The FUEL Racing Series opened its fifth season at South Carolina’s Cherokee Speedway on Saturday night. Twenty-six cars turned out to try to make the 22-car field for the 30-lap feature. In the early hours of Sunday morning it was Ben Watkins scoring his second career FUEL victory in dominating fashion.
Waktins won his heat race, leading to the pole position for the feature. When the feature began, he proved that he was the driver to beat by quickly driving away from the field behind him.
Watkins faced multiple restarts, but each time the green flag waved he was quickly able to drive away in his No. 16 machine.
“Today was really good,” Watkins said in victory lane. “These are the days that you just take them when you can. We needed today. The track was good. I knew with some of the guys behind me that I didn’t need to slip an inch because they were going to be there.”
Watkins didn’t slip once and was able to hold off Steve Banal and Adam Yarbrough who waged a race-long battle for the runner-up position.
Robbie Emory and Derrick Ramey completed the top five.
A scary moment occurred on Lap 21 of the feature when Brian Ledbetter crashed hard into the inside catch-fencing on the frontstretch. According to officials, Ledbetter’s No. 01 machine road along the inside wall before clipping the fencing with the front of his race car. Ledbetter’s car rolled over onto its roof as a result of the contact with the fence. The impact also ripped a large hole in the fencing.
Two spectators were transported out of the facility via ambulance with non-life threatening injuries according to Cherokee Speedway officials. Officials said the two individuals were hit with debris from Ledbetter’s race car when it hit the fence. One of the individuals involved is a crew member for driver Mark Dysart who finished 10th.
Speed51.com will have more on that story as updates are made available.
The next FUEL Racing Series event will be held on April 21st at Fayetteville Motor Speedway in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Associate Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
FUEL Racing Series Unofficial Results
Cherokee Speedway (SC) - April 14, 2018