The Southern All Star Dirt Racing Series headed for Cherokee Speedway on Sunday to contest a $12,000-to-win show that saw Jonathan Davenport come away from the Gaffney, SC track as the big winner. The driver known as Superman had to survive numerous late race restarts as several competitors suffered flat tires late in the going.
Jonathan Davenport led the way in Group A qualifying and overall as he toured the 4/10 mile clay oval in 15.922 seconds to beat out Jimmy Owens, Benji Hicks and Zack Mitchell.
Ross Bailes proved to be the fastest in Group B time-trials with a lap of 16.088 seconds to better the efforts of Chris Madden, Michael Brown and Dennis Franklin.
Jonathan Davenport earned the pole for the feature when he won the first heat race of the afternoon ahead of Trent Ivey, Billy Franklin and Anthony Sanders while Jimmy Owens took the second heat over David Breazeale, Dustin Mitchell and Zack Mitchell.
Ross Bailes would start the feature from the outside of the front by virtue of his win in the third preliminary over Michael Brown, Justin Hudspeth and Walker Arthur just before Dennis Franklin won the fourth and final heat ahead of Chris Madden, Michael Page and Chris Ferguson.
Donald Bradsher won the lone B-main.
At the start of the 50-lap feature Davenport and Bailes ran two laps side-by-side as if they were conducting high speed pace laps until Davenport finally emerged with the lead as Bailes, Owens, Dennis Franklin and Ivey trailed.
Davenport pulled out a lead of several car lengths as Owens closed in on the rear of Bailes to contest second. Further back, Brown challenged Ivey for fifth and eventually took the spot. By lap 10 it would be Brown taking on Franklin in a battle for the fourth position as Ivey looked on from just behind.
Meanwhile, at the front of the field the top-3 of Davenport, Bailes and Owens ran in tight formation as they worked their way through some very heavy traffic. Owens used the slower cars to his advantage and got by Bailes to claim second on lap 21. The No. 20 then sought out Davenport and began applying pressure as they contested the lead as the race neared the halfway mark.
The race’s first yellow flag flew on lap 31 when Riley Hickman slowed with a flat tire. On the restart, Bailes moved back around Owens to wrest second away while Madden moved up to the sixth position.
Another caution on lap 34 set up one of the event’s bigger moments when on the restart multiple cars tangle in turn three. Ivey, Zack Mitchell and Dennis Franklin were among those to receive damage from the incident.
On the second lap 34 restart Owens reclaimed second from Bailes while Michael Page made his way into the top-5 and challenged Bailes for third place. The top-5 of Davenport, Owens, Bailes, Page and Brown ran in a tight five car train as slower traffic again became a factor.
Three cautions for flat tires would slow the action over the course of the final eight laps but Davenport would hold off his pursuers and drive under the checkered flag as the winner.
Feature Finish: 1. Jonathan Davenport, 2. Ross Bailes, 3. Jimmy Owens, 4. Michael Page, 5. David Breazeale, 6. Dustin Mitchell, 7. Chris Madden, 8. Brandon Overton, 9. Riley Hickman, 10. Zach Leonhardi, 11. Zack Mitchell, 12. Anthony Sanders, 13. Chris Ferguson, 14. Justin Hudspeth, 15. Jay Scott, 16. Billy Franklin, 17. Michael Brown, 18. Donald Bradsher, 19. Tyler Breuning, 20. Andrew Littleton, 21. Dennis Franklin, 22. Trent Ivey, 23. Mark Dodson, 24. Walker Arthur