Local Racers having a good start to the season

Several local drivers had hot streaks during the 2008 season, and if the first few races of 2009 are any indication of what this season holds, some of those drivers have continued their strong runs into the 2009 season.

Marty Ward, a five time and defending Greenville-Pickens Speedway track champion, has started the 2009 campaign with three wins. He won the twin bill late model race a couple of weeks ago, and this past Saturday night, he captured another win. 23 late models took the green flag. Ward worked his way to the front and passed Michael Cherry with about 15-laps to go.

Dennis ‘Rambo’ Franklin picked up his third dirt super late model win of the year, last Saturday night, at the Fayetteville Speedway. Franklin took over the lead after Chris Ferguson had a shock absorber break. For Franklin, this was his second win, in just three starts, in the Carolina Clash Series. Five time Carolina Clash Champion Ricky Weeks grabbed the runner up spot.

Last year, Big John Pursley dominated the crate late models at the Cherokee Speedway. Big John won the Big-ten Crate Shootout Series, winning seven of ten events, as well as the Crate points for 2008. Pursley also competed in the super late models last season, finishing second behind Mike Duvall for the track championship.

Pursley staked his claim for both the crate and late model titles for 2009 last Saturday as he won both features. The competition will have to get to work to give Big John a run for the money this season.

The folks at the Travelers Rest Speedway last Saturday witnessed Timmy Smith continue his domination of the Stock-8 class. During the 2008 season, Timmy Smith picked up over 30 wins and his win last weekend gives him two for this season.

The Crate race, Travelers Rest was very competitive with David Smith holding off Zack Mitchell and Lee Cooper for the win.

Josh Burgess was able to hold off a hard charging Wayne Clayton to grab the Renegade win at the Harris Motor Speedway. Burgess was a threat to win every time his was on the track in 2008 and he looks even stronger this year.

The regular weekend shows are always filled with great racing but when the touring series roll in to area tracks, you can fell the intensity level ratchet up.

For folks that love the asphalt tracks, the NASCAR Camping World East Series will be competing in their season opener. This race will be 150 laps of fender to fender short track action.

In 2008, Joey Logano went flag-to-flag for the win in a Joe Gibbs car. Last year Austin Dillon, the grandson of NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, drove a black number three Chevrolet into the lead for many laps. Peyton Sellars was able to get around Dillon and was flagged the winner, but his car failed post race inspection, giving Dillon his first win in the series. Qualifying will begin at 5:00pm with the green flag waving at 8:00pm.

If dirt racing is your favorite, the Cherokee Speedway will be hosting the O’Reilly Southern All Stars East Series this Saturday.

A large field of cars turned out for the first O’Reilly race at Cherokee last month, and the fans enjoyed a great race. Jonathan Davenport picked up the win in that event and he will be looking for another win this Saturday night.

The last east series race was won by Dennis Franklin at the Travelers rest Speedway. Franklin, from Gaffney turned the fastest lap recorded at the Cherokee Speedway, since the reconfiguration, last year. Chris Madden, who spun out while battle with Davenport for the lead last month, will also be looking to get back into the Cherokee Speedway Winner’s Circle.

On Friday, April 17th, the Georgia Asphalt Series will roll into the Anderson Motor Speedway for a 100-lap feature. Last year. Randy Porter captured the win as the field battled for second place behind him. The action will begin around 7:30pm on the 17th on the 3/8-mile paved short track.

And if you want to take in some action on a one mile speedway. Andy Hillenburg and the folks at the Rockingham Raceway have one of the best fan friendly deals ever offered next weekend.

The ARCA Series will be competing in the Carolina 200 on Sunday April 19th. If you purchase a ticket to this event, you will also receive, at no extra charge, a ticket to the UARA Late Model race, which will be ran on Saturday April 18th.

Among the drivers expected in the UARA race is 13-year old Chase Elliott, the son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott. Chase finished third in his first late model race and has competing in the legend cars across the southeast. Other drivers in this series, that may compete at The Rock include Ralph Carnes, Russell Fleeman and 16-year old Drew Brannon.

Brannon, along with his crew chief short track legend Butch Miller, were guest on Droppin’ the Hammer last Saturday. Butch Miller had nothing but praise for his young driver and rightfully so. Brannon picked up his second win of the year last Saturday night. Those two wins, and a second place finish have propelled Brannon into the ASA-South points lead.

Last year in the ARCA race, Joey Logano led most of the race before he had to battle door-to-door with Ken Schrader to lock up the win. With the NASCAR schedule having a night race the day before the Carolina 200, you should see a few teams enter cars, for no other reason than to test race engines. Also, 74-year old James Hylton will also be at The Rock.

And the action only gets better in May. NASCAR will compete at Darlington and the Lowe’s Motor Speedway at Charlotte, along with several more regional touring series visiting area short tracks as well.

Whether you are looking for dirt tracks, kart tracks, drag strips, or speedway action, you should be able to find an event to fill your racing menu over the next few weeks right here in the Carolinas.