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  • Travis Dockery

Inspiration and Heartbreak at Tri County Racetrack

(Photo by Deango Motorsports Photography) Brianna Dawson hears the cheers from the stands during her post-win interview.

The first win of the night at Tri-County Racetrack on Friday, June 23, came when the sun flooded Brasstown instead of the rain showers in the area. To the surprise of many, the racing event went off without a hitch.

For the first time ever, the Carolina Sprint Car Series visited the quarter-mile clay oval and the winged machines had the crowd hanging on every lap. Thanks to her performances in the two heat races, 14 year old Brianna Lawson found herself bringing the field up to speed as the pole sitter. Lawson got a great jump on the initial start and established a lead by the time the pack made it around to complete lap one.

Behind the teenager, Sean Vardell put on a show as he used the high side to work his way through the field. Vardell and John Frutchey battled wheel-to-wheel for a handful of laps for the second position before Vardell finally laid claim to spot.

Vardell was able to close to within striking distance on Lawson, but the youngster wheeled her No.B5 like a veteran and cruised to win as a large portion of the fans cheered her on. Vardell had to settle for second and Fruthcey finished third.

A pair of friendly foes made up the front row for the King Ford Limited/Crate Late Model feature race. Danny Ledford's 12.964 qualifying time put the No.4 Longhorn chassis on the pole with Jason Deal's No.7 Capital on the outside of the front row. The pair powered through the first set of turns side-by-side on the opening lap before Deal edged ahead and to the lead. Just as Ledford was starting to gain on the leader, his No.4 made hard contact with the turn four wall and ground to a halt, ending the Warne native's night.

Jason Deal and a young fan celebrate in victory lane.

The restart saw Deal pull away from the field, but the battle for second through fifth was crowd-pleasing. Tucker Anderson held the spot momentarily before a pack of hungry drivers attacked. Anderson drifted a little too high on the exit of turn four which opened the low lane for his competitors. Dante Curtis and Jamie Oliver both slid by and went door-to-door into turn win in a drag race for the position. Eventually, the veteran Oliver cleared Curtis to claim the spot, but it was too little, too late as Deal claimed the win and sole possession of the points lead. Oliver was second and Curtis was third.

The starting lineup for the Interstate Welding 602 Late Model A-feature was an even mix of up and comers and seasoned veterans. Noah Wright and Chance Hughes brought the gas-powered choir up to full song with the wave of the green flag. Hughes grabbed the advantage and the lead while Wright fell into the clutches of the pack. Within a handful of laps, fellow young gun and runner-up in points standings, Colton Berrong tail grabbing Hughes. Behind the pair battling for the lead, Seth Speed and Cooper Twiggs were both trying to lay claim to the third position. Side-by-side racing created excitement throughout the entire field.

(Photo by Deango Motorsports Photography) Hayesville Yellow Jacket Chance Hughes leads the pack during the Interstate Welding 602 Late Model A-feature.

Up front, Berrong could work the nose of his No.56 to the inside of Hughes in the turns, but Hughes' No.10 would solidify his position down the straits. Ultimately, the checkered flag flew for the No.10 and his crew could be seen and heard celebrating the teen's first A-feature win. The excitement was soon replaced with heartbreak as a carburetor infraction found in post-race tech inspection disqualified Hughes. What was bad news for one crew was great news for others. With the DQ, Berrong was declared the winner. It was Berrong's second win of the season and coupled with Bobby Elkins' struggles, boosted the driver of the No.56 in the point standings. Seth Speed's solid night got even better as he was awarded second and Cooper Twiggs was awarded third.

Other winners on the night:

602 Late Model B-feature: Mark Ledford

Open Wheel Modifieds: Stevie Clark

Street Stock: Roger Beaver

Front Wheel Drive: Matt Cordin

Crown Vics: Chuck Simms

Tri-County Racetrack will fall silent until the annual Independence Day celebration on Tuesday, July 4. Along with an evening of racing, fans will also be treated to one of the largest fireworks show in the area.

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