After fighting to hold on to a Top 5 finish in the first of two Late Model features at Anderson Motor Speedway on Friday, Weaverville, North Carolina native Ashton Higgins found his way to victory lane by holding off Kenneth Headen in a thrilling finish during the second race of the evening.
Higgins attributed his struggles in the first Late Model feature to his lack of experience in Late Models, as he believed that he was too aggressive during the opening laps, which caused him to fade to fifth place at the end. However, Higgins believes that the mistakes he made in the first race played a huge factor in his victory in the second Late Model feature.
“We’ve been to Myrtle Beach and places like that, but we didn’t really know anything about tires,” Higgins said. “With Legends cars, you are wide open and the tires don’t really get eaten up before the end of the race. I’m starting to get the concept, and we figured out at Anderson that it’s better to just ride and keep the tires under you.”
Higgins began the second Late Model feature on the outside of the second row, as Archie Adams and Nolan Pope led the 10-car field to the green flag. It would only take a few laps for Pope to wrestle the lead away from Adams, as Pope would go on to lead a majority of the laps while Adams was forced to hold off Higgins.
After battling Adams for most of the race, Higgins was able to pass him for second and eventually chased down Pope for the lead with less than 20 laps remaining. Higgins assumed control of the lead as Pope’s car began to fade, but Higgins car began to get free once again with 10 laps to go, which allowed Kenneth Headen to close the gap on him as the laps dwindled away.
Headen got to Higgins’ back bumper on the final lap of the race and pulled alongside the race leader on the backstretch after the two made slight contact in Turn 1. As the leaders approached Turn 3, Higgins backed out of the corner early, which allowed him to get a strong run out of Turn 4, where he barely beat Headen back to the checkered flag in a photo finish.
Higgins’ victory at Anderson continues an eventful season for him, as he recently picked up a victory in the Southeast Super Truck Series at Tri-County Motor Speedway on April 28th. The 2018 season has been a learning curve for Higgins as he transitions over to Late Models and other forms of racing, and he understands that he and his team have several more obstacles to overcome in order to visit victory lane more often.
“We’re learning a lot,” Higgins said. “We’re moving up from Legends cars, and there are still a lot of things that we need to pick up on. It’s all a team effort, and I give the team good feedback and we make adjustments if we need to. There’s still a lot for me to learn, especially about tires, but I think we’ll get to where we need to be. These past two weekends have been a real confidence booster for us, and it’s just going to make us better for next week.”
Higgins plans to compete for the championship in the Southeast Super Trucks Series, where he currently sits fourth in points behind Headen, who is also a regular in the series. Outside of the Southeast Super Trucks Series, Higgins plans to run majority of the remaining Late Model races at Anderson, but also hopes to race at several more tracks along the east coast, including Greenville-Pickens, Myrtle Beach and Kingsport.