The Xtreme DIRTcar Series kicked off its 2021-22 season while at the same time the Carolina Clash Series contested its penultimate event of the 2021 campaign on Saturday night in the Palmetto 50 at the Lancaster Speedway in a co-sanctioned event. At the end of a fast paced night of racing, it was Ross Bailes who took the winner’s trophy away from the South Carolina facility. The Longhorn Chassis driver from Clover, SC earned $10,000 for his efforts in a race shown live by DirtVision.com.
A total of 24 cars were signed in for competition.
Dustin Mitchell led the way in qualifying with a lap of 18.383 seconds around the half-mile clay oval to better Ben Watkins, Chris Ferguson, Brett Hamm, Ross Bailes and Ethan Wilson.
Brett Hamm took the win in the first heat of the evening over Dustin Mitchell, Michael Brown and Carder Miller just before Ross Bailes topped Ben Watkins, Daulton Wilson and Benji Hicks in the second preliminary.
Chris Ferguson was victorious in the third and final heat ahead of Michael Maresca, Ethan Wilson and Anthony Sanders.
The redraw set the first three rows of the feature starting lineup as Brett Hamm, Ross Bailes, Chris Ferguson, Ben Watkins, Dustin Mitchell and Michael Maresca.
At the start of the 50-lap main event it was Bailes who shot to the lead with Hamm, Watkins, Ferguson and Maresca in tow. On the second lap, Watkins moved up to challenge Hamm for second but Hamm was able to hold the spot. Soon after, Bailes began to slip away from his pursuers.
A lap 10 caution for Jacob Houser slowed the action briefly. The restart offered Watkins an opportunity to grab second as Bailes continued to show the way but another yellow flag, this time for the slowing car of Dustin Mitchell, would wave just one lap later.
When green flag action resumed, Maresca took fourth away from Ferguson but Ferguson moved to the inside to retake the position on lap 14. One lap later, Brown closed in and then took fifth away from Maresca.
As the field closed in on the lap 20 mark in the race, Watkins closed on Bailes as the lead duo worked through slower traffic. Those slower cars then allowed Hamm and Ferguson to join the battle for the lead. However, Ferguson pulled off track with mechanical issues at the halfway point.
Watkins moved inside of Bailes as those two drivers wrestled for the lead of the race on lap 26 but Bailes was able to hold the position. Again in traffic, the top-3 of Bailes, Watkins and Hamm ran in very tight formation with 20 laps remaining in the show.
As the laps clicked away, Bailes slowing slipped away from Watkins and Hamm while Brown and Carson Ferguson fought for the fourth and fifth positions further back. But the complexion of the race changed on lap 45 when Hicks slowed with a flat tire to bring out a caution.
Bailes, however, was able to maintain the lead over the closing laps and would eventually sail under the checkered flag for the victory.
It was the third career Xtreme DIRTcar Series feature win for Bailes.
Feature Finish: 1. Ross Bailes, 2. Ben Watkins, 3. Brett Hamm, 4. Carson Ferguson, 5. Michael Brown, 6. Carder Miller, 7. Ethan Wilson, 8. Daulton Wilson, 9. Jeff Smith, 10. Dustin Mitchell, 11. Anthony Sanders, 12. Benji Hicks, 13. Tim Vance, 14. Gary Dillon, 15. Cory Lawler, 16. Mike Huey, 17. Michael Maresca, 18. Chris Ferguson, 19. David Yandle, 20. Chris Blackwell, 21. Jacob Houser, 22. Bryson Harper, 23. Dennis Franklin, 24. Adam Yarbrough