Short-Track Top Five: Chris Ferguson
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Short-Track Top Five. Every week NSSN will talk to a different short-track driver and get his or her thoughts and opinions on a series of five questions.
This week National Speed Sport News talks to Chris Ferguson, the 2009 Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series Rookie of the Year.
A native of Mount Holly, N.C., Ferguson started out in go-karts before moving to the dirt-late-model world, capturing victories at dirt tracks throughout North and South Carolina. He finished seventh in the Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series standings last year.
NSSN: What influenced you to become a race car driver?
FERGUSON: Pretty much my family. My whole family has kind of raced on and off, whether it be dirt-track, dirt bike, drag racing, everything. My grandpa started out racing six cylinders around Concord (N.C.) Speedway and Hickory, N.C. That was back when they use to be dirt. They are asphalt now. That kind of rubbed off to my uncle. He drag raced and my dad, he also raced on dirt. Basically I just kind of grew up watching them. When I was about 12 years old I told my dad I wanted to race and the most logical thing to race at the time was a go-kart. That is pretty much how I got started.
NSSN: If you had the chance to race in the Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500, which would it be and why?
FERGUSON: I’d probably choose the Daytona 500 just because I’ve more or less been a NASCAR fan since I was young. I live right here outside of Charlotte, N.C., so it is pretty much Race City USA in Mooresville and where all the Cup teams are. The prestige of the 500, the guys who have won it. I know the Indy 500 is very important in the open-wheel world. More or less in our world, you know, the stock-cars, the Daytona 500 is the crown jewel of all crown jewels, so that would probably be my pick.
NSSN: How healthy is short-track racing in the United States?
FERGUSON: I feel like right now it is definitely on the uphill compared to the last three years. The last three years have just been tough. You definitely saw more tracks closed down in the last three years then I think ever. There have been a whole lot lower cars counts even at the regular shows and even at big shows too. In the racing we do, the dirt-late-model racing, crown jewel events use to get upwards of 180 cars at Eldora. I think this year they barely got over 100. I think that is just a sign of the economy.
I think at the end of last year, a little bit last year and I think more this year, everything is kind of turning around. I definitely feel like it is on the uphill. I don’t know if it is completely back as healthy as it was five or six years ago, but you definitely see a lot of people racing more and more tracks doing more shows and fans in the stands. People are starting to come back to the track that have that extra $20 to spend on getting into the stands and $30 to get into the pits. I think it is healthy but I think it is also on the uphill right now.
NSSN: What is the wildest race you’ve ever been a part of?
FERGUSON: There have actually been a couple of them, but my favorite one was one we actually finished second in. It was at a track called 311 Fastrack in Madison, N.C. It was a Carolina Clash event. It was in 2009. We had qualified seventh and the race track was really fast at the beginning. Everyone was kind of running the top. With about 10 laps to go we started moving up because the track started blowing up and we were running fourth with about five to go. The top two guys were running the top, the third-place guy was running the middle and I was running the bottom. With three go I passed third place and the guys in first and second were swapping the lead back and forth every corner.
I know we took the two to go sign and the guy running in front of me, his name was Dennis Franklin. I think he pulled a slide job on the leader, which was Ricky Weeks at the time. I was kind of running third and I was running right behind them but I couldn’t get a real good run on them. Sure enough, as soon as he [Franklin] pulled a slide job on the guy running in the lead that guy [Weeks] went down into the corner and messed up and allowed me to get second place. I pulled a slide job on second place.
We came out of four and came to the white flag and going into one there was a lapped car right in the middle of the track. I chose the bottom and the guy that was leading chose the top. At first the lapped car kind of slid up so it slowed the guy leading down and I got up under both of them coming out of the corner. But sure enough when I got up under them the lapped car, he didn’t see me but he did see the guy on the outside of him, he turned down and when he turned it really killed my momentum and I ended up finishing second. Those last three laps were probably one of the best races I’ve been involved in.
NSSN: At the end of your career, what do you hope people will remember about you?
FERGUSON: I want everybody to remember me as a good driver, a great person, somebody who raced others like I want to be raced. I want them to know that I’m a Christian. I race, but racing isn’t the most important thing. God is and family and other things matter. I want people to remember me as being accomplished and as a pretty good driver.