Hunt The Front Super Dirt Series

Smith pockets $12,000 in popular Lancaster victory
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6/21/2024

6/21/2024

Hunt The Front Super Dirt Series


Smith pockets $12,000 in popular Lancaster victory

LANCASTER, S.C. (June 21) – Jeff Smith sat patiently inside the cockpit of his Longhorn Chassis in victory lane at Lancaster (S.C.) Motor Speedway until getting the word from Hunt the Front Super Dirt Series officials that it was time to exit. He then grabbed the checkered flag, sat on the side of his familiar yellow- and green-trimmed blue and white No. 70 and waved the flag back and forth victoriously.

No antics. No rooftop celebration. Just the overwhelming feeling a joy from a 58-year-old veteran racer who’s been to victory lane plenty of times during a prolific career chasing regional races throughout the Carolinas.

Smith, a Dallas, N.C., native who has 31 career Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series victories to go along with the 2009 Clash Series championship, survived Friday’s Hunt the Front Super Dirt Series debut in South Carolina for yet another victory. He inherited the lead from Donald McIntosh of Dawsonville, Ga., during a lap-25 red flag stop to allow drivers to change their helmets of replace tear-offs – the super thin, transparent film designed to protect a driver's helmet visor from mud and debris – and led the rest of the way in a main event shortened to 40 laps from its originally-scheduled 50.

“It was just meant for us to win this tonight,” said Smith. “We had luck in the heat race; we had some luck in the feature. The cautions came right. We were having overheating problems all night and I could get (the engine) cooled down under the caution enough to go a few more laps.”

Friday’s $12,000 Buddy Crook Memorial triumph, Smith’s first five-figure payday since winning a $10,000 World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series feature at Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway in 2009, was his first career Hunt the Front Series victory and first Super Late Model win of any kind since an Ultimate Southeast victory at Lake View Motor Speedway in Nichols, S.C., last August.

It was a popular victory among both fans and fellow drivers for the son of National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame inductee Freddy Smith and fell on his mother Naomi’s 82nd birthday. After taking the lead, Smith, who started second, had to turn back a late charge from 11th-starting Zack Mitchell of Enoree, S.C. Mitchell rallied to the runner-up spot, finishing 1.074 seconds behind the winner, despite battling fuel pressure issues.

“We’ve been fighting fuel problems all night long and that kinda buried us in qualifying,” said Mitchell. “We thought we had it taken care of, but it was falling on its face about the time I get back on the throttle about the whole race and it was really hurting me there at the end when I was needing to stand back in it really hard to get turned.”

Ross Bailes of Clover, S.C., started 12th, followed Mitchell to the front and finished third, while series regular Sam Seawright of Fort Payne, Ala., finished fourth after starting 10th. Sixth-starting Ashton Winger of Hampton, Ga., climbed as high as second, where he was running on laps 31-32, before slipping back to finish fifth.

Chasing his eighth consecutive special event win at his home track dating back to 2022, Lancaster’s Ben Watkins led the first 13 laps from the pole position, but slowed suddenly exiting turn four, coasted down the frontstretch and turned into the pit area, handing the lead to McIntosh, who led the next 12 laps. Watkins finished 19th, while McIntosh returned to the track and finished 12th after spinning while running ninth on lap 30. The race was slowed by six cautions, including one on lap 12 for series points leader Brandon, Overton of Evans, Ga., who slowed with a right rear flat tire. Overton finished 20th.

Friday’s race was the weekend opener of a Carolina doubleheader for the Hunt the Front Series, which shifts to Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C., for a $20,000-to-win show on Saturday.


Article Credit: Robert Holman | ZSK Photography

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