WSS: Warrnambool Report

Hoosier "Hall of Famer" Smith Scores Scintillating Win >From the World Series Sprintcars web-site - http://www.racefan.net.au/wss/ Warrnambool, Vic - Dec 7, 1996).....With the news that he has just been inducted into the Hoosier Auto...

Hoosier "Hall of Famer" Smith Scores Scintillating Win

>From the World Series Sprintcars web-site - http://www.racefan.net.au/wss/

Warrnambool, Vic - Dec 7, 1996).....With the news that he has just been inducted into the Hoosier Auto Racing Fan's "Hall of Fame" alongside such luminaries as Steve and Karl Kinser, Danny Smith (Danville, Indiana) opened his winning account on the 1996/97 World Series Sprintcars Championship with victory in Round 5 at Warrnambool's Premier Speedway. Smith becomes the fourth different driver to win one of the four completed rounds in the most competitive contest in the 10-year history of Australia's premier national sprintcar series.

The 30-lap A-Feature began in bizarre circumstances when local hero Max Dumesny and young Bunbury (WA) star Darryl Krikke spun to a halt after contact during the four-wide parade lap, Krikke withdrawing with steering failure while Dumesny went from the fourth to the last row of the 16-car field! The incident elevated Smith alongside Goodyear Eagle Dash winner Brooke Tatnell but the pair almost triggered a massive start-line crash when they rubbed wheels and slewed sideways in front of the pack. Smith later described the near-miss as, "we took off together and I wasn't letting him (Brooke) get up track so we rubbed wheels and got stuck together - luckily it worked out that we both got back on- track without losing too many places.

National champion Todd Wanless inherited the lead only to see Smith scortch past on the highline before the end of the second lap at which time a caution flew for the stranded Andrew Scheuerle. At the restart Smith headed Wanless, Auto Action Fast Time winner (three in succession) Skip Jackson, Tatnell and local Warrnambool driver Phil Johnson. With only five laps completed Dumesny had charged back through the field on the wickedly fast, hooky high banked oval to run eighth! As Smith made good his escape from the nearest pursuers, the three-way battle between Wanless, Jackson and Tatnell provided an entertaining scrap that was only resolved in the defending WSS champion's favour on lap 25. By that time, Dumesny had loomed into contention, overtaking Wanless to zero in on third-placed Jackson at race's end. Smith was being rapidly caught by Tatnell at the finish, conceding that, "this was a really physically demanding track tonight."

Tatnell described his battle with Wanless and Jackson as, "enjoyable - but disappointing that we weren't racing for the lead. The car was fast at the end but we had to plug away after the problem at the start which dropped me down to fourth." Dumesny was more frustrated saying, "I'm pretty disappointed with the whole situation, everything that could have gone against us did tonight. We got run over at the restart in a heat which made us miss the Dash and then got caught up in the four-wide formation mess."

Wanless was happy to bounce back from a hard crash in the Dash which saw several other crews volunteer to help replace a broken front axle, radius rods, right rear wheel and tyre, Jacob's Ladder an both wings. A malfunctioning bleeder valve hindered his late race progress but Wanless admitted, "mentally this track is so entirely different to anything else I've come across. It's not just the speed which gets to you, it is the way the track constantly changes - it is emotionally, physically and mentally draining!"

The consistent Jackson dropped behind Smith in the point standings but said later, "I'm grateful I didn't get involved in the formation crash or when Danny and Brooke got out of shape. We had a good hard, clean race and will think about it and come back stronger." Round 6 takes place at Avalon International Raceway (Geelong) next Saturday, December 14, 1996.

-- Brian Hennings TEAM RACEFAN - http://www.racefan.net.au/racefan.html WORLD SERIES SPRINTCARS - http://www.racefan.net.au/wss/ hennings@racefan.net.au

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Series Sprint
Drivers Brooke Tatnell