GAFFNEY — Stick Elliott’s famed number 57 race car sat quietly parked outside of Cherokee Speedway’s entrance Saturday afternoon. Later on that evening, another number 57 roared to victory.
Somewhere out there, Stick had to be smiling.
Zack Mitchell, 22, of Cross Anchor dominated the 33rd running of the Stick Elliott Memorial. Mitchell briefly lost the lead to last year’s race winner Ross Bailes (Clover) early in the event but grabbed it right back when Bailes was forced to the pits with a right rear flat tire. The Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series victory earned the 2017 tour champion a $5,000 payday for his efforts.
Finishing second, 1.674 seconds behind, was Dennis “Rambo” Franklin (Gaffney). Rounding out the top five finishers were Joey Coulter (Concord, N.C.), Johnny Pursley (Clover), and Justin Williams (Concord, Va.).
The 40-lap feature was plagued with yellow fever. The caution flag flew numerous times throughout the event.
As the laps clicked by, Mitchell’s competitors began to test out other lines around the racetrack. Pursley and Franklin both made serious runs at Mitchell’s lead utilizing the high lane around the track, but were not able to pull off a pass.
“I felt like the car was really good across the bottom in (turns) one and two,” Mitchell said. “I could tell the high side started coming in so I moved up in three and four. I knew if I just paced myself and hit my marks every lap, it would work out. We had a really good race car tonight.”
LUG NUTS: Mitchell’s Longhorn Chassis is powered by a Clements Racing Engine. ... In time trial qualifying Mitchell turned the fastest lap (15.325 seconds) out of 30 cars. ... The top 10 in qualifying were locked into the feature. The remainder of the field was set by two heat races. Heat race winners were Anthony Sanders (Charlotte, N.C.) and Doug Sanders (Springwood, N.C.). ... Franklin, Casey Roberts (Toccoa, Ga.), and the late Mike Duvall are tied with the most victories (3) in the annual Stick Elliott Memorial. ... Roberts was leading the second heat race, but suffered a mechanical failure and was eliminated from the event. … Ricky Weiss (Headingley, Manitoba) won the 36th annual Sunoco North South 100 Saturday night at Florence (Ky.) Speedway. The $50,000 victory was the Canadian driver’s first crown jewel dirt win.