Winter coats and hot chocolate and a Carolina driver taking the win is what one expects to experience when they head to a race at Dillon Motor Speedway (SC) in February. Instead, a New Hampshire driver rolled into victory lane and his first words when climbing out of his car were, “Man, it’s hot.”
The Pro All Stars Series South Carolina Clash was run on a cloudless Saturday with temperatures in the high 70’s. And instead of a Carolina driver, or even a driver from south of the Mason-Dixon, taking the win, Derek Griffith of Hudson, New Hampshire, scored the win and New England drivers swept all three podium positions.
With a little more than 50 laps to go, the battle was between Christian and Griffith for the lead. Griffith was able to get by after a few laps, but not without some contact first.
“That was a lot of fun,” said a sweaty Griffith on Dillon’s frontstretch. “I had a blast. I knew that if I could get underneath him I’d be able to get by him.”
Griffith was right, as once he got by Christian he was able to pull away. The margin of victory from Griffith to second-place finisher Rowe was 2.889 seconds.
Even though Christian faded back to third, he was far from disappointed in his effort.
“He had the best handling car all day. I knew if he was trying to pass me on the bottom it would be hard, so I was kind of giving him the bottom,” said Christian. “We had no expectations. We time-trialed terrible and drove up through the field. I just can’t believe we’re here. I mean, that’s a five-time national champion in front of me and Griffith is one of the up-and-comers. Just to be on the podium with them is an honor.”
Saturday’s race was the eighth race for Griffith in the last 16 days as Griffith participated in the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway. Griffith scored one podium and two sixth-place finishes during that nine-day event.
After heading back to New Hampshire for a few days and grabbing a different race car, Griffith and his team headed back south to Dillon and were able to turn their fortunes around.
“A bad Speedweeks is still a good Speedweeks because you can get some laps under you,” explained Griffith. “But we kind of had a rough Speedweeks. We had some good finishes but we came out not where I wanted to be. We shot home, got this thing prepared in two days and shot right back down. We actually passed the speedway and saw the billboards on the highway on the way home. It was a great lesson that we learned at Speedweeks, though, and these guys (his crew) are crazy. I can’t believe how hard they work for me.”
PASS South will be back in action on Sunday, March 11th for a 125-lap affair at North Carolina’s Caraway Speedway.
Speed51.com will have more from Saturday’s South Carolina Clash 200, including video interviews and highlights still to come on the Speed51 Video Network.
For an in-depth look at Saturday’s South Carolina Clash 200, check out our Speed Central coverage here.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @Rob Blount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Robbie Burgess
South Carolina Clash 200
Dillon Motor Speedway, Dillon, South Carolina
|3||93||Ray Christian III|
|11||15||Roy Hayes III|
|14||00||Jimmy Renfrew Jr|