The Fast Unified Engine Late Models (FUEL) series made its first stop of the season at Friendship Motor Speedway, and one racer was the class of the field in front of a record crowd.
Ross Bailes of Clover, South Carolina, was strong all day, and dominated the 40-lap feature to win the speedway’s largest purse of the night at $3,000. Bailes started off the day earning the pole for the eight-lap dash to determine the polesitter with a 16.000 laptime, then led every lap in the dash.
Once he got out front in the feature, he stayed up there all night, leading all 40 laps. After retaking the points lead at Fayetteville, he held a steady pace and never let anyone come close to him for his third career win at the speedway in front of the largest crowd in FUEL Series history.
“It took me a couple of laps to get the groove going,” Bailes said. “I was trying to pick through there as good as I could and try and keep it clean. We got a great car right now, and hopefully we can knock off a few more wins.”
A popular adage in auto racing is that “cautions breed cautions,” and in the FUEL series it could not have been more true. Bailes opened up a sizeable gap through the first 15 laps before a caution for the 99 of Travis Stoner bunched the field back up. Then, within only an eight-lap span there were three more cautions, most of them coming shortly after a restart.
The last caution happened on lap 30 when Stoner had trouble again and collected the 121 of Bryan Addy. On the ensuing restart the 18 of Brett Hamm added a little bit of pressure, but then Bailes blew them away. Bailes padded his points lead as the series travels south to Modoc, South Carolina, next Saturday night under the lights.
Ryan DeCosta can be reached at 336-258-4052 or via Twitter @rsdecosta.