Rambo raids Carolina, wins Dirt Wars opener
GASTONIA, N.C. (Sept. 14) — Outside front-row starter Dennis "Rambo" Franklin of Gaffney, S.C., continued his recent hot streak Friday at Carolina Speedway with a $3,000 victory in the first round of the NDRA Dirt Wars.
Franklin held off a hard-charging Anthony Sanders of Spartanburg, S.C, who advanced from his 10th starting spot to finish second in the 40-lap race. Pole-starting Gib Gibbons of Manning, S.C., was third followed by Jeff Smith of Dallas, N.C., and Ross Bailes of Clover, S.C.
Franklin and Gibbons brought the field to the green with Franklin jumping to the point on the race’s initial start. Carolina Speedway track champion Matt Stover muscled his way past Gibbons in the opening laps to jump into the runner spot.
Stover’s hopes of a victory quickly vanished quickly, however, as the young racer tagged the turn-one wall and spun to a stop, bringing out the first of the race’s seven cautions in the 40-lap affair.
As the field went back green, Sanders began to make some noise. The Gaston County native jumped to the high side of the 4/10-mile oval and began picking off cars one at a time while Franklin stretched his lead.
Another caution slowed the pace and bunched the field when Jonathan Edwards slowed from his top-10 spot to cause a lap-31 caution. Sanders went back to work on the high side clearing Gibbons for second and set his sights on Franklin. The two leaders went to battle with Franklin running the bottom and Sanders using the extreme outside.
As the field took the white flag Sanders made one last attempt for the lead. As the lead duo exited turn four for the final time they made contact with both cars briefly losing control. Franklin was able to beat Sanders to the line by a mere car length.
The second round of Dirt Wars is scheduled for Saturday at Lancaster (S.C.) Motor Speedway.
NDRA Dirt Wars: (1) Dennis Franklin, (2) Anthony Sanders, (3) Gib Gibbons, (4) Jeff Smith, (5) Ross Bailes, (6) Jeff Graves, (7) Matt Long, (8) Kenneth Ramsey, (9) Brandy Baker, (10) Michael Brown, (11) Gary Puckett, (12) Johnathan Edwards, (13) Steve Banal, (14) Donnie Austin, (15) Matt Stover, (16) Timbo Mangum, (17) Greg Barker. Fast qualifier (among 17 cars): Gibbons.