Saturday’s Electric City 150 at Anderson Motor Speedway kicked the 2011 PASS South season off to a great start as it ended with the fans on their feet. Two of the series’ biggest stars crossed the finish line side-by-side after several laps of the hard, beating and banging short track racing series fans have come to know and love.
With two laps remaining in the 150-lap event, 2010 series’ champion Preston Peltier looked to the outside of Jay Fogleman, who went winless in 2010, for the lead. When that approach failed him, Peltier looked to the low line on the next lap as they approached lapped traffic under the white flag. Peltier gave Fogleman a hearty shove into turn one, on the final circuit, and got him loose off of turn four. Peltier turned his #26 under Fogleman’s #4 down the backstretch and gave it one last run. The two went through turns three and four in a side-by-side battle for the trophy that ended with Fogleman across the line first.
“Well you have Preston and he’s just a good racer,” said Fogleman. “He’s raced for a long time, and I knew he was going race me tough and rough me up as much as he could, but he wasn’t going to turn me around. So I just had to hold my track position and make sure I kept the car on the bottom of the racetrack.
“He had a little bit better car than we did,” added Fogleman. “We just got free as the race went on and there was nothing I could do about it. We’re getting the new cars coming along so the next couple of weeks should be really good for us.”
Fogleman, who was the second Fogleman in victory lane on Saturday as his son, Tate, won the Bandolero division feature earlier in the afternoon, knew it would be a challenge of tire management to be successful at the fierce South Carolina short track.
“The restarts probably helped me more than anybody,” said Fogleman. “Because it let me cool my tires to where I could really use the big engine that we run here. I’ve tried the crate motors and I don’t like them, I don’t like the way they drive. It’s just hard for me to pace myself enough to have tires there at the end of the race, but we’re getting better at it and it worked out for us tonight.”
Peltier gave all he had to his battle for the win with Fogleman, but was hindered by a dead battery that encouraged ignition issues and limited his power when trying to make the pass for the lead.
“Our battery was dead,” explained Peltier. “So the ignition was starting to cut out about halfway down the front straightaway, at the start-finish line. You could probably really see when it would cut out and he would get a good run on me, that’s when the ignition was shutting off. I did everything I could to try to beat him in the last two laps and put on a good show for the fans. I think we did that.”
Before making his daring challenge for the lead, Peltier had to first survive a scuffle with previous leader Andy Loden as he and Fogleman made their way by Loden’s #29 for the top-2 spots. The two made contact which sent Loden into another car and ended with Loden spinning and bringing out a caution. Loden was clearly upset with Peltier after the race and approached him as he exited the car.
“Yea I guess Loden was a little upset there,” said Peltier. “I don’t know what the deal was. I’m not sure what happened there but we got together once last year too and now this thing, he thinks is my fault. Hopefully it’ll blow over.”
In a race that was determined by tire wear, former PASS Late Model Truck driver, Grant Davidson played that into his favor and survived a caution-ridden final 20 laps to bring home a podium finish.
“It was really kind of a strategy to take it easy back in the pack to save our stuff,” said Davidson. “We really didn’t want to be back there but we didn’t want to set a fast pace in the beginning because we knew this place was going to be really hard on the tires.”
While most drivers would complain about having to worry about tire management, Davidson enjoyed the challenge.
“We’re a real low budget team so that plays in my favor,” explained Davidson. “Because that puts it in the driver’s hands, I feel like. We just rode their and bided our time until about 100 laps in, then we tried to take off and they started coming back to me. From there I just picked them off one by one.
“It was tough too though because I had a left front tire going down there in the last 15 laps, that’s what really killed us, and we were bouncing off the track. It took us about three or four laps for the car to really come in and they would have pulled about a half a straightaway on me and then I could pull them in but with all of the short runs at the end, it just wasn’t a good combination. If we hadn’t had that to deal with I think we probably would have had the car to beat, but that’s how it goes. It was a good start to the year and hopefully we can head to Dillon and get another good finish.”
Next up for the PASS South series will be another trip to a South Carolina short track for the South Carolina Clash at the Dillon Motor Speedway on March 26th.