From Lonnie Wheatley
WICHITA, Kan. (August 19, 2017) – Charles Davis, Jr., had a plan in place for Saturday night’s Fifth Annual USAC Southwest Sprint Cars “Freedom Tour” finale atop 81 Speedway’s 3/8-mile clay oval.
It wasn’t among the most diabolical plans, yet a worthy one for the driver of the Massey Motorsports No. 50 RSS Industries/Rod End Supply entry from Buckeye, AZ.
“I said that if I won this thing tonight, I was going to park it in the beer garden,” the Chargin’ one quipped prior to the four-race set’s 25-lap finale.
The multi-time Arizona state champ delivered, taking command in the latter stages to snare the $2,250 win in what falls into the classification of an “instant classic”. A $250 bonus from Alternative Pest Management bumped the posted $2,000 winner’s share with another $250 split among runner-up R.J. Johnson and third-place finisher Tye Mihocko.
Davis, Jr., parked his winning mount in the breezeway in front of the “Tie-Rod Bar & Grill” beer garden area and proceeded to deliver victory lane interviews from the perch of the flagstand much to the delight of the crowd.
After accumulating the most points in heat race action, Davis, Jr., gridded the feature field sixth with Yuma’s Mike Martin gunning into the early lead as he looked to chase down a third “Freedom Tour” triumph atop 81 Speedway clay.
Martin soon succumbed to the charges of hometown hero Jeremy Campbell on the high side, with the Michigan native transplanted to Kansas slipping away while Davis, Jr., battled into second and then Dustin Morgan worked his way into third from the ninth starting position.
Davis, Jr., closed the gap on Campbell soon after the midway point and was poised to challenge until slipping off the edge of turn two on the 16th round and losing ten car-lengths. Davis, Jr., scrambled to make up lost ground until a caution flew after 18 laps.
The battle was on, with Campbell slipping off turn two as well on the restart and Morgan charging past both to take command before another caution flew one lap later.
“That caution killed my rhythm,” Campbell said afterward.
Morgan led the way on the restart, but Davis, Jr., made an uncharacteristic move to the low side of the track to edge into the lead with Friday night winner R.J. Johnson entering the lead mix from the tenth starting position.
Morgan pounded the top side too aggressively, going for a wild ride off the top of turn three on the 22nd lap with Campbell sliding into the scene as well.
Davis, Jr. fought off R.J. Johnson over the remaining four laps to become the lone repeat winner of the Fifth Annual “Freedom Tour” after winning Wednesday’s opening leg at Little Rock’s I-30 Speedway.
“I hate the bottom, but I’m glad I found it down there in time,” Davis, Jr., commented after the upper portion of the track slowed in the final rounds. “I was uncomfortable down there, but it worked.”
Johnson settled for runner-up honors while Tye Mihocko made it an Arizona sweep of the podium by capturing third-place. Making her first “Freedom Tour” start of the week, Guthrie, Oklahoma’s Michelle Decker surged as far forward as third in the closing stages before setting for fourth at the stripe with Arizona’s Shon Deskins rounding out the top five.
Martin was sixth with 14th-starter Craig Carroll, Anthony Nicholson, Forrest Sutherland and Ty Hulsey completing the top ten.
Fifth Annual USAC Southwest Freedom Tour Round Four Results
August 19, 2017 – 81 Speedway (Wichita, KS)
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 78-Chris Bonneau (1), 2. 50-Charles Davis, Jr. (6), 3. 16-Mike Martin (3), 4. 93-Dustin Morgan (2), 5. 77m-R.J. Johnson (5), 6. 16x-Anthony Nicholson (7), 7. 24c-Craig Carroll (4).
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 5-Tye Mihocko (1), 2. 85-Forrest Sutherland (2), 3. 7-Shon Deskins (3), 4. 10c-Jeremy Campbell (6), 5. 13-Dennis Gile (7), 6. 7x-Michelle Decker (4), 7. 24h-Ty Hulsey (5).
“A” Feature (25 Laps): 1. 50-Charles Davis, Jr. (6), 2. 77m-R.J. Johnson (10), 3. 5-Tye Mihocko (4), 4. 7x-Michelle Decker (12), 5. 7-Shon Deskins (7), 6. 16-Mike Martin (1), 7. 24c-Craig Carroll (14), 8. 16x-Anthony Nicholson (11), 9. 85-Forrest Sutherland (3), 10. 24h-Ty Hulsey (13), 11. 13-Dennis Gile (8), 12. 78-Chris Bonneau (5), 13. 93-Dustin Morgan (9), 14. 10c-Jeremy Campbell (2).
Lap Leaders: Mike Martin 1-3, Jeremy Campbell 4-18, Dustin Morgan 19, Charles Davis, Jr. 20-25.