December 23, 2013 — Audio, photos and story by Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — Altamahaw, NC — The celebration in Victory Lane Saturday afternoon at Ace Speedway was one for the ages.
And it’s certainly a moment that won’t be forgotten by the Steven Ross Motorsports camp any time soon. In a gut-wrenching, tooth-and-nail battle over the final 10 laps of the Superior Trailer Winter Series season-ending Legends feature, young gun Dillon Faggart from Concord, NC, held off his teammate Michael Torres for his long-awaited first career US Legend Cars victory.
For Faggart, the triumph was a moment three years in the making.
“I can’t believe we’re standing here right now,” the driver of the #12 said in Victory Lane, emotion evident in his voice. “We’ve waited three years for this, worked our tails off every race. I’ve not even been in the car in five months, we decided last minute to make the trip out here. This is unbelievable, to just hop in and pull this off. I don’t even know what to say right now.”
Faggart held on over a series of late race restarts and challenges after first grabbing the lead on Lap 4 from polesitter Joey Azzata, who made the trip up from Florida to drive a Dennis Lambert-prepared car. From there, Faggart would check out from the hard battle for second behind him between his teammate Torres, Ladyga Motorsports driver Carson Ferguson, Winter Series points leader Kyle Beattie, and former teammate Matt Craig. That battle would rage until Lap 9, when a caution flew for a spin by Brain Sockwell’s number 54 in Turn 2.
On the quick restart, Faggart and Torres would again bolt to the top two spots, with Kyle Beattie, who had used the choose option to move up to second, trying to hang tough on the outside. Another caution on Lap 12, for a crash involving the #00 of Craig Biryla and the #8 of Travis Weber, ended the scramble and set up a restart that would ultimately decide the championship battle.
When the green flag flew again, Faggart, Torres and Carson Ferguson would power out to the head of the pack and stage war for the race lead, pinning veteran Kyle Beattie on the outside lane and dropping him all the way back to the fifth position, exactly where he needed to be to clinch the Winter Series points championship.
But in an instant, the entire picture changed. Contact from the 54 of Matt Craig on Lap 16 would send the 84 of Beattie spinning and to the pit area with a bent left rear axle. While the veteran would rejoin the race, he only had nine laps to regain form and return to the top five, and with a badly wounded race car, it seemed near impossible.
However, Beattie gave it a valiant effort. Taking advantage of two lead changes between Carson Ferguson and Dillon Faggart in the final 8 laps, and a late caution with five laps to go, he powered back to seventh, but was unable to get one additional spot. While Faggart took the lead back on Lap 19 and held it the rest of the way, Beattie’s championship rival Michael Torres finished second and took the championship by a razor-thin margin of two points.
“You hate to lose it like that,” Beattie said dejectedly in his hauler after the race. “But what can you do?”
Meanwhile, the Ross Motorsports camp and Michael Torres were jubilant in Victory Lane after waiting anxiously to find out if they had officially won the championship. After the announcement was made, all of the hardware, both the win and the title, went home to the Steven Ross shop.
“It’s amazing,” Michael Torres said following the race as series president Tim Spears, from Superior Trailer, presented the team with the championship spoils. “We won the Summer Shootout championship this year as a rookie, and now we’ve won the Winter Series as well; I just can’t thank everyone enough for all the work they’ve put in this year. It’s been an amazing ride and I hope we can keep it going. Congrats to my teammate Dillon too; he drove an amazing race and we just didn’t quite have enough there at the end.”
Carson Ferguson made a charge in the closing laps to complete the podium in third, with Matt Craig coming home in fourth for the Chase Pistone Inc. stable. 16-year-old Trey Jarrell, out of Bassett, Virginia, completed the top five in his first race back in a Legend car in over a year’s time. Jarrell spent the 2013 season driving late models for the Sellers Racing camp.
But for all the stories that played out during the course of the day, in the end, one name truly headlined the action, and that was car owner Steven Ross.
“It’s been an amazing year for sure,” Ross said at the end of the afternoon. “And now that it’s over, we’re going to celebrate in a big way tonight.”
With the conclusion of the Superior Trailer Winter Series, US Legend Cars is now set to begin their 2014 season January 4th on the oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Winter Heat.
Results – Superior Trailer Winter Series Race #6 – Ace Speedway:
Legends (25 laps):
1. Dillon Faggart, 2. Michael Torres, 3. Carson Ferguson, 4. Matt Craig, 5. Trey Jarrell, 6. Joey Azzata, 7. Kyle Beattie, 8. Brian Sockwell, 9. AJ Davis, 10. Chris Lilly, 11. Craig Biryla, 12. John Davis, 13. Kevin Yeatts, 14. Ryan DeMartini, 15. Travis Weber, 16. Ryan Millington, 17. Brandon McKenzie, 18. Alex Pacheco
Audio with race winner Dillon Faggart:
Audio with second place finisher and overall Winter Series champion Michael Torres:
Audio with third place finisher Carson Ferguson:
Audio with fourth place finisher Matt Craig:
Audio with fifth place finisher Trey Jarrell: