NICHOLS, SC – After setting quick time in Qualifying and winning his Heat Race, Matthew Nance was on a roll and found himself just 15 laps away from his first career Drydene Xtreme DIRTcar Series Feature win in the tour’s debut at Lake View Motor Speedway with Ross Bailes right on heels. Until he reached the backstretch.
A lapped car suddenly slowed dramatically heading down the back straightaway. Nance, of Ronda, NC, was going full throttle behind him and made significant contact, leaving Ross Bailes with nowhere to go as he piled-in and spun around immediately after.
“I don’t know if [the lapped car] stopped or what, but Matthew got into him and then I just drilled him because I didn’t have anywhere to go,” Bailes, of Clover, SC, said.
The two retained their pre-caution-flag spots for the restart, as the yellow was thrown for the lapped car. Both leaders took body damage from the incident, but Nance was left with the worst. The nose of his Rum Runner Racing #2 had been considerably bent upward, and he was only 15 laps from the checkered with a limited ability to control his car.
“When it got the nose knocked up in the air, it lets all the air under the car and it just lifts both the front tires up and you have no steer, so the only thing I had to drive with after that was just the gas and brake pedal,” Nance said.
The green dropped, and Bailes could taste the blood in the water.
“I knew I wasn’t going to pass [Nance] on the bottom. I knew that if I was going to win the race, I would have to pass him up top.”
One spot ahead, Nance knew his car was damaged. He did his best to change the way he drove it around the 4/10-mile, but he could only hold Bailes off for so long.
“We held on as long as we could there until about five-to-go,” Nance said. “I knew if just stayed on the bottom and kept trying to get the car to turn, don’t get the tires hot and let Ross get under us, we’d make him work for it on the top.
“But I [kept having to] slide the right-rear to steer, and when you start doing that, your tire starts wearing out in a hurry. It gets hot and you start having to slow down getting in on corner entry.”
Bailes made his decision quickly, but Nance found some strong reliance, holding the lead until Lap 34 when Bailes pulled the trigger and drove off to the $7,000 victory.
“I got up high in [Turns] 3 & 4 one time and it felt pretty good, so I thought, ‘well I’m going to charge in there even harder next time.’ And sure enough, it stuck, and it was the move that won the race,” Bailes said.
Nance held on to second, marking his first career Xtreme podium. While he did score a career best finish, he was disappointed with the outcome of his incident while leading.
“It pretty much cost us the race tonight; we had a pretty good car until that. We knocked the nose up in the air and it just messed aero up on the car pretty bad,” he said.
Cla Knight, of North Augusta, SC, crossed the stripe in third, also marking his first career podium on the Xtreme circuit. Dustin Mitchell came home fourth while Stewart Friesen, the Super DIRTcar Series star and NASCAR Truck Series regular, drove a stellar race in his debut with the tour to finish fifth.
Chris Madden, of Gray Court, SC, placed 8th and retained his Series points lead by 15 over second-place Kyle Strickler, who finished 7th.
Round #5 of the 2020-21 Drydene Xtreme DIRTcar Series campaign hits the red clay of the Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, SC, Sunday afternoon. Catch all the action live on DIRTVision!
Feature (40 Laps) 1. 79-Ross Bailes [$7,000]; 2. 2-Matthew Nance [$2,500]; 3. 42K-Cla Knight [$1,700]; 4. 32-Dustin Mitchell [$1,400]; 5. 44F-Stewart Friesen [$1,200]; 6. 18D-Daulton Wilson [$1,000]; 7. 8-Kyle Strickler [$800]; 8. 44-Chris Madden [$700]; 9. 88-Trent Ivey [$600]; 10. 19-Pearson Lee Williams [$550]; 11. 421-Anthony Sanders [$500]; 12. 24D-Michael Brown [$500]; 13. 15-Michael Marlowe [$500]; 14. 6-Chris Blackwell [$500]; 15. 16-Brian Nuttall [$500]; 16. O6-Christian Thomas [$500]; 17. 26JR-Jimmy Sharpe [$500]; 18. 20H-Bryson Harper [$500]; 19. 17V-Tim Vance [$500]; 20. 23-Michael Rouse [$500]; 21. 1-Willie Milliken [$500]; 22. 4-Kale Green [$500]; 23. 57-Adam Yarbrough [$500] Hard Charger: 15-Michael Marlowe[+4]