Weekend race notes 2003-03-30

Mark Smith wins Selinsgrove Spring Thaw opener Friday. Camp Hill's Mark Smith picked up his first win of 2003 in Selinsgrove Speedway's Spring Thaw Season Opener Friday night. Seventh starting Jason Schmidt inherited the lead in the 15-lap ...

Mark Smith wins Selinsgrove Spring Thaw opener Friday.

Camp Hill's Mark Smith picked up his first win of 2003 in Selinsgrove Speedway's Spring Thaw Season Opener Friday night.

Seventh starting Jason Schmidt inherited the lead in the 15-lap pro stock feature with two to go when race-leader Gary Beward was side-lined with a flat tire, giving Schmidt his second overall win at Selinsgrove.

Smith's win in the first of five Middleswarth Potato Chips 410 Sprint Car Series events at Selinsgrove was also the inaugural win for former-driver turned car-owner Shawn Keen of Carlisle.

"This is the second race in this car," said a happy Smith and Keen in victory lane. "To give Shawn his first win as a car owner...this is awesome."

Early on it didn't look like a Smith win. It looked more like a solid second place finish after the frontrow starter watched 12th-starting Greg Hodnett of Memphis, TN, easily drive around him for the lead on the sixth lap.

Hodnett was so fast that he began lapping top-10 cars midway through the 25 lap event while Smith, ninth starting Fred Rahmer, Todd Shaffer and Lance Dewease trailed.

But with seven laps to go Hodnett attempted to lap sixth-place running Sean Michael. But Michael, who was trying to keep from being lapped, attempted to move around another slower car in his path and drifted up into the path of the race-leading Hodnett. Contact resulted between the two cars, sending Hodnett into the outer guardrail sustaining front-end damage as a result. This handed the lead back to Smith on the race's first caution restart with Rahmer and Shaffer following.

Another lap later Rahmer pulled into the pits with a flat left rear tire moving Shaffer into the runner-up spot.

Smith then pulled away over the final laps to take the checkered and the win by .91 seconds over Shaffer. Fifth starting Dewease finished third followed by Brook Weibley and Michael.

Rounding out the top-10 were Todd Hestor, Len Thompson, Josh Wells, Jason Hagenbuch, and Lance Yonge.

"I think we were just as good as Greg but he got through traffic a lot better," said Smith. "I hated to see him (Hodnett) have bad luck."

"I didn't want to win a race that way. I could hang with him but he was getting through traffic better...that's experience."

In taking the win, Smith gave himself a leg up on his chances at claiming the $10,000 Chip Challenge in the Middleswarth Series. If one driver can win three of the five scheduled events he will take the extra 10G's.

"I want to get two more of these to get that $10,000 but its all luck," Smith added."You need a lot of luck and maybe I have some on my side this year."

Heats for the 28 sprint cars on hand went to Smith, Hodnett and Shaffer, with Wells winning the consolation. Todd Snook, Beward and Peanut Heintzelman took pro stock heats, with Mark Benson winning the consolation event.

WEEKEND CANCELLATIONS

Weekend rain and snow forced the cancellation of all local racing action on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday's cancellations included Lincoln Speedway, Selinsgrove Speedway, Trail-way Speedway, and Hagerstown Speedway. Sunday's cancellations included Williams Grove Speedway and Selinsgrove Raceway Park.

-bill meyer-

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About this article
Series Sprint , Stock car
Teams Williams