Ryan Gifford, RCR development driver, takes his first dirt late model victory at Cherokee Speedway!
19 year old Ryan Gifford of Winchester TN took the victory at Cherokee Speedway during a rain shortened event. It was the first event of this type young Gifford had ever won. “This is exciting” said Gifford after the race. “Cherokee Speedway has a lot of history and I am very proud to win here. The drivers in the FASTRAK series are as good as any in the country and it really is quite an accomplishment to win one of these events. I do want to thank the #90 car of John Llewellyn for driving me clean. He got up beside me several times but left me plenty of room to race. I want to thank my sponsor Shell/Pennzoil and especially Mike Dillon. Richard Childress and our crew chief, Shane McDowell. My car was great tonight and that is a credit to our crew”.
Young Gifford is in the driver development program of Richard Childress Racing located in Welcome NC. The team is owed by Mike Dillon, general manager of RCR. Shane McDowell is crew chief of the operation with his wife Sara running day to day operations for the team.
Qualifying was exciting as every driver made an attempt at the pole position. The fast time of the night was broken again and again as drivers ‘flat footed’ the 4/10s mile track. When everything was all said and done, #8 Ron ‘the bull’ Parker had won his first FASTRAK pole setting a blistering pace of 16:883.
Dennis ‘Rambo’ Franklin won his heat race only to come up a little shy at the scales after the event. This relagated Franklin to the rear of the last chance race. What a race it was.
Franklin started in last place in the last chance race. With eighteen cars in the field, Franklin had to make his way to the top three positions to transfer to the main event. The tough part of it was he only had eight laps to do it in. Franklin started working the high side of the track and as he came under the flag stand, as the eight lap got under way, he had made it to third place. Franklin held on to make his way to the main event. If anyone ever doubted being able to pass in a crate engine late model, Franklin certainly put that issue to rest. He passed fifteen cars in only eight laps.
As the Main event rolled to the front straight, the drivers were introduced to the fans. Six ‘lucky kids’ were picked from the grandstands and were invited to the front straight to do the six car inversion by drawing. Unfortunately the yellow 8 of Ron Parker was sent to the sixth starting spot and the 90 of Llewellyn moved to the pole.
As the drivers rolled off, the 4 wide ‘salute to the fans’ came down the front straight as the fireworks were going off in the background. That has to be one of the best sites in any kind of auto racing.
The start of the event going into turns one and two was fantastic as it was 4 wide through the corner with drivers, 29 Gifford, 90 Llewellyn, 09 Pursley and the 9x of Pursley all side by side making a bid for the first position.
The #29 of Gifford jumped to the lead. On several restarts, the 90 of Llewellyn seemed to take off better and would get on the inside of the 29 coming down the front straight then the 29 would slowly move back in front of him going down the back straight.
Then the rains came. It was very little in the beginning, but then as the race went forward it rained harder and harder. FASTRAK Officials went to the front straight and called the event for safety reasons. “We do not under any circumstances want to see anyone get hurt” said Rick Ellison race director of the series. “We have lost the track and from the radar it looks like it will be a while before this passes through”.
As the teams were waved to come to the pit area, the announcer called all the drivers to the tech tent. A meeting was held by FASTRAK Officials to try and figure out what to do under the circumstances. A vote was taken and the race was called ‘as it stood’ declaring Gifford the winner. FASTRAK officials worked with the Cherokee Speedway staff and the fans were given a discount for the next evenings events at the speedway in an effort to show ‘good faith’ to the fans. “It was a tough call” said Doug Gillenwater, VP of the series. “With fuel prices at $4.00 a gallon and FASTRAK having a show the next night at Antioch Speedway, it really put us in a tough position. We didn’t want our teams to be forced to come back after racing all night and we didn’t want to disappoint our fans either. I hope our fans appreciated the circumstances we were under”.
A decision was made by the FASTRAK office that any fan that holds on to their ticket and brings it to another FASTRAK late model touring event will be given 50% off. “We want our fans to know we appreciate them” said Gillenwater. “They are important to us and hopefully this will show them how much they mean to us”.
#29 Ryan Gifford (Winchester TN)
#90 John Llewellyn (Knoxville TN)
#09 Johnny Pursley (Clover SC)
#87 Ross Bailes (Clover SC)
#8P Ron Parker (Belwood NC)
#F21 Frankie Beard (Hartwell GA)
#T1 Timbo Mangum (Lancaster SC)
#114 Chris Cantrell (Chester SC)
#57 Lee Cooper (Greer SC)
#21 Royce Bray (Hull GA)
#25 Matt Long (Concord NC)
#11 David Smith (Inman SC)
#16 Brandy Baker (Lancaster SC)
#2 Chris Steel (Rock Hill SC)
#999 Travis Blackwell (Lyman SC)
#93 Donald Bradsher (Burlington NC)
#51 Douglas Davis
#C21 Bryan Conner (Martinez GA)
#9X John Pursley (Clover SC)
#F1 Keith Freeman (Commerce GA)
#8 Chris Chandler (Weaverville NC)
#2x Rambo Franklin
#20 Owen Osteen (Woodruff SC)
#0 Alan Walker (Cow Pens SC)
#54B Brandon Umberger (Rural Retreat VA)
Did not start main
#00 Caleb Winwright
#21x Neil Pitts (Valdose NC)
#B00 Josh Henry (Newport TN)
#2B Damion Patton (Morganton NC)
#2T Ty Dillon (Lewisville NC)
#45 Colt Smith (Woodruff SC)
#00 Brett Dysart (Southern Pines NC)
#V75 Erik McKinney (Felton DE)
#46 Will Shuffler (Morganton NC)
#4T4 Travis Leake (Woodruff SC)
#88 Vic Chandler (Weaverville NC)
#9 Luke Laney (Sevierville TN)
#55 Michael Martin (Blacksburg SC)
#17 Josh Harwell (Concord NC)
#3 Scott Tessner (Blacksburg SC)
#17 Frank Hodges (Mountain City TN)
UPCOMING MODERN CHEVROLET FASTRAK late model touring events
April 18-19 Malden Speedway, Malden MO $5000.00 to win!
May 3rd Toccoa Speedway, Toccoa GA $2000 to win!
May 9th Carolina Speedway, Gastonia NC $2000 to win!
Partners of the FASTRAK Racing Series Include: Goodyear Racing, GM Performance Parts, Sunoco Race Fuels, Modern Chevrolet, City Chevrolet, Heintz Performance, Duralite Wheels, Schoenfeld Headers, Mastersbilt Racing Chassis, TNT Racing Chassis, Rocket Racing Chassis,Goliath Racing Chassis, MK-Direct
*THE FASTRAK DIRT LATE MODEL SERIES is based on the GM crate engine program using both the 602 and 604 engine types. All teams utilize Goodyear Racing Tires as the “spec tire” allowing team’s tremendous savings in both engine and tire expense. The National Championship of the FASTRAK RACING SERIES is one of the largest in the United States.
R. Stan Lester
FASTRAK Racing Series
(678) 935-7304 ext 1#