- Oct. 9 - Fayetteville Motor Speedway by Sam Holbrooks


Carolina Clash: Mitchell Collects First Clash Victory at Fayetteville

Alex Cummings

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - Oct. 9. Dustin Mitchell earned his first ever Carolina Clash victory Saturday at Fayetteville Motor Speedway. Mitchell's triumph came after losing a near door-to-door finish to Steve Blackburn, only to recover the win when Blackburn's car came up too light at the post-race weigh-in. 

“I couldn’t have asked for a better car” said Mitchell after the race. “It feels awesome to get that first win”. Mitchell is sponsored by Jerry Dickerson, Frank Aver, MP&J Construction, Creech’s DJ, and Dunn Benson. It was a fitting win for Mitchell who’s crew was all wearing pink on Breast Cancer Awareness Night at Fayetteville. Mitchell was able to prevail over 32 of the strongest competitors in the region on this evening.

Chris Meadows was able to motor his way to the pole position in qualifying with a time of 17.445 before leading the field to the green flag, only to slow drastically coming out of turn two with a flat left rear tire. What was looking like a promising night for the young man who traveled all the way from Beckley, W.V. went up in smoke in just two corners.

This gave the lead to Ricky Weeks, with Timmy Blackwell in hot pursuit. Three cautions would slow the field from laps one through six, and on the lap six restart, Chris Ferguson took over the second spot from Blackwell. Ferguson had begun the event in the eighth position and by lap seen, he was already up to second.

On lap eight, current series points leader Dennis Franklin have trouble when his oil pump broke off the back of the motor. Franklin went behind the wall with an 18th place finish on the night.

Lap 13 saw a pass for the record books as Ferguson had finally caught Weeks and made a daring pass coming out of turn four, threading the needle as he split Weeks and a lapped car to take over the lead. That was short-lived, however. As Ferguson hit turn one, the rear end of his Rocket Chassis broke, ending his night in disappoiintment yet again. Also under caution, Brian Ledbetter pitted his heavily smoking #07.

This relinquished the lead back to Weeks, who was pressured yet again by Blackwell. Blackwell was running the extreme bottom of the track and on lap 18, he made the pass for the lead in turn four. Weeks wasn’t to be outdone, and regained the lead with a slide job on the next lap.

On lap 23, the caution flew when Michael Marlowe slowed in turn two, and on the restart, Blackwell’s good luck ran out when he broke heading down the backstretch. Under the caution, Weeks luck would also run out as he also suffered a flat left rear tire.

Yet another leader emerged at that point as Justin Labonte inherited the point, his first time this season leading a lap in a Carolina Clash feature event. By this time, Steve Blackburn was in the second position and pressuring Labonte hard until, on lap 27, Labonte bobbled just enough in turn four to allow Blackburn to pass him on the inside.

The final caution flew on lap 36 when a rear tire on Weeks' mount literally blew apart, causing body damage to his #1 Rocket Chassis. That set up a four lap shootout, with Mitchell hot on Blackburn’s tail. On the restart, Randle Chupp made his way past Mitchell, but Mitchell wasn’t to be outdone. On lap 38, he retook the spot from Chupp and set his sights on Blackburn.

Coming to the checkered flag, Blackburn hit a hole in turn three, causing him to nearly loop his car. This allowed Mitchell to get alongside, and the two would drag race to the finish line, with Blackburn beating out Mitchell by less than a length. During post-race technical inspection, though, Blackburn’s car was deemed light at the scales, relinquishing the win to Mitchell.  Coming home in second was Chupp, followed by Labonte, Sessoms, and Dean Bowen.

With Bowen coming home in the fifth position and Franklin in 18th, the points closed up to a mere 40 point differential between leader Franklin and Bowen. Under the series points system, that’s the difference between first and ninth in a race.

Oct. 9 - Carolina Clash - Fayetteville Motor Speedway
1) Dustin Mitchell, 2) Randle Chupp, 3) Justin Labonte, 4) Jay Sessoms, 5) Dean Bowen, 6) Jeff Smith, 7) David Taylor, 8) Michael Mason, 9) Ricky Weeks, 10) Chuck Smith, 11) Raymond Brown, 12) Walker Arthur, 13) Timmy Blackwell, 14) Michael Marlowe, 15) Chris Ferguson, 16) Jim Rasey, 17) Brian Ledbetter, 18) Dennis Franklin, 19) Craig Shuffield, 20) Donald Bradsher, 21) Travis Hair, 22) Chris Meadows, 23) Steve Blackburn (disqualified)
Fast Time (32 entries): Meadows; Heat winners: Sessoms, Chupp.

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Updated 11/17/10

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