Davenport, Roberts win SASE events at Gaffney and Chester

Dale Wilkerson                                                   June 2010

The Southern All Stars East Series held two events last weekend and the racing was as hot as the temperature outside.
The first event was the Grassy Smith Memorial Race held at Cherokee Speedway. Jonathan Davenport put his Barry Wright prepared Baird Transportation machine on the pole with the Starrette Trucking ride of Chris Ferguson alongside.
As the cars formed for the start, Freddie Smith and his son Jeff Smith pulled to the head of the pack to honor their father and grandfather’s memory.
Ferguson’s car had a mechanical failure during the parade laps and he was forced to call it a night without making a green flag lap. The field fired off under the green flag with Davenport grabbing the early lead. Dennis Franklin and Casey Roberts were battling for position when contact was made. Franklin’s car wheel-hopped the left rear of Roberts, Franklin was able to continue while Roberts car rolled to a stop in turn one with suspension damage.
Davenport pulled out to a 20 car length lead to see Johnny Pursley close in and pull beside him coming off turn four. Pursley lost contact with Davenport and then lost the runner up spot to a hard charging Jeff Smith.
Smith closed in on Davenport but could not make up enough ground before the checkered flag waved.
“I made a mistake and the car washed up on me then I saw Johnny on my inside. I just settled down and was able to put some distance between us. A few laps later I could see Jeff getting closer but I was able to work the low grove and maintain the lead. These Hoosier tires, this Barry Wright racecar, and this Clements horsepower was the right combination tonight,” said Jonathan Davenport from Victory Lane.
The series loaded up and headed to Chester for the Robert Pursley Memorial on Saturday night. Casey Roberts showed the grit and determination that has earned him three consecutive Southern All Star East Series Championships. The team loaded their wounded Victory Circle car at Gaffney, drove to Toccoa and thrashed over the back-up car until daylight, then loaded for the trip to Chester.
Roberts responded by claiming the pole position during qualifying. When he dropped the hammer at the green flag, he never looked back as he led the race flag to flag to grab the victory over Davenport.
“That was a huge setback Friday night. The car felt good but after we looked at it, we knew our best option was to head home and get the old car ready,” said Roberts. “We worked the rest of the night after getting home to get the car ready and when we got it on track it felt great. I want to thank my crew and Mr. Cushman for all of their hard work and support”
When asked about the long night for him and his crew Roberts spoke of dealing with adversity. “Yes Friday was a disappointment, and in racing, just like in life, you have a lot of disappointments but it is how you handle those disappointments that makes you a better person. We all jumped in and worked hard to get ready for Chester. We took a hit in the points at Gaffney, but this win takes some of the sting away.”
Several drivers had problems including Chris Madden who had to park after breaking an oil line early in the event.
The Southern All Stars East will return to Gaffney this Saturday for the Independence Shoot-Out. The gates will open at 5:00pm with on-track action scheduled at the conclusion of the 7:00pm drivers meeting.