'Rambo' Franklin Scores Carolina Clash Opener at Fayetteville Motor Speedway
FAYETTEVILLE, NC (April 12) – If the third time is the charm, then the fourth time is perseverance. The Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series once again battled Mother Nature all day on Saturday but for the first time in 2008 the nine year old series was able to hold their season opener on Saturday night at Fayetteville Motor Speedway.
On a night where few thought the show would go on, the brave soles that filled the grandstands at FMS saw Dennis ‘Rambo’ Franklin pull off an early pass of Ricky Weeks to score the $4,000 win.
Weeks and Franklin brought the 24 car field to the green with Weeks gaining control as they raced into turn one. Franklin stayed glued right to his rear bumper and dove under the veteran from Rutherfordton, NC as the pair exited turn four. The popular driver know as ‘Rambo’ tossed his Barry Wright house car hard into turn one and scooted under Weeks to gain the lead on lap two, as Scott Neighbors, Craig Shuffield and Doug Sanders gave chase.
The man on the move was G.R. Smith. Smith was leading his heat when he had handling problems and spun his mount in turn four. Forced to use a provisional he charged through the field on the outside and by lap 15 had cracked the top ten. Several top contenders including; Jeff Smith, Shawn Beasley, Chris Ferguson, Steve Hendren and defending PBM Performance Parts Rookie of the Year Brent Robinson all lost top ten spots in the first half of the event as they fell to mechanical problems.
During each caution Weeks would pressure Franklin heavily for a couple of laps as the race went back green. One of the major factors of the race was tire selection. With several different competitors being on different compounds the last ten laps of the event was filled with action. as tire strategy began to take center stage. Teams with softer rubber on began to loose traction and the teams that went with a harder compound began to show the muscle. Doug Sanders and Craig Shuffield began to roar to life as they moved past a fading Neighbors. Other drivers including Scott Autry, David Taylor and Chris Blackwell charged into the top ten as the laps wore down.
A caution on lap 37 for Ricky Boahn, who lost a top five run, bunched the field up for a three lap shootout. Franklin was just too strong for Weeks though, as the driver of the En-Compass Solutions/Cherokee Landscaping/Clements Racing Engines/Barry Wright House Car took the checkers four car-lengths over Weeks. Shuffield, Sanders and Neighbors completed the top five. Sixth through tenth went to Deano Long, Blackwell, Taylor, Autry and 24th starting Scott Shirey.
Shirey was the Heintz Brothers Performance Hard Charger of the Race.
Weeks and Franklin took the wins in the Cabinets By Design Fast Dashes.
Roger Lucas and Autry took the Heat wins.
CAROLINA CLASH FINISH: 1. Dennis Franklin 2. Ricky Weeks 3. Craig Shuffield 4. Doug Sanders 5. Scott Neighbors 6. Deano Long 7. Chris Blackwell 8. David Taylor 9. Scott Autry 10. Scott Shirey 11. Ed Gibbons 12. G.R. Smith 13. Ricky Boahn 14. Derrick Francis 15. Roger Lucas 16. Jason Altiers 17. Mike Mason 18. Timmy Blackwell 19. Brent Robinson 20. Steve Hendren 21. Chris Ferguson 22. Craig Miller 23. Anthony Sanders 24. Shawn Beasley 25. Jeff Smith DNS: Tim Allen, Shane Riner, Jordan Bland
The Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series next stop will by April 26th at Travelers Rest Speedway in Travelers Rest, SC.