As soon as Kennie Compton, Jr. of Bland, VA, Dennis Franklin of Gaffney, SC, and Kyle Pierce of Statesville, NC, each pay their entry fee for the season finale at Carolina Speedway in Gastonia, NC next Saturday night, October 18, 2014, they will become the star players in an epic battle for the 2014 Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series championship. Kennie Compton, Jr. has 1201 points, and will be seeking his first career series championship, which will be a first for any driver from the state of Virginia for the Carolina Clash. The last and only time a non-Carolinian took the Carolina Clash title was in 2003 when retired-Georgia driver Ed Basey was crowned the champion. Since then, and prior to that year, it has belonged to a driver from either North or South Carolina, with Franklin returning representing the Palmetto State as a three-time and defending champion. He is the only driver from South Carolina to hold the title. Franklin trails Compton by only 11 points with 1190, as he enters this most exciting event, which hails as the most competitive event ever to be hosted in the Carolinas.
The second annual “King of the Carolinas” presented by Carolinas First Defense, is marked as one of the most prestigious dirt events in the history of North and South Carolina, featuring events from nine different classifications of dirt racing at the place dubbed as the “Carolinas Action Track.”
Kennie Compton, Jr. knows what he has to do and that is keep the course over what he has accomplished all year – just finish the race. He has finished every race and overcome all sorts of adversity to get him and his KC Transport, Bluefield Food Products machine to the place he is at. Compton’s championship chase efforts began in a most adversarial way, which all kinds of problems when the series’ seven race campaign began back on August 16. Compton had problems with his primary car in preliminaries and had to start at the rear of the field at Lancaster, one of the toughest tracks on tour. He raced his way back to seventh, with Franklin victorious, to set up one of the most competitive seasons in Carolina Clash history. Compton rebounded from Lancaster and survived another near-miss during a heat race at Cherokee, only to “hard-charge” his way to a third-place finish. Compton then backed up that run with four top five finishes to earn the series point lead entering the final two races. Compton has proven that winning, while cherished and important, is not the only way to win a championship. With an 11 point lead, Compton will need to finish at least 10th or better, assuming with Franklin winning the race, in order to secure the title. A Carolina Clash event rewards the winner with 36 points. Should Compton finish 10th, he would get 26 points and win the title by 1 point. Compton has 11 top five finishes in 2014, with three of those being named “Hard Charger of the Race.” Compton has proven to be a “workhorse” this season and can be counted to be in contention at the end of the event. The only mishap in 2014 came in the season opener at Carolina Speedway on March 15, where he finished in the 15th place position. Compton was 4th in the Shrine 100 at Carolina in August.
If the championship were to result in a tie, according to series rules, all ties for point positions are broken by most wins, which Franklin has the most in the series in 2014. Therefore, any tie-breaker is in Franklin’s favor. The only “wild-card” factor is the Safety-Kleen “Hard Charger of the Race” bonus, which is worth 2 points.
Dennis Franklin was the champion in 2010, 2011, and 2013, where each season found him winning the most races, especially in the championship chase of 2013, where he dominated. However, two DNFs at Fayetteville and Wythe Raceway put him in somewhat of a hole. However, Franklin has the most wins of any active driver at Carolina Speedway, with 4 total in 20 events hosted there. So, the odds are in his favor again. Twelve different drivers have won Clash races at Carolina Speedway since 2003. Franklin appeared to be on his way to winning a fourth title, after reeling off three wins (out of a run of four in a row) in the Chase for the Championship campaign, which came off of having won three races during the regular season, including the 42nd Annual Shrine 100 at Carolina Speedway in August. After a second-place finish at Fayetteville, Franklin is ready to give it all he’s got. He leads all active drivers with the most wins in Carolina Clash history, with 38 checkered-flags. With six wins and two other top-five finishes, Franklin continues to show why his M&W Towing, Nichols Plumbing Longhorn is the car to beat at any given event. Franklin pilots a Longhorn chassis powered by Clements Race Engines.
Kyle Pierce will enter the event in the third place position and still has an outside shot at the title, only trailing by 17 points to Compton, and six points back of Franklin. While the chance of winning it all may be only a “chance,” the driver from Statesville, NC and former Ed Gibbons Memorial Sportsmanship Award winner knows that his season has been one to remember. After almost winning at Clary’s Speedway back in September before a late race mishap, Pierce has faithfully been there, along with Compton, Franklin and the rest of the top ten, shooting for the big prize. Pierce finished 5th at Carolina in each of the first two races of the year at Carolina. His best finish of the season was third back in April at Fayetteville, and has five top-five finishes. Kyle Pierce is sponsored by Tilley-Harley Davidson of Statesville and Salisbury, NC, Alarm South, and Village Inn Pizza of Statesville, NC and fields cars maintained by Wolfpack Racing, LLC of Troutman, NC with engines powered by Randy Clary Race Engines.
The rest of the Carolina Clash point standings feature closely contested contests for fourth, fifth, and sixth, along with a close battle between 7th through 10th. Thus, there is a lot on the line when it comes to the outcome of this final event.
Anthony Sanders of Spartanburg, SC, will wrap up a very successful 2014 season with a chance to claim the Renegade Race Fuels Rookie of the Year honors, as he enters Carolina with a 17 point lead over Jonathan Edwards and Kevin Wilson. Sanders has also competed hard to claim the fourth-place position in points, but not without a lot of hard work. Sanders total-lost a car at the 42nd annual Shrine 100, with a catastrophic flip and roll in turn one back in August. With the help of Doug Sanders and a lot of great support, Sanders returned to race the next Saturday night at Lancaster to begin the chase. While the year has been one of ups-and-downs, Sanders knows that all of his hard work will pay off with his name in the Carolina Clash record books with this honor, should he finish 18 points ahead of Edwards in the final event, which equates to 18 spots on the finishing order. Sanders is currently fourth in points, trailing Kyle Pierce by 18 points from third. Anthony Sanders is especially thankful to Doug Sanders and Carl Sherwood of M&W Towing of Columbia, SC for all of their tremendous support to get him through the final events of the 2014 season after his crash in the regular season finale.
Kevin Wilson is fifth in points, trailing Sanders by only 5 points from fourth and also competed in the Renegade Race Fuels Rookie of the Year battle with Jonathan Edwards and Anthony Sanders.
Sixth through tenth place in points feature Johnny Pursley, who recently experienced a most violent crash at Fayetteville on October 4, 2014. Pursley only trails Wilson by 1 point from fifth. Pursley spent most of the year near the top of the points battle, but misfortune at recent events has plagued his run. Pursley does have two runner-up finishes among six top-five runs. Like Pursley, Enoree, SC driver “Kid Quick” Zack Mitchell always runs strong at first, but has experienced mishap after mishap to fall out of points contention and currently is seventh. He leads Lake Wylie, SC rookie Jonathan Edwards, McAdenville, NC veteran Doug Sanders, and veteran driver Scott Shirey, of Swansea, SC. They are each separated for 8th – 10th by only three points.
Thus, the stage is set for what should be a competitive final event of the season, with these championship contenders grouped with the others who will be contending to become the KING OF THE CAROLINAS for the $5,000 to win event, which shares the hallmark with the Friday night portion of the three-day event, which will feature the 4th Annual Bill Hendren Memorial Race for the SECA Crate Late Model sanctioning race.
-Carolina Clash Press Release. Photo Credit: Derek Bobik