February 2010 Dale Wilkerson
A large number of drivers were on hand at the Cherokee Speedway to shake down their cars in preparation for the 2010 racing season.
Drivers from the Young Guns division up to the Super Late Models were on hand to try new set-ups, show off their new paint schemes, scuff new tires, and one group driver was able to leave Gaffney with a little more money in his pocket, along with the honor of being the first race winner of the 2010 season. This group of drivers was greeted by a large group of fans, who were enjoying both the spring-like weather and free admission, for the four hour practice session.
Timmy McAbee, the Director of the Southern All Stars East Division, helped track owner Lennie Buff organize a dash for cash for the drivers in the Pure Stock division.
McAbee and track announcer Kevin Wray collected donated prize money from race fans, track workers, and car owners. "There was such a large group of fans and cars here today, that everyone wanted to see a race. A few of us threw a few bucks in the hat and then the race fans filled the purse," said McAbee.
Thirteen Pure Stock drivers were on hand for practice and eight of those drew for starting spots in the race. The cars were lined up on pit road and rolled off for a 15-lap shootout for a winner take all prize of $270.42.
The fans were not alone in wanting to shake off the winter chill by enjoying a race in the warmth of the 65 degree weather Sunday, the drivers did as well. The drivers charged under Bruce Coyle’s green flag and stacked them three wide in turn one.
James Abernathy grabbed the early lead as Josh Ayers closed in to challenge. This duo swapped the lead a couple of times before Ayers pulled out to a six car length advantage.
As the tires built up pressure, Perry Waters built momentum as he battled door-to-door with Abernathy. Waters made the pass then began to stalk Ayers as the race wound down.
Waters made a bold move on the high side of turn four to pull alongside Ayers. His Monte Carlo and Ayer’s Camaro banged doors tough turn one with Waters getting the lead off turn two and he legged out a five car-length victory. Waters was the 2009 Pure Stock Points Champion and he looks ready to defend his title.
Among the other drivers on hand to make practice laps, none caught the attention of the crowd more than Jeff Cooke. Coming off season ending injuries last November after being struck in the helmet by debris off the track at Charlotte, Cooke was ready to get back behind the wheel of his Hamrick’s of Gaffney – Bloomquist Chassis.
Cooke paced the Super Late Model practice sessions, turning many laps in what could have been called a good rehab session for him as well, as he crawled from his car with a mile wide grin.
This Sunday afternoon, Cherokee Speedway will have a full card of racing. The gates will open at 11:30am with the drivers meeting to begin at 1:00pm. This race will give drivers on last chance for some track time before the weekend of March Madness, which will be a two-day event March 6