CONCORD, N.C. — Story by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Laura Ward/LWPictures photo —
DRIVER: Ashton Higgins
TOP FIVES: 8
TOP TENS: 8
FINAL POINTS: 437 (out of a possible 460)
BEST ON-TRACK MOMENT: Winning three races in a row to close the 2015 Bojangles’ Summer Shootout after a rear shock failure took him out of the race in Round 7.
BEST OFF-TRACK MOMENT: Rallying his AK Performance team after the DNF, as well as during finale night after a crash during his heat race nearly left him unable to start the final main event.
Bandolero Outlaws competitor Ashton Higgins has put together a season that most short track racers across America would be jealous of.
The 12-year-old from Weaverville, N.C. won the Atlanta Motor Speedway Thursday Thunder championship in dominating fashion, winning six of the 10 races at AMS, and followed that performance up with seven wins at the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout en route to his first career title at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
If you do the math, that’s 13 wins in 18 starts this summer — or a 72% winning ratio — for the young driver who becomes the second consecutive Bandolero Outlaw to sweep Atlanta and Charlotte in the same season, after Jensen Jorgensen accomplished the feat a year ago.
“It’s a great feeling,” Higgins said of winning both titles for the first time. “I never thought we’d be able to sweep Atlanta and Charlotte, but to be able to make it happen is an unbelievable feeling and I’ll remember this night for a long time.”
“This has honestly been close to a dream season for us. We took Atlanta, and we took Charlotte. We’re halfway to a perfect season when you think about it. We’ve got the [Bandolero] Nationals coming up this weekend at Charlotte and if we win that then we’re in the driver’s seat for the national championship as well. We’ve just got a couple more steps to go and I’m super excited about that.”
Higgins also won his divisional race during Friday night’s Racing Electronics “Madhouse Mania” event at Bowman Gray Stadium, one of the most prestigious single events for USLCI compeitiors all season, as a prelude to this weekend’s Bandolero Nationals.
The INEX Bandolero Nationals take place this Thursday and Friday, August 7-8, at CMS and serves as the national championship race for all Bandolero drivers across the United States and Canada. Finishing position in the main event is used as the tiebreaker to determine final points positions for any deadlocked drivers in the title hunt — including the champion.
That means if multiple drivers are maxed out at 2,000 points at the end of the season, whichever of those drivers had the highest finish in this weekend’s Nationals would earn the national championship, and Higgins is hoping that driver will be him.
“We’re gunning for a Nationals win this weekend,” the 12-year-old said emphatically. “We know it’s not going to be easy, but now that we’ve proven we have what it takes to win at Charlotte and we know what we need, we’re confident we can make it happen on Friday night under the lights.”
“I’ve already won AK Performance their first career Shootout championship, and I’d like to be the one to bring them home a national championshp as well.”
With Higgins having already maxed out his points total at 2,000, if he wins the Nationals he will automatically clinch the 2015 Bandolero Outlaws national title by virtue of the rulebook, explained above.
That would make Higgins just the second Bandolero driver in history to complete the perfect season — joining Jorgensen in sweeping Atlanta, Charlotte, the Nationals and the season-long championship all in the same year.
Has the self-proclaimed prankster with a love for riding dirt bikes in his spare time allowed himself to think about that fact just yet?
“It hasn’t even begun to set in how close we are to finishing our goal this year,” Higgins admitted. “That would be beyond any dream we had going into the year. We expected to be solid, win some races and be in contention, but I never pictured having a season like this.”
“I love being behind the wheel, and I love working with AK Performance. This has been a year to remember for me and I hope it leads to even bigger things for the future.”
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. He 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.
Email Jacob at: [email protected]