Pursley Holds Off Roberts to Take Checkered Flag

    Dale Wilkerson                                                 April 2010

            The Southern All Stars East Series kicked off the 2010 season with a 40-lap feature race with a $4,000 prize awaiting the winner.

            In qualifying, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular Austin Dillon put his ECR powered Warrior on the pole. For Dillon, an off week for the truck series gave him the opportunity to sling a little dirt.

Dale and Pole winner Austion Dillon in the Mike Butler Victory lane at Cherokee

            In the first of two heat races, Zack Mitchell was battling for the lead with Brent Dixon and Big John Pursley, when a motor problem forced him to take his Hamrick’s of Gaffney, Marvin Lawson Motorsports car into the pits. Randall Chupp won the second heat.

            After the ‘Four-Wide’ salute to the fans, Austin Dillon and Dennis ‘Rambo’ Franklin led the field to the green flag. Dillon dropped the hammer and quickly jumped to the lead only to see a rash of yellow fever slow the event.

            After a couple of spins, the race was red-flagged due to a grinding crash in turn one. Furman Parton was turned and sent into the inside wall. Ricky Weeks had nowhere to go and he pounded the left rear of Parton’s car. Big John Pursley and Mike Gault were also swept up in the carnage. Parton and Gault both parked their cars due to the damage while Pursley and Weeks made repairs and continued.

            Franklin appeared to be ready to make a run at Dillon when he slowed off turn two. Franklin took his car to the hauler with transmission trouble.

            The second red flag waved just a couple of laps past the restart after Franklin’s problem. Several cars were swept up into a major accident with G R Smith and Brian Ledbetter getting tangled up in turn one.  After heavy impact with the turn one wall, Ledbetter’s car came to rest on Smith’s. The red flag was extended due to a lighting problem, which allowed some of the drivers the chance to get out of their cars for a few minutes.

            On the restart, Dillon powered to the lead with Johnny Pursley and three time series champion Casey Roberts giving chase.

            The race was slowed again by a caution with five laps remaining. Dillon appeared to spin his tires when the green flag waved and Johnny Pursley tagged him in the left rear. Dillon drove though the slide but he entered turn one at such a low angle that his left rear appeared to clip the edge of pit road. Dillon fought to regain control but looped his car in turn two also collecting the car of Jeff Cooke. Dillon was able to drive away from the crash but Cooke drove behind the wall.

            Johnny Pursley inherited the lead and held off Casey Roberts on the final two restarts to snag the win.

            “Dillon spun his tires and I got into him coming off turn four. My guys have worked hard to put a better car under me this spring, and that hard work is paying off,” said Johnny Pursley shortly after he climbed from his car in the Mike Butler Victory Lane.

            For Pursley, this marked his first career win in the series and his Twin Oaks – Pursley Grading Team was very excited.

            The Southern All Stars East Series will return to action next month with a race scheduled for May 15th at the Cherokee Speedway.