CONCORD, N.C. — Report by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Audio by Kyle Magda and James Pike — Carson Ferguson Racing photo —
After coming from mid-pack at the start of the second segment, Carson Ferguson proved that he will be a force to be reckoned with all summer long in a Ladyga Motorsports Legend Car — picking up the win in the 2015 Legends All-Star Race on Thursday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway as a precursor to the upcoming Bojangles Summer Shootout Series next month.
The event was held following Liftmaster Pole Night festivities for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, with the stars and cars of U.S. Legends Cars International taking to the same frontstretch quarter-mile that they will do battle on for eight weeks and ten races in June and July for 50-action packed laps.
After Jordan Black set quick time on Wednesday and Ferguson earned the pole for Thursday night’s event following a redraw of the top six qualifiers, the former Shootout and Legends national champion quickly jetted out to the point and scrapped hard for the lead with Joey Padgett during a caution-filled first segment.
Early trouble for Jeffery Dunfee, former USLCI champs Tyler Green and William Byron, as well as young guns Chase Purdy and Jacob Heafner saw all of their chances at victory lane either dashed or severely hindered long before the halfway break at lap 25 — while Padgett finally worked around Ferguson for the lead just before the end of the first segment, shuffling Ferguson back to do battle with his teammate Alex Reece by the time the caution came out for the intermission.
An inversion of the top running positions at the break saw Ferguson line up eighth for the restart with Dillon Faggart on point, but tempers began to flare early and chaos broke out when the No. 51 of Eddie Fatscher and the No. 52 of Jordan Stillwell got together and sparked a melee in turn two, shuffling the running order early in the second 25 as Apopka, Fla. young gun Michael Torres ultimately jumped out to the early advantage in segment two ahead of Alex Reece.
Reece would encounter trouble of his own, however — looping his car from the third spot just prior to lap 30 and dropping to the tail while somehow not being hit by oncoming traffic.
In the meantime, Torres continued to lead before the event’s first major crash of the night broke out with 20 to go, when Austin Langenstein and Stevie Johns got together to bring out the caution flag — Langenstein ending up on top of the hood of the No. 91 of Johns in a chaotic mess.
That incident set up a wild restart that saw Padgett squeeze by Torres on lap 31 before Eddie Fatscher’s flip with 18 laps to go drew the red flag and the wrecker to take away a bodyless machine — Fatscher walked away unhurt from the exchange.
From there, it was a full moon rising as cautions at lap 34 for a scuffle between Torres and Alex Pacheco that saw Pacheco go around off of Torres’ bumper; lap 35 when Langenstein — who restarted following his incident with Johns — looped Jacob Heafner around after Heafner’s charge from the tail in the second half; and lap 39 when Torres spun out, ending his shot at the win; shuffled the top five and allowed Ferguson to quietly and methodically work his way back through the field for a restart with 10 laps to settle it.
While Padgett took the lead before the final yellow of the night flew when Ferguson’s Ladyga Motorsports teammate Alex Reece lost a wheel and collected the No. 11 of Dawson Cram, Ferguson was not to be denied in the race-deciding nine lap sprint to the finish — taking the lead away on the restart and running off to the checkered flag — and a specially-designed Coca-Cola trophy in Victory Lane.
“I knew that the laps were winding down and [we were coming up] on the time limit — I think they might have given us a little extra time there — but the two restarts before [the last one] I was able to time it perfect and cut underneath guys to move my way back forward,” Ferguson said in Victory Lane. “That last one I went a little earlier than I should have and got in the back of Joey. I hated to do that, but thankfully it was getting into the corner and didn’t really screw us up any.”
“I was able to pull up under him in turn one, and I had to shove my way through there — but I do have to thank Joey for giving me room for the most part. He raced me clean and I’m thankful for that. Thankful to be standing here tonight.”
Padgett battled for second with his Sunshine State rival Jordan Black in the final laps, but was overhauled after the restart and fell to third, while Black came home as the runner-up on a wild night after his top effort in Wednesday’s qualifying.
“We had a good night,” Black said. “The first segment I feel like we were a considerable amount faster than everyone in front of us, but we were just ill-handling in traffic. The second segment was all about survival, and we were at least able to survive.”
“When Carson ended up getting around Joey, Joey and I made some contact — but that’s just racing. I don’t think I had anything for Carson once I got to second, but I’m happy with our finish and I can’t wait to come back out here for the Summer Shootout.”
Chase Purdy battled back from a pair of spins during the course of the race to record a fourth place result, while Byron recovered from a spin of his own to round out the top five at the checkered flag.
While Ferguson won last year’s Young Lions division title at the Summer Shootout, he circles an All-Star win as one of the biggest moments of his young career.
“This is definitely one of the best wins I’ve ever had,” the Matthews, N.C. hotshoe smiled. “I’ve always wanted to win this race; [former teammate] Daniel Hemric won the first one (then called the Legends Million) and ever since he did it I’ve wanted it bad. I just had faith and didn’t give up [like he always told me] and it paid off in those final laps.”
The next action for Legends Cars at the Charlotte Motor Speedway will be opening night for the 2015 Bojangles Summer Shootout, on Monday, June 8.
Audio with 2015 Legends All-Star Race winner Carson Ferguson:
Audio with runner-up Jordan Black:
Full results to follow…