Heading into this weekend’s season opener for the Pro All Stars Series South Tour at Dillon Motor Speedway, it was unclear how many races this season or even if at all defending series champion Tyler Church would be racing. Church only had one way to ensure he would continue racing this year, and that was to win the South Carolina Clash 125. And he did after surviving a late race three-wide restart into turn 1.
While the field for the season opener only had 18 entrants, it was loaded from top to bottom with potential winners as none of the drivers had won this event before. Title favorite Cole Timm won qualifying with a time of 15.865 seconds just ahead of Zane Smith, Church, Jody Measamer, returning to Dillon after his wild flip last year, and Tate Fogleman.
The redraw put Fogleman and part-time standout Roger Lee Newton on the front row, with Super Late Model rookie Nick Robinson, Timm, and Church the remainder of the top five starters.
Fogelman jumped out to an early and commanding lead as the field quickly followed the prerace instructions from the driver’s meeting of using patience. After just a few laps Timm and Church were comfortably in fourth and fifth, while Fogleman was out front ahead of Jimmy Doyle and Measamer.
Measamer started to make his move around halfway by disposing on Doyle for second and applying pressure on leader Fogleman. While this was going on, Church was the fastest car on track and moved to fourth around Timm, and began running the top three drivers down.
Lap 82 as Church was taking third away from Doyle, Measamer was completing the first lead change of the event as he moved around Fogleman. Everyone who was at Dillon Motor Speedway last March remembers Jody Measmer’s wild barrel roll down the frontstretch, and now he was poised for sweet revenge a year later.
Lap 92 and Church easily moves up to second around a fading early race leader Fogleman, while Timm joins the battle up front to make it a four car fight for the win.
With just 25 laps remaining in the race Church made his move for the lead around Measamer off turn 4 and began to check out from the field. However, his lead was evaporated when the first caution of the race flew on lap 107 when Kevin Flores went for a spin on the backstretch.
On the restart Church once more took command and began to quickly pull away from the other competitors. The race saw its second hard crash of the day as Tate Fogleman got a little help from Cole Timm off turn 4 and he hit the inside concrete wall hard. Fogleman climbed out from his car okay, but his chance for his first career PASS win would have to wait for another day. Timm, meanwhile, was penalized to the back for rough driving. Earlier in practice, 2014 PASS Pro Late Model Champion Walker Yates had the throttle hang entering turn 1 in his Super and caused heavy damage to the front end of his car. Yates was okay, but the team was done very early on in the day.
With just 9 laps to go the green flag flew for the final restart and Church spun the tires which allowed Trevor Noles to go underneath and Measamer challenge three-wide on the outside for the lead into turn 1. Church drove it in deep and came out the other side with the lead he would never relinquish.
Tyler Church came across the line after 125 laps to claim his fourth career win and first since Ace Speedway last May and probably just extended his season a little longer.
Said Church in his interview to Race22.com,”There at the end caution after caution, that ain’t what I wanted, but that last one was sketchy. We went off into (turn) 1 in the middle of two cars and we weren’t going to let up until we got back out front.”
For Church the win was even more special after finding out earlier in the day that his father borrowed money against the house to even race this weekend, and it was all Church could do to control the emotions he felt following the win that has extended his 2015 season a little longer.
In the PASS Pro Late Models 14-year old Kodie Conner overcame his own troubles to win his third consecutive race with a late race pass for the lead over rookie 12-year old Chandler Smith. For the second straight year Conner blew up the engine at practice at Dillon. This year the team was able to go back to their Mooresville, NC shop and after staying up most of Friday night they returned to the track with a fresh power plant. Conner only made two laps all day before the race and came from the back of the field to win. Smith was second followed by Wesley Noles, Ryan Krachun, and Logan Jones.
Unofficial Results South Carolina Clash 125
|10||33||Roger Lee Newton||125|