The Allen Turner Hyundai Pro Late Model Series at Five Flags Speedway has proven to be a launch pad for young, up-and-coming Late Model drivers over the years. The road to this year's Snowflake 100 began on Friday night with a first-time Late Model winner, Dawson Sutton.
Sutton set fast time in qualifying for the 100-lap feature, starting third following the redraw. Sutton took the lead from Bryson Shaffer on the 73rd lap and tactfully negotiated lapped traffic to distance himself from Matt Craig for the win.
“This team gave me a rocketship this weekend,” said Sutton in victory lane. I love this track. We’re going to come back here all season. I just want to thank the Rackley WAR team for giving me such a fast car.”
Between working his way to the lead and working around lapped traffic, Sutton showed great poise for a driver of just 17 years of age still in the early stages of his Late Model career. Sutton felt his experience in Legends cars helped prepare him for moments like Friday night.
“These Legends cars taught me a lot. I feel like whenever I got into these, I already knew how to drive them. This is awesome”
Craig finished second after starting fifth, speaking highly of Sutton after his runner-up finish.
“These guys are good, these young guys are good. They’ve got really good cars and good guys training them. They’re good.”
Craig was patient during the first half of the race, but felt he might have played his hand too early in the caution-free race.
“We were pretty good. We came on strong in the middle of the race. I don’t know, I probably burned my right-front up. I let them get a straightaway away and thought, ‘It doesn’t look like there’s going to be a caution, I better catch up.’ Right when I caught them, the right-front gave up on me.”
Gavin Graham finished third, rebounding from a 10th-place qualifying effort to complete the podium.
“We didn’t start off too good. We started 10th, had a bad qualifying run. We were focused on saving tires, but also push enough to get to the end and pass a lot of cars, to get us in position to end the race. I think if we got a caution, we were charging at the end. We had the fastest car.
“If we keep racing like this, we’re definitely going to have a win coming soon. We had lots of chances to win races last year and this year. I feel like one is coming really soon.”
ALLEN TURNER PRO LATE MODEL RACE #1 RESULTS
1. Dawson Sutton
2. Matt Craig
3. Gavin Graham
4. Bryson Shaffer
5. Dylan Fetcho
6. John Bolen
7. Colin Allman
8. Seth Christensen
9. Jim Wall
10. Carson Brown
11. Katie Hettinger
12. Anthony Cataldi
13. Christopher Tullis
14. Augie Grill
15. Charlie Keeven
16. Johnny Aramendia
17. Jolynn Wilkinson
18. Elliott Massey
19. Greg Fore
20. Bryce Carver
21. Grant Thompson
22. Dustin Smith