars off the track and into the outside pit area. At that point, both emerged from their cars and engaged in a heated argument that briefly turned physical. Ultimately after several other people interjected themselves, order was restored.
Under that caution, leader Marlar had a tire to go down which caused him to leave the race. Soon after the restart, leader Brown also suffered a flat and had to pit. Those tire issues handed the lead to Chris Ferguson who was being followed by cousin Carson Ferguson.
Carson Ferguson then chased Chris Ferguson around the track until fifth-running Cla Knight brought out a caution on lap 47 with a flat tire. On that restart, a hard crash involving Logan Roberson and Daulton Wilson again caused a yellow flag.
Over the closing laps, Chris Ferguson was able to hold the lead and ultimately sail under the checkered flsg for the win in his first start in a new Longhorn Chassis.
Feature Results: 1. Chris Ferguson, 2. Carson Ferguson, 3. Caleb Gay, 4. Dillon Brown, 5. Ryan Gustin, 6. Kyle Strickler, 7. Logan Roberson, 8. Trent Ivey, 9. Zack Mitchell, 10. John Henderson, 11. Ross Bailes, 12. Michael Brown, 13. Bryson Harper, 14. Billy Franklin, 15. Benji Hicks, 16. Daulton Wilson, 17. Cla Knight, 18. Jimmy Owens, 19. Mike Marlar, 20. Chris Madden, 21. Brandon Overton, 22. Jeff Smith, 23. Ethan Dotson, 24. Josh Henry, 25. Austin Kirkpatrick, 26. John Price, 27. Anthony Sanders, 28. Dennis Franklin
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