Mark Smith Breaks Through at Port Royal; Scores First 410 Win at Port Royal in 8 Years
Port Royal was the lone track to beat the weather on this rainy May weekend. With inclement weather all weekend and moisture in the air, “The Speed Palace” was in full effect as the leaders were running sub-16 second laps in the feature. Mark Smith was handicapped to the pole and was never truly challenged as he led all 25 laps.
Smith started next to Tyler Bear and darted to the lead early as fourth-starting Steve Buckwalter quickly moved into the runner-up spot down the backstretch. Smith methodically worked his way through lap traffic and was on his way to potentially setting a new 25-lap track record before the caution flew for a slowing Chad Trout as Smith was approaching the checkered. This set up a one-lap dash to the finish. Buckwalter looked to the outside on the restart to no avail, which opened the door for a fast closing sixth-starting Rick Lafferty. Lafferty pulled even with Buckwalter but couldn’t complete the pass and settled for third.
Mark Smith has become a jack-of-all-trades in open-wheel racing making an assortment of starts in 410 and 360 winged sprint cars as well as without the wing in USAC competition. Smith already has a marquee win this year in 360 competition at East Bay in Florida that paid $10,000 to win. Smith’s win tonight was his 33rd career 410 sprint car victory at Port Royal, but his first since 2009.
With the World of Outlaws coming to town next weekend, Greg Hodnett desperately needed a good run to build some momentum and got it tonight charging from 17th to fourth. Tyler Bear had a strong night, winning his heat race and crossing the line for his first top five of the season.
Aaron Ott, Dave Blaney – who made his first start of the season in the Motter Motorsports #71M, Mike Wagner, Logan Wagner and Brock Zearfoss rounded out the top ten.
Port Royal Speedway has made numerous upgrades including a brand new scoreboard, extra seating and improved catch fences in recent weeks and tonight they debuted a brand new MUSCO lighting system. The new lights were noticeable in a positive fashion, albeit causing a brief 15-minute delay when they went out in turn one and two.
Rick Singleton won the Super Late Model feature. Tim Smith, Jr., Matt Parks, Austin Berry and Dylan Yoder completed the top five.