By Richard Day ROSSBURG, OH (April 13) -- Friday the 13th turned out to be a very Good Friday for Stevie Smith. Smith, who narrowly missed a 15th-lap crash, led all 25 laps in his first feature victory of the year as the Pennzoil World of ...
By Richard Day
ROSSBURG, OH (April 13) -- Friday the 13th turned out to be a very Good Friday for Stevie Smith.
Smith, who narrowly missed a 15th-lap crash, led all 25 laps in his first feature victory of the year as the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened a double-feature event at Eldora Speedway.
"I'm really happy for my team, even more so than myself," Stevie said graciously. "It's hard to run up and down the road like we do when you're running in the back of the pack. I'm really glad to win one for Chuck Merrill and Maxim Chassis. They've helped us out a bunch this year, and again, I can't say enough about my crew.
"Hopefully, this is a sign we're getting things turned around. Those cars (Brooke Tatnell and Jason Meyers) got together in turn one, and I just threw it sideways to try to miss them. I got into one of them with my right side, so I guess I'm pretty lucky I didn't get a flat (tire)."
Smith, the 10th-fastest qualifier in the 35-car field, was far from flat. After his crew changed the engine in his #19 Ingersoll-Rand Maxim, Smith won every race he ran -- the Third O'Reilly Heat Race, the CHANNELLOCK Dash and the Preliminary Feature.
Smith and Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Danny Lasoski raced wheel-to-wheel down the front straightaway as the green flag fell in the evening's main event. Stevie surged ahead in turn two, but Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year candidates Brad Furr and Jason Meyers tangled with Jim Nier in the second corner, nullifying the start. Nier was unable to restart.
Lasoski drove NASCAR Winston Cup star Tony Stewart's #20L J.D. Byrider Eagle into the lead on the back straightaway on the second start, only to have Furr and Andy Hillenburg collide and bring out the caution flag again.
Smith and "The Dude" raced side-by-side through the first corner on the third start. Lasoski passed Smith with a high move in turn two, but Stevie took the lead with a slide move between the third and fourth corners several seconds later.
The wing supports broke on the #10 U.S. Print/MBNA/Mopar Maxim early in the second lap, causing Dale Blaney to stop. Blaney's crew was unable to repair the car in time to Dale to restart to the race.
While Smith and Lasoski resumed their battle for the lead as the green flag replaced the yellow, Craig Dollansky started making his way to the front. The defending World of Outlaws Gumout Series champion drove Karavan Racing's #7 Polydome Maxim past fast-qualifier Phil Gressman deep in turn three late in the fifth lap, then used an inside move between the first and second corners to pass Sammy Swindell for fifth place the next time around. Donny Schatz collided with Swindell when the #1 CHANNELLOCK Stealth slowed with a flat right rear tire one lap later, but Schatz managed to remain in eighth place.
Smith started building a comfortable advantage as Mark Kinser challenged "The Dude" for second place when the race resumed. Kinser steered the #5M Mopar Maxim into the low groove between turns three and four to pass Lasoski late in the 12th lap. Stevie was four car- lengths ahead of his closest pursuers when he entered lapped traffic the next time around.
Tatnell flipped in the first corner and Meyers collided with him in front of the leaders early in lap 15. Lasoski realized he had a problem with his brakes during the red period.
Ohioan Jac Haudenschild, who started outside the seventh row, took the inside line through turn three to pass Gressman for sixth place on the ensuing restart. Dollansky passed Joey Saldana for fourth with an inside move in the second corner one lap later.
Steve Kinser, winner of 23 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series "A" Features at Eldora Speedway, started outside the ninth row. He steered his #11 Quaker State Maxim to the lowest point in turn four to pass Gressman for eighth place late in the 20th lap.
Mark Kinser surrendered the runner-up spot when he stopped in the third corner with a flat left rear tire with 2 1/3 laps remaining.
Steve Kinser and Schatz exchanged seventh place during lap 23. "The Wild Child" claimed the final automatic qualifying spot in Saturday's CHANNELLOCK Dash by passing Saldana for fourth place in the inside groove between turns one and two early in the 24th lap.
Smith beat "The Dude" under the checkered flag by seven car- lengths. The $5,000 victory moved Stevie from 13th to 10th in the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series point standings.
"I knew Danny would race me pretty clean there at the start, and I just tried to get up on top and get my momentum going as fast as I could," Smith said. "I think Mark would have been pretty tough to hold off in traffic because he could roll around the middle of the speedway a little better than we could, but I'm just glad to get back here (in victory lane)."
Dollansky finished in third place, ahead of Haudenschild, Saldana, Steve Kinser, Schatz, Danny Wood, 22nd-starting Andy Hillenburg and Gressman.