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Autry questing for repeat Crown, $30K

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Lancaster Super Speedway action

By Michael Knight

 

   

Lancaster Super Speedway is set to host the largest dirt track race in the S.C. history this weekend highlighted by the running of the Carolina Crown.

Dirt track officials expect to see a full house of drivers fans at the half-mile track. The 2012 race drew a packed house of 4,000 fans in the grandstands. Track officials are expecting another record turnout for the stands and pits.

Track action heated up Thursday with open practice for all divisions.

Gates open today at 1 p.m. for a series of heats, qualifying and A mains.

Event promoter Cody Sommer said he took a big risk in bringing the inaugural Carolina Crown to the high-banked, Lancaster Speedway in 2012, but it was a gamble that paid off.

He noted local racing fans and teams had really thrown their support behind the event.

“The track and the fans were everything I was told they would be,” Sommer said. “No, actually it was more than it was billed.”

Sommer said he overheard a recent interview where 2012 Carolina Crown winner Scott Autry described the narrow half-mile, paper clip-shaped track as a place that gets a driver’s attention in a hurry.

Autry is slated to defend his 2012 crown this weekend, with the purse padded to $30,000.

“He (Autry) said he always talks to the man upstairs before he straps in, but after a couple of practice laps at Lancaster, he was talking to the man upstairs a lot more.

“It’s definitely an intimidating place,” Sommer said. “Several of the drivers said afterward, this is a place you can’t cruise around. It’s so fast that some of them felt like every lap was a qualifying run.”  

Sommer said upping the winner’s purse from $20,000 to $30,000 this year grabbed the full attention of regional late model dirt racers and fans alike.

“My goal is to make the Carolina Crown a premier event,” he said. “You do that by creating new and exciting things.” 

In the 2012 race, which was reset due to rain, Autry, of Autryville N.C., took advantage of a leaking right rear tire on the car of Batesville, Ark., campaigner Jared Landers and held off the Clint Bowyer-owned entry and its Roush-Yates horsepower.

A mandatory caution with 10 laps left was part of the race format, and leader Landers realized he had a right rear tire going down under caution on lap 63.

He was flagged in by teammate Jonathan Davenport, giving the lead to Autry, and with help from Bowyer, put two new tires on the rear for a bonzai run back to the front.

The green flag fell and Landers blasted through the cars still on the lead lap in front of him.

He tried in vain to catch and pass Autry, the son of former longtime Fayetteville N.C., speedway track promoters Donald and Shirley Autry, who took the biggest win of his career and the then-record $20,000 cash prize,

The grandstands  open at 4 p.m. each day. Admission to the grandstands is $20 Friday night and $35 for the pits.

Admission to the grandstands is $35 Saturday and $40 for the pits.

Lancaster Super Speedway is located four miles north of Lancaster off U.S. 521. Turn right on Shiloh-Unity Road and follow a short distance to the track on the left. 

The track’s 24-hour hotline for event and weather updates is (803) 285-1877.

Schedule Of Events

Thursday, March 28

Open practice all divisions, not mandatory

Super Lates, Crate Lates, Modifieds, Super Street, Crate Sportsman, Pure Street and Extreme 4

5–7 p.m. – Gates open and hauler parking

7-10 p.m. – Rotating practice all divisions

Friday, March 29

Qualifying heats Super Lates, full program for LM Crates, Pure Street and Extreme 4

1 p.m. – Pit gates open

2-5 p.m. – Technical inspection Supers

6 p.m. – Drivers meeting all divisions

6:30 p.m. – Hot laps for LM Crate, Pure Street, Extreme 4, Supers

7 p.m. – Qualifying LM Crates, Supers

8 p.m. – Heats Pure Street, Extreme 4, LM Crates, Super Lates

9 p.m. – A mains, $2,000 two win LM Crates, $500 to win Pure Street, $300 to win Extreme 4

Saturday, March 30

$30,000 to Super Lates B mains, Fast dash, full program Modifieds, Super Street, Crate Sportsman

1 p.m. – Pit gates open

6 p.m. – Drivers meeting all divisions

6:30 p.m. – Hot laps Modifieds, Super Street, Crate Sportsman, Supers

7 p.m. – Heat races, Modifieds, Super Street, Crate Sportsman

8 p.m. – Fast dash, first 3 rows set for main event

8:30 p.m. – B mains Super Lates

9 p.m. – A mains  Southern Open Wheel Modifieds, $800 to win Super Street, $500 to win Crate Sportsman, $30,000 to win Super Late Models (60 laps)

Schedule is tentative and subject to change

 

u Editor’s note: Copy editor Greg Summers contributed to this story