Chip Brindle holds of Jeff Smith for Ultimate Series Win

Dale Wilkerson                                                    July 2011

The Independence Shootout at Cherokee Speedway was filled with fireworks from the drop of the green flag until the post race aerial fireworks display.
Five divisions of racing filled the card with the main event belonging to the Super Late Models of the Ultimate Series.
Chip Brindle set fast time in qualifying with the top eight cars locked in the spots. The final spots were set in two heat races with Ricky Weeks and Jeff Cooke winning those races respectively.
Ross Bailes, the winner of the 31st Annual Laurens County Shrine race on June 14th, bolted to the lead only to see several early caution flags group the pack on his heels again. Of those early cautions, the most serious occurred in turn one around lap six. Johnny Pursley’s car broke loose and collected the car of Mike Gault. Pursley smacked the wall driver’s side first and Gault’s car came to rest on the hood of Pursley’s. Track workers carefully separated the cars with Gault returning to action but Pursley’s night was over.
Bailes again dropped the hammer on the restart and opened up a big lead and he seemed to have the field covered until smoke erupted from under his hood. His misfortune handed the lead to Dennis ‘Rambo’ Franklin.
Franklin held the top spot for seven laps while Jeff Smith and Chris Ferguson battled for the runner up spot. As the next caution waved for a single car spin, Franklin stopped in turn for to have an Ultimate Series track worker verify what he feared, with that being a flat right rear tire.
Jeff Smith held the lead for the next ten laps and Brindle, who had worked his way back to second place, chipping away at his heals. Ferguson had mechanical problems and eventually parked for the night. Brindle was very strong into turn one, pulling alongside Smith lap after lap, while Smith could use momentum off the high side to maintain his lead into turn three. But Brindle was finally able to get past Smith off turn two and held the lead by a car length entering turn three, and he was not challenged the rest of the night as he scored the win which also propelled him into the Ultimate Series Points lead.

Rambo Franklin gets a new right rear tire during the race                      Dale Wilkerson photo

Behind the Brindle and Smith, Rambo Franklin charged from 14th place after he pitted for the flat tire, to come home in third place. Franklin and race winner Brindle both drive cars built by Barry Wright Race Cars of Cowpens, and Brindle could not wait to call Wright to give him a race report.
“We had a great night. That was some tough racing against Jeff Smith but I think the fans enjoyed it. This Barry Wright race car was great tonight and this a very big win for all of us with Bryson Motorsports and I’m not waiting until morning, I calling Barry to tell him the good news tonight!” said Brindle.
Lee Cooper led flag to flag to pick up the win in the GM Performance Crate Late Models over David Smith. Cooper jumped out front as the field charged into turn one with Smith working his way past Owen Osteen and Adam Yarborough. As Cooper carefully worked his way through lapped traffic, Smith’s Hi-Bridge Automotive car became larger in his rearview mirror.
“Lapped traffic was tough tonight. I didn’t want to make a mistake or get to impatient but when you see David closing in on you the slower cars can really get on your nerves,” said Cooper.
Mitchell Duvall won his heat race and led every lap in the Renegade feature. “This a fun class to race in and I am happy to see it back on the card here at Cherokee,” said 2009 Renegade Points Champion Duvall.
A week ago, Jonathan Surratt rolled his Saturn several times but he and his crew made repairs which resulted in two wins over the weekend including Cleveland County (Friday Night) and Cherokee Speedway Sunday night.
“We worked a lot of hours to get this car back on track and with two wins this weekend, that work has really paid off,” said Surratt.
Brian Mullis scored his fourth win of 2011 as he earned the checkered flag and the trip to the Mike Butler Victory Lane in Crate Sportsman competition. Taylor Puckett kept the pressure on Mullis but could not get around him.
Cherokee Speedway will return to action this Saturday night with a regular weekly card of racing. Gates open at 5:00pm, drivers meeting at 7:00pm with hot laps and racing to follow.