Gastonia, NC (May 20, 2022) – As temperatures soared into the high 90’s, teams from five different states gathered on the North Carolina / South Carolina border just north of Lake Wylie for Round 4 of the 2022 Steel Block Bandits Dirt Late Model Challenge season. Thirty teams signed in for the 35 lap, $4000 to win affair as the first race of a doubleheader weekend commenced at Carolina Speedway.
HGR’s Truck & Trailer Sales, Inc. qualifying would kick off the festivities, with two groups of 15 cars taking time. Russell Erwin was fastest in Group A with a lap of 16.009 only to be topped by Dustin Mitchell who laid down a blistering 15.899 to grab the $300 pole award Money from Bryan Sullivan and Martin Pressure Washing. It would be Mitchell’s second pole of the season.Heat races were up next with the top 4 out of each heat transferring to the big show.
Russell Erwin had no problem picking up the Hardison Suspension Technologies heat 1 win. He was followed by Team Michael Batten Motorsports , Michael Rouse and Timmy Blackwell.
Cody Wright Racing #11 would win the Scott Service Company heat number 2 followed by Jay Sessoms, Willie Milliken and Robbie Emory.
The Mega Plumbing of the Carolinas Heat 3 went to Mitchell with Matt Long Racing, Brian Strickland and Jesse Rockett all transferring. The final heat saw Derrick Quade Racing #74 lead up until the halfway mark , when something in the motor let go ending his night. Tyler Bare goes on to win the VP Racing Fuels heat with Alex Hendren Racing, Tommy Jones and Michael Clark making the show. Gray Parton would win the first Motul LCQ race bringing Timbo Mangum and Derrick Rankin Racing #72 with him. Mike Evock, the founder of Racing for Heroes gets the win in LCQ #2 with Steve Detrick and Timmy Rominger transferring.
The field was set for the feature with Erwin and Mitchell setting the pace as the 24 car field roared to life in front of a great Friday crowd in Gastonia. Mitchell would get a run on Erwin down the back as the two battled door to door before contact sent Erwin spinning to the inside on the front stretch. The defending champ would not return and settled for a 19th place finish. On the restart, Sessoms, Long and Rockett ended up tangled together in turn one ending the night for Sessoms and Long.
Michael Batten would keep Mitchell in an earshot but a aero push hurt the Wilson NC driver on this night. Dusty conditions plaques many of the drivers especially on restarts as plumes of dust made vision nearly impossible off turns two and four. Michell goes on to win his third race of the season, Batten was second, Bare third, Michael Rouse fourth and Cody Wright grabs his first top five of the season. With that, Wright picks up the $100 from Furr’s Deli for bring the Arizona Sport Shirts highest finishing Rookie presented by New Point Lighting and Design.Bandit Bites:* Tough night for the home team guys- Jay Sessoms, Dan Breuer, Matt Long and Jesse Rockett.
All had incidents with Rockett salvaging a 12th place finish.* Great night for Rookie points leader Derrick Rankin, started 21st and comes home 7th. “Man that was a long race or at least it felt like it, I’m beat” noted the Virginia native.
* After missing the show at Smoky Mtn, Robbie Emory bounces back nicely with an 8th place finish.
* Batten seems to have turned his season around. After early season woes, this team is putting together some solid finishes.* Tyler Bare continues to impress with his 525 motor.
He will gain a ton of points after his podium tonight.
* Heartbreak for Quade, second in points and the motor goes south in his heat race. Quade was on cue for a great night after a solid qualifying effort.Up next:
Lap leaders- Mitchell 1-35
GEN 3 Performance Imaging Denah Strong, Wings of Hope point leader into Friendship- Mitchell $100
Rookie of Race- Wright $100
EP/ Bandit PR
Carolina Speedway (Gastonia, N.C.)
- Dustin Mitchell
- Michael Batten
- Tyler Bare
- Michael Rouse
- Cody Wright
- Tommy Jones
- Derrick Rankin
- Robbie Emory
- Willie Milliken
- Brian Strickland
- Alex Hendren
- Jesse Rockett
- Mike Evock
- Timmy Rominger
- Dan Breuer
- Lance Brasington
- Timmy Blackwell
- Mike Clark
- Russell Erwin
- Matt Long
- Jay Sessoms
- Gray Parton
- Steve Dietrick
- Timbo Mangum