Drew Brannon from Miami, Florida took the first win of the season for the ASA Late Model Series and teams at Charlotte County Motorsports Park on Saturday, March 14th 2009. It was the first event for sixteen-year old Drew Brannon behind the wheel of SS Green Light Racings potent late models fielded by three-time ASA National Series Champion Butch Miller. The paring of young Brannon and the legendary short-track master looks like a winning combination.
Drew is no stranger to the series; he ran multiple events during the 2008 season, winning his first ASALMS event last July at I-70 Speedway for the 'Firecracker 150.' Drew was only 15 years old when he won his first ASALMS event.
Winning 'The Real Diehl 100' is a great start and now he has to prove that he is the 'Real Deal' all the way. Standing in the shadow of ASALMS Southern Champion, Jimmy Lang, who swept the south in 2008 with five feature wins and un-beatable determination. Drew definitely has the drive and the attitude and the pairing with the SS Green Light Racing team could mean go, go, go.
The Charlotte County event was a blend of great things; perfect weather, an awesome crowd and some of the best Short Track Teams in the South. We had two great days at CCMP where the atmosphere was as pleasant as the weather.
The event was filled with high energy from lap one with the 31 of Brian Blum starting on the pole, followed by the 59 Dustin Dunn and the 33 of Casey Caudill. At lap 22 Casey got turned around and made way for the 08 of Drew Brannon, the 88 of Justin Larson and the 93 of Brandon Johnson to move into the first, second and third spots on the 1/3 mile oval track.
Dustin Dunn, Stephen Nasse, Jeremy Gerstner, Austin Kirkpatrick and Cody Benoit were all 'game on' to be a part of the top five. At the end, it was Dustin Dunn and Jeremy Gerstner who rounded out the top five of the first event of the season.
The field was filled with plenty of finesse, we had DJ Shaw a regular of the Pass Series and Camping World, haul out from New Hampshire to be a part of the action. DJ had a strong showing in practice all weekend long. Rebecca Kasten and her crew came in all the way from Wisconsin to check out the south competition. Rebecca is a name that will be a strong part of short track racing during the 2009 season. She has been pretty busy getting in seat time all over the country and different tracks against a variety of teams; a great strategy that should pay off for her in the near future. Tanner Berryhill from Tulsa, OK made an appearance on Friday and took a few runs in the 61 car LS3 powered machine.
Cody Benoit, a CCMP regular joined us for the weekend in the #4 car; during Friday practice they blew their motor. They were pretty determined to find a way to still race the event and in the end they leased the 61 LS3 powered Machine and went out and had a strong qualifying and a strong showing in the 'Real Diehl 100'. It was really exciting to get the new LS3 Motor out in the field at the first event of the season and have the performance right on par with the other competitors with the traditional crate motor.
Casey Caudill will keep his focus on the next event and will put the tough luck of the season opener behind him. 15 year old Casey still managed to finish eighth and had a great qualifying run.
Brandon Johnson, our fast qualifier broke the ASALMS track record set by Brian Blum in 2008 (15.190). Brandon whipped around the track in just 15.101 seconds. Although he managed a 3rd place finish, he struggled all night with car troubles and was not able to give Drew the battle he had hoped for.
Michael Seeright fell out early after suffering with car problems all weekend. He did what he could but was only able to get in 40 laps out of the 100.
The 31 of Brian Blum also ended his night early with electrical problems; he went out on lap 56; a tough break for Brian and his team.
Ross Chastain who was fielding the 78 car of GMR had troubles as well with their transmission; they managed 77 laps before they had to call it a night.
All teams on the track finished on the lead lap, three teams were awarded the 'Free Pass' that is given at each caution; 9 Rob Partelo, 127 Kyle Maynard and 90 Rebecca Kasten.
We had 6 cautions total, and no real damage to any of the pristine looking machines of the ASALMS teams. Race number one is in the books and pretty successful for all of us.
Special thanks to Racing Electronics for coming out and making sure our teams were well hooked up with communications and Renegade Trailers for bringing out a great display for our teams to check out. The ASALMS Officials did an outstanding job this weekend and are ready to head to SGMP on March 28th for the Southern second 'The Georgia 100'.
Bobby Diehl, Track owner of CCMP and his staff are hands down some of the most hospitable and friendly folks in the south. The massive crowd that joined Diehl and his staff is a great indicator of what fans are looking for to have a good time.
“This was by far the one of the best season openers we ever had. It is always nice to come out and have a huge crowd for our teams showcase their talent in front of.” Stated Ron Varney, ASALMS Series Owner. “This is the second time we raced at CCMP and both times it has been standing room only. It just goes to show that the fans enjoy seeing 'America's Premier Short Track Series.”
The Real Diehl 100 Unofficial Results
1. 08 - Drew Brannon 100
2. 88 - Justin Larson 100
3. 93 - Brandon Johnson 100
4. 59 - Dustin Dunn 100
5.70 - Jeremy Gerstner 100
6. 11 - Austin Kirkpatrick 100
7. 61 - Cody Benoit 100
8. 33 - Casey Caudill 100
9. 90 - Rebecca Kasten 100
10. 60 - DJ Shaw 100
11. 9 - Rob Partelo 100
12. 51 - Stephen Nasse 100
13. 127 - Kyle Maynard 100
14. 78 - Ross Chastain 77 (mechanical)
15. 31 - Brian Blum 56 (Mechanical)
16. 8 - Michael Seeright 40 (Mechanical)