Bailes wins Drydene Xtreme DIRTcar Series opener at Lancaster

Ross Bailes held the key to winning Saturday at Lancaster Motor Speedway. Track Position. 

The Clover, SC driver, used his outside pole starting position to drive away from the field, leading every lap to open this season’s Drydene Xtreme DIRTcar Series with a victory. He’ll try to complete the Xtreme weekend sweep on Sunday in the Blue Gray 100 at Cherokee Speedway.

Bailes outdueled pole-sitter Brett Hamm on the first lap using the cushion in Turn 2 to rocket past the Hamm on the backstretch. The clean air proved to be the difference, as Bailes pulled away from his competition on all three restarts during the race.

“It was definitely a key factor, if not the factor,” Bailes said. “Winning that Heat Race got me into that draw, and I guess Ben [Watkins] was as good as I was, maybe a little better in the heat. It’s hard to say if he had been up front or whoever would’ve been up front it would’ve been hard to pass.”

While “The Boss” led the entire Palmetto State 50, he didn’t go unchallenged. Bailes battled lap traffic and a hard-charging Watkins mid-race. That forced him to change his approach toward the end.

“That first time we got in lap traffic, it was really tough,” Bailes said. “There at the end, we got in it, but my crew told me I was starting to pull away a little bit, so I moved to the bottom, and I thought it’d be really hard for them to get around me on the top.”

The win is Bailes’ third Drydene Xtreme DIRTcar Series victory and first Palmetto State 50 triumph.

After getting his best shot at Bailes in lap traffic, fellow South Carolina driver Ben Watkins settled for second. Like Bailes, Watkins knew clean air would play a factor.

“We had a good car and knew clean air was going to be key,” Watkins said. I tried to pounce on him in lap traffic, I just couldn’t pull it all the way off.

“Still, we’re happy, the car is fast, we have something to work forward with, so we’ll take it.”

Brett Hamm crossed the line third after losing second to Watkins on a Lap 10 restart. The Newberry, SC driver stated he was thrilled with a podium finish because of the track’s configuration.

“It’s a good night,” Hamm said. “Anytime you can get out of here with a good finish, you know, as you can see this place, it’s pretty demanding. Just to make it to the end, not having tire problems, not having engine problems, car problems, drivetrain issues is good, so we’ll go on to a different place Sunday and hopefully be pretty good at that.” 

Saturday’s race at Lancaster Motor Speedway is a race Carson Ferguson will never forget. The Charlotte, NC driver scored a fourth-place finish in his first Super Late Model event. The top five is something Ferguson never expected, racing against drivers with national tour wins.

“We came in just wanting to finish with all of the quarter panels straight if we could, or at least on there,” Ferguson said. “We started 15th and just slowly but surely moved our way through the field.”

Lancaster, SC driver Michael Brown rounded out the top five.

Bailes used the key to victory to gain momentum in his Drydene Xtreme DIRTcar Series win. He hopes to keep that momentum rolling as track position could be a factor again Sunday as the tour travels to Cherokee Speedway.

UP NEXT: The Drydene Xtreme DIRTcar Series heads to Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, SC, for the $10,000-to-win Blue Gray 100. 

If you can’t make it to the track, the race will be live on DIRTVision – available either online or through the DIRTVision App.

Feature (50 Laps): 1. 79-Ross Bailes[2]; 2. 16-Ben Watkins[4]; 3. 18-Brett Hamm[1]; 4. 93F-Carson Ferguson[15]; 5. 24D-Michael Brown[7]; 6. 69*-Carder Miller[10]; 7. 18E-Ethan Wilson[9]; 8. 18D-Daulton Wilson[8]; 9. 70-Jeff Smith[22]; 10. 32-Dustin Mitchell[5]; 11. 421-Anthony Sanders[12]; 12. 55-Benji Hicks[11]; 13. 17V-Tim Vance[16]; 14. K7-Gary Dillon[18]; 15. 93-Cory Lawler[21]; 16. 4-Mike Huey[17]; 17. 7MM-Michael Maresca[6]; 18. 01-Chris Ferguson[3]; 19. 03-David Yandle[19]; 20. 6-Chris Blackwell[13]; 21. 10-Jacob Houser[23]; 22. 20H-Bryson Harper[20]; 23. 2-Dennis Franklin[14]; 24. (DNS) 57-Adam Yarbrough

Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 18-Brett Hamm[2]; 2. 32-Dustin Mitchell[1]; 3. 24D-Michael Brown[3]; 4. 69*-Carder Miller[5]; 5. 6-Chris Blackwell[6]; 6. 17V-Tim Vance[8]; 7. 03-David Yandle[7]; 8. 70-Jeff Smith[4]

Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 79-Ross Bailes[2]; 2. 16-Ben Watkins[1]; 3. 18D-Daulton Wilson[4]; 4. 55-Benji Hicks[3]; 5. 2-Dennis Franklin[5]; 6. 4-Mike Huey[6]; 7. 20H-Bryson Harper[7]; 8. 10-Jacob Houser[8]

Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 01-Chris Ferguson[1]; 2. 7MM-Michael Maresca[3]; 3. 18E-Ethan Wilson[2]; 4. 421-Anthony Sanders[4]; 5. 93F-Carson Ferguson[5]; 6. K7-Gary Dillon[6]; 7. 93-Cory Lawler[7]; 8. (DNS) 57-Adam Yarbrough

Qualifying (2 Laps): 1. 32-Dustin Mitchell, 00:18.383[20]; 2. 16-Ben Watkins, 00:18.509[18]; 3. 01-Chris Ferguson, 00:18.522[12]; 4. 18-Brett Hamm, 00:18.619[11]; 5. 79-Ross Bailes, 00:18.739[9]; 6. 18E-Ethan Wilson, 00:18.748[10]; 7. 24D-Michael Brown, 00:18.749[6]; 8. 55-Benji Hicks, 00:18.866[1]; 9. 7MM-Michael Maresca, 00:18.869[3]; 10. 70-Jeff Smith, 00:18.896[23]; 11. 18D-Daulton Wilson, 00:18.998[8]; 12. 421-Anthony Sanders, 00:19.047[19]; 13. 69*-Carder Miller, 00:19.053[5]; 14. 2-Dennis Franklin, 00:19.057[14]; 15. 93F-Carson Ferguson, 00:19.106[13]; 16. 6-Chris Blackwell, 00:19.300[4]; 17. 4-Mike Huey, 00:19.326[15]; 18. K7-Gary Dillon, 00:19.328[16]; 19. 03-David Yandle, 00:19.527[24]; 20. 20H-Bryson Harper, 00:19.640[7]; 21. 93-Cory Lawler, 00:19.746[21]; 22. 17V-Tim Vance, 00:19.867[17]; 23. 10-Jacob Houser, 00:20.128[2]; 24. (DNS) 57-Adam Yarbrough, 00:20.128

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