WILLIAMSTON, S.C. — Recap by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Audio by Gray Sutherland — Chris Seelman photo —
Justin Ashley only led one lap of Friday night’s season-opening U.S. Legends Car feature at Anderson Motor Speedway.
The good news for the reigning track champion? It was the final one.
Ashley used an old-fashioned “bump-and-run” pass of New York young gun Eddie Fatscher in turn three on the last lap to power through on the inside lane of the three-eighths mile oval and kick off his title defense in style, scoring his first victory of the season in a photo-finish over the Steven Ross Motorsports driver.
The official margin of victory was 0.059 seconds, and making Ashley’s triumph even more remarkable was the fact that he started last in a deep 23-car field after failing to post a qualifying time in his No. 21X Farbo Motorsports entry.
“I wasn’t going to race,” admitted Ashley, who is classified in the premier Pro division of Legends car racing. “I was helping work on four cars down in the pit area tonight, but my guys at Farbo Motorsports and (team owner Ryan Farbo) talked me into giving it a show. They said, ‘We bet you can’t come from the back without having qualified it,’ and I said, ‘How much you want to put on it?'”
“We had a good battle with (Eddie) on that last lap there; it was a lot of fun. Me and (team owner Ryan) Farbo work on these cars in the shop … probably 50 hours a week, and we bring them to the track on Fridays and it all pays off. Glad to be back here.”
Fatscher laid down a time of 16.940 seconds in qualifying to garner the pole for the 20-lap A-main and streaked away from fellow teenager Jacob Heafner in the early stages of the race, running out to a 10 car length advantage by the time the first caution flew on lap nine for a spin by Sebastian Arias in turn three.
The leader would be undeterred, however; with Fatscher again taking control on the restart and extending his lead as Ashley began to roll through the field. By halfway, the 2015 track titlist was inside the top 10 and at the race’s second yellow with six circuits remaining — again for problems befalling Arias — he was fourth and charging hard in search of the victory.
The restart would bring additional chaos, as a pair of yellows at the five to go mark would shuffle the deck even more. A spin in turn three by Christopher Carter would bunch the field and allow Heafner to get a huge restart on the outside against Fatscher, but trouble for Bobby Thompson’s No. 15T machine would not only negate the run — it would send Heafner to the rear and out of contention for the win after race officials deemed he had jumped the restart.
That set up Fatscher out in front with Lee Jordan alongside him and Ashley on his rear bumper when the green flag returned, but the New York driver would nail his marks to get away before the fifth caution on the night flew with just three laps to go — a crash on the frontstretch for Karl Moberg the cause.
Once the field returned to green flag conditions, a chain of events would begin that ultimately led to Ashley’s victory. Going into turn one on lap 18, Ashley squeezed Fatscher down to the inside curb, making contact with the No. 51, getting both drivers loose and allowing Lee Jordan to sneak through past both of them for the lead. What appeared to be a blessing for the No. 81 car though, was not to be, as the yellow flag flew in turn three for a spin by sixth-running Austin Teras and negated Jordan’s move when scoring reverted to the last completed lap.
With Fatscher back out front for a three-lap dash to the checkered flag, Ashley made plans to not make the same mistake twice. He settled in Fatscher’s tire tracks following the final restart of the race and waited patiently until the white flag had flown before making his move for the win on the far end of the track.
A disappointed Fatscher could do little in the final corner to defend against the maneuver, and was understandably disappointed after the race despite being the highest-finishing driver in the Young Lions division.
“Steven Ross Motorsports gave me a really fast car today,” he said. “After we took pole and lead the whole race I thought we were going to come away with a trophy, but I got moved going into turns three and four and it cost me the win. There’s not a whole lot you can do to block the move when you’re leading, and I did all I could. Overall it was a good day for us, and maybe we can come back here some time and get a little redemption.”
Jordan rounded out the overall podium in third, and took the Semi-Pro win. Ashton Higgins (YL) and Jacob Heafner (YL) were the balance of the top five.
Gene Traxler, who came home sixth, took the Masters division trophy as the best of the “40 and up” class.
Audio with race winner Justin Ashley:
RESULTS: U.S. Legends Cars International; Anderson Motor Speedway Opening Night; March 18, 2016
- Justin Ashley
- Eddie Fatscher
- Lee Jordan
- Ashton Higgins
- Jacob Heafner
- Gene Traxler
- Guilio Borlenghi
- Austin Teras
- Hannah Bell
- Dewayne Rumsey
- Erika Newcome
- Joshua Young
- Don Maness
- James Bailey
- Christopher Carter
- John Zell
- Randy Gunton
- Danny Cisson
- Bobby Thompson
- Karl Moberg
- Sebastian Arias
- Scott Wessel (DNS)
- Travis Kunkle (DNS)
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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