The Southern Dream Turkey 100 Makes History at Swainsboro Raceway!
By: Candy Carroll
Swainsboro Raceway kicked off Thanksgiving Dixie Style with the best dirt track racing facility in the South. Thursday night over 100 cars packed the house for practice and testing all trying to snatch that Southern Dream as the 2015 racing season comes to an end. Sixty-four Zaxby’s Crate Late Model drivers from all over the United States signed up to compete for the $20,000 payday.
Friday night, fans enjoyed the largest showdown in Georgia as drivers qualified and competed in heat races to lock in a position in the top 16. Ross Bailes earned GRW Competition Racing Engines $400 fastest qualifying award at 14.469 seconds to set the field for 8 heat races locking in the top two for Saturday nights feature event. The remaining forty-eight cars would return Saturday to compete in 4 consolation races taking the top two from each. All other divisions also competed in heat races to set their starting positions for Saturday. Friday night ended with a 10 lap dash for cash sponsored by Powell Construction and Hobbs Trucking, Clearing, & Grading paying a total $1000 extra. The eight drivers that won Zaxby’s Crate Late Model heat races drew numbers for starting positions in the Dash for Cash. Jimmy Sharpe, Jr swept the field taking home the extra cash.
Saturday night fans packed the grandstands for a night full of sheet metal, red clay slinging action. In the Sunoco Super Street division, Andy Stewart and Nick Kennedy both won heat races to lead the field of 20 cars to green. Andy Stewart quickly jumped out front over Kennedy in second. Starting 9th Tommy Clinard started moving his way toward the top five within three laps. After a caution on lap four, Stewart walks away from Kennedy and Clinard gains two positions to move into fourth. Clinard then began working on Bobby Morris in the third position as Stewart and Kennedy held a healthy lead. At the halfway point, Clinard spun sending him to restart in the rear. Seven laps to go, Brent Herndon began working the bumper of Morris for third. Andy Stewart takes the white flag with Kennedy less than a car length behind. Andy Stewart sweeps the race taking home the first wood carved Turkey Trophy of the night, Nick Kennedy earns a close second, Bobby Morris held on to third, Brent Herndon fourth, and Barry Cates rounded out the top five.
In the Roger Wheeler Road Warrior division, Alf Wimberly and Seth Clark earned heat race wins on Friday night. Lap one, side by side Wimberly and Clark battle for the lead with Tyler Holt on their bumper. Alf Wimberly moves out front with Clark knocking at his door. Half way, Robbie Bland starts to move in on Rod Morris for a top five position. Alf Wimberly took the checkered less than half second over Seth Clark in second, Tyler Holt third, Tommy Hadden fourth, and Robbie Bland fifth.
Twenty seven Zaxby’s Crate Late Model drivers treated fans to a four-wide salute before setting the pace for 100 laps on intense horsepower. Ross Bailes and 2015 Lucas Oil Champion Jonathan Davenport started outside. Jonathan Davenport jumped to the lead on the start and never looked back. Local driver Jimmy Sharpe Jr. started working on Ross Bailes in the second position. Chip Brindle put the heat to Brandon Overton working for fourth. Lap three, Sharpe over drives in the corner and spins losing the third position. With the dixie double file restart, Brandon Overton gets by Bailes in half lap. Bob Robertson started gaining on Brindle putting up a battle for fourth. Lap 36, Bailes gained on Overton working several laps on the second position. Just under half way, all eyes focused on hometown favorite Jeremy Faircloth now moving into the top five all the way from 23rd. Jonathan Davenport weaved his way through lapped traffic capturing the Southern Dream Turkey 100 taking home $21000 after grabbing an extra $1000 put forth by Bad Boy Buggies. Ross Bailes slipped by Brandon Overton for second, Dennis Rambo Franklin held off Jeremy Faircloth to finish out the top five.
Up next in the Daniels Chevrolet Pure Stock division pole sitter Justin Hart had a rough night pitting on the start. Brent Herndon moved to inside pole along beside JJ Williams. As the field bunches up in turn one, moving from seventh, Dustin Watkins takes the lead with JJ Williams trailing in second. Watkins and Williams pull away from the field as last place Luke Scott gains on Ricky Strange for third. Five laps to go, Luke Scott takes the lead from Watkins. Luke Scott takes the checkered with Dustin Watkins all over his bumper. JJ Williams goes home with third, Ricky Strange fourth, and John Bratcher fifth.
In the Kwik Shop Mini Stock division, Joey Schoen jumped out front with Shane Strickland in second. Lap two, Scott Hollars moved by Strickland for second. Two laps to go, Strickland makes his way by Hollars. Joey Schoen earned his 8th Turkey 100, Shane Strickland second, Scott Hollars third, Jamie Nickelson fourth, and Norman Chambers fifth.
Ending the action packed night, Justin Stevens took the lead in the SHOTS 440 division with Dustin Watkins in second. Lap two, Andrew Smith moved to third. By halfway, Andrew Smith moved from the rear to take the lead. Andrew Smith took the checkered, Justin Stevens second, Dustin Watkins third, John Whisnant fourth, and Richard Lastinger fifth.