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Chris Ferguson en route to victory Friday night at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. (BMS photo)

Ferguson Holds Off Larson On Bristol Dirt

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Chris Ferguson has won some big races in his career, but Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway he said he won the biggest one yet.

Ferguson held off a star-studded field of racers to win the 25-lap super late model feature at the Karl Kustoms Bristol Dirt Nationals and pocket the $10,000-to-win payday. He will be the favorite to win Saturday night’s big 40-lap, $50,000-to-win feature.

Ferguson held off NASCAR Cup Series star Kyle Larson to take the victory. Jonathan Davenport finished third, Scott Bloomquist was fourth and Chris Madden finished fifth.

“This one is at the top of the list for sure,” Ferguson said. “Winning at Lucas Oil Raceway (Indianapolis) was really cool, but when we came to Bristol, it was like wow, this is a whole another animal. The guys that ran second and third are the best in the world, and we were able to beat them tonight.”

Ferguson posted the quickest lap of the race, on lap six, when he clocked in at 15.52 seconds. He clearly had found the quickest way around the temporary dirt-filled iconic .533-mile oval that’s produced so many memorable racing moments over the years.

“The half-miles are always fun for me, I truly enjoy the speed,” Ferguson said. “It really brings out the skills of the driver because you can’t make mistakes, because one little slip and you will lose quite a bit of time and track position.”

In addition to second place finisher Larson, the race featured two other Cup Series regulars in Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch.

Elliott got tangled up with Dakotah Knuckles with 11 laps to go and ended his night at 17th. Busch, an eight-time BMS winner in the Cup Series, drove his No. 51 machine to a 13th-place finish. The trio of drivers will compete in the historic Food City Dirt Race next Sunday, the first time the NASCAR Cup Series has raced on a dirt surface in more than 50 years.

While Elliott and Busch had their issues, Larson started the race on the front row, dropped to third for a bit and then was able to find his groove and post the second-place finish.

“My car was tight early and the track was so fast early I was trying to get in line and figure out where my car would turn,” Larson said. “I finally found a good line that worked for me and if we stayed green I think I could’ve made a move. After the cautions dropped we just never found it again.”

Larson, who won 46 dirt races across the country last season and finished second 20 more times, says he loves the variety of dirt racing and enjoys the super late models.

“I feel like I have a lot to learn in these things, it’s so tight and there’s so much mechanical grip, I get myself in bad spots sometimes, so I have to get better than that,” Larson said.

“Being with a great team, they have a great package, so to know I’m going to have a good car every time I’m at the track is awesome. I’ve had a chance to race a lot of different types of cars and I feel like I can adapt quickly.”

The win was Ferguson’s 75th career dirt late model victory. Tomorrow night he will go for No. 76 with a big payday on the line.

“Every year we get a little closer to being at the top of the sport,” Ferguson said. “The last couple of years we’ve got a little closer. Hopefully this kind of launches us into a spot where we are considered one of the best. If we show up we want to be one of the guys to beat.

“I’m excited for tomorrow night I think we have a good car. I wasn’t pushing it too hard in lapped traffic. We were kind of cruising. We’ve got to get the car to run a little cooler and handle that issue, but I think we have a good long race car for tomorrow.”

The finish:

Chris Ferguson, Kyle Larson, Jonathan Davenport, Scott Bloomquist, Chris Madden, Michael Rouse, Boom Briggs, Adam Yarbrough, Jason Riggs, Michael Chilton, Donald McIntosh, Dakotah Knuckles, Kyle Busch, Jay Scott, David Payne, Ricky Thornton Jr., Chase Elliott, Brian Nuttall Jr., Tyler Millwood, Brandon Overton, Ray Cook, Jensen Ford, Coleby Frye, Frank Ingram.

See other Bristol results.