Michael Cherry won his first career late model race at Tri-County Motor Speedway Friday night, becoming the first African American to win a late model race at the 0.4-mile speedway. Cherry won the pole and led all 35 laps of the race en route to his first career NASCAR Whelen All-American Series victory.
“Man this has been a long time coming,” said Cherry, who is in his third season with Drive for Diversity. “I can’t thank everyone at Revolution Racing enough for believing in me and making this happen. A big shout out to my crew chief, Brandon Butler, John Story, Max Siegel and everyone else at Revolution Racing who had something to do with this win tonight.”
Cherry started on the pole in the No. 2 MBC Group Late Model for both segments of the Twin 35 event after posting qualifying laps of 16.284 and 16.287 seconds. Cherry lost the lead on the first lap of the first 35 lap race, and was unable to retake the position from the No. 27 of Grant Wimbish. Cherry finished the race second, his third runner-up finish of the year at Tri-County Motor Speedway, but knew he had a car that was capable of winning.
“I just wasn’t able to get back around the No. 27,” said Cherry. “He had a heck of a motor in that thing, but I think if we could have gotten by him we would have pulled away. Unfortunately we just couldn’t get back out front.”
In the second 35 lap race, Cherry got that opportunity. He led the field to the green, and this time he didn’t relinquish the lead. He led all 35 laps on the way to his first career late model win, taking the checkered flag with a half of a straightaway lead over his Revolution Racing teammate Becca Kasten, who crossed the line second in the No. 5 AirTight Mechanical Late Model.
The win also marks the first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series win for Revolution Racing, a team that has been making history all season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Darrell Wallace Jr., became the youngest driver and first African American winner in series history with his win at Greenville Pickens Speedway earlier this year. Last weekend, Ryan Gifford became the first African American pole winner in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East history.
“I’m just tickled to death to be a part of this team,” said Butler. “I think I wore out the bottoms of my shoes pacing back and forth in the pits during those 35 laps. I was confident we had the car to beat, but I also know how bad Michael wanted, and needed, this win. I was a nervous wreck for him. I’m just so glad we were able to get this first win for everyone at Revolution Racing.”
Revolution Racing looks to continue its winning ways tonight at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Cherry, Kasten and teammate Megan Reitenour will compete in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model division.
Photos Courtesy of L&D Photography
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