Practice at Crisp Motorsports Park for CRA SpeedFest is usually very eventful.  In 2016 about three cars went off track and into the watermelon patch that sits behind turns three and four. Friday’s practice for this year’s CRA SpeedFest was a bit calmer, however, as just one car ran off track.  A calmer practice meant mostly happy drivers and crews, except for one team.

 

Zane Smith was the lone car that made an off-track excursion on Friday evening.  Smith went off track on his final run of the day.  His final run was meant to be a mock-qualifying run, but Smith never made it around to start his run.

 

300x250 SpeedFest 2017 PPV“I guess the temperatures dropped a lot,” Smith said.  “I went into three and four and I just did what I usually do where I crank the wheel and let it run up the race track.  It’s just like it wouldn’t turn at all and then it went right up over the hill.  We caught that wet grass and then there’s no slowing it down.”
Fortunately for Smith, his car didn’t make it to the creek as the patch has come to known as thanks to the new addition of a tire barrier a few feet ahead of the famous creek.

 

“Thankfully they put tires out there or I would have ended up in that (creek),” said Smith.  “If those weren’t there we definitely would have ended up in it and that would have been a huge mess.”

 

Smith's Fury Race Cars teammate, Snowball Derby champion Christian Eckes, had a frustrating Friday as well.  Eckes didn't find the creek, but he did have to bring out a backup car.  While his primary car, known as "Ole Henry" didn't have a scratch on it, Eckes said they just weren't happy with how it was performing.

 

"We just want to try the other car and see if it might be better," said Eckes.  "This is the car that won us the Snowball Derby, but it just does not like this race track.  It's been too tight all day long.  We'll see what the other car has and then compare."

The new tire barrier behind turns three and four. (Speed51.com/Heath Lawson photo)

The new tire barrier behind turns three and four. (Speed51.com/Heath Lawson photo)

 

Chris Dilbeck, a former track champion at Crisp Motorsports Park, said that he appreciates the fact that there’s now a barrier there, but he said it’s something he’s not focusing on too much as the weekend goes on.

 

“Honestly, I try to focus as little as I can on the outside of the race track,” explained Dilbeck.  “I don’t want that to be a place that I begin focusing on and then end up in.  But I think that the changes that this race track have made are all great.  Mr. Lyles has done a great job making this place more competitor friendly and fan friendly.  The updates that he’s made to the creek as everybody likes to call it is a good thing for a lot of these racers.”

 

What Dilbeck has decided to place his focus on is being fast, and that’s something he accomplished on Friday.  Dilbeck was near the top of the board for much of Friday in both the Super Late Model and the Pro Late Model.  Dilbeck said he expected to be fast in the Pro car, but his speed in the Super surprised him a little bit.

 

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“We had a good day today,” Dilbeck said.  “I was surprised with the Super.  That’s the first time I’d ever run a Fat Head Racing car for Jamie Yelton.  I’m just really happy with it and I think we’ll be really good.  Now if the driver can hold up his part of the deal then we should be able to be top five in qualifying.”

Burton led all but one of the five practice sessions on Friday. (Speed51.com/Heath Lawson photo)

Burton led all but one of the five practice sessions on Friday. (Speed51.com/Heath Lawson photo)

 

At the end of the day it was Chandler Smith at the top of the board in Pro Late Model practice with a fast lap of 16.110 seconds.

 

Meanwhile in Super Late Model practice it was Harrison Burton with the fastest overall time of 15.729 seconds.  Burton led all but one of the five Super Late Model practice sessions on Friday afternoon.

 

“It was a really good start,” said Burton.  “This is our first event with Fury Race Cars.  We just need to keep improving.  Sometimes it’s really easy when you’re that fast to lay back and end early, but you’ve always got to find ways to get better because someone else is out there trying to be faster than we are.”

Chris Dilbeck was one of the faster Pro Late Models in Friday's practices. (Speed51.com photo)

Chris Dilbeck was one of the faster Pro Late Models in Friday's practices. (Speed51.com photo)

 

The only driver that went faster than Burton at any point on Friday was Brandon Setzer.  Setzer led the way in the final round of practice on Friday evening.

 

“That was awesome,” said Setzer.  “I was glad to be at the top of the board.  We were second to Burton a few times throughout the day.  We just played it like everybody else.  We were all just chasing Burton.  But we kept changing things, man.  We changed three things every practice.  We just kept getting better.  Everything tries seemed like it helped.  Usually if one thing out of 10 that you try helps then you’ve had a great day.  So I’m really car with our car right now.  I’m really excited about this weekend.”

 

For an on-demand replay of Friday’s Trackside Now coverage presented by PFC Brakes and JRI Shocks, click here.

 

Speed51.com will have more from Friday’s practice day on the Speed51 Network.  To subscribe to the Speed51 Network, click here.

 

-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount

-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Heath Lawson Photo

 

ARCA/CRA Super Series

Crisp Motorsports Park, Cordele, Georgia

SpeedFest 200 Overall Practice Results

1 12 Harrison   Burton 15.729
2 6 Brandon Setzer 15.745
3 7 Casey   Roderick 15.861
4 26S Chandler Smith 15.863
5 77 Zane   Smith 15.895
6 9 Chris Dilbeck 15.910
7 20 Erik   Jones 15.927
8 26 Bubba Pollard 15.927
9 51 Stephen   Nasse 15.952
10 15 Christian Eckes 15.960
11 83 Scotty   Ellis 15.971
12 99 Raphael Lessard 15.976
13 23 Spencer   Gallagher 15.981
14 01 Derek Scott Jr. 15.987
15 97P Chase   Purdy 15.988
16 84 Martin Latulippe 15.988
17 9C Jeff   Choquette 16.010
18 29 Spencer Davis 16.050
19 15T Austin Thaxton 16.051
20 5 Jerry Artuso 16.100
21 8 Jordan Pruitt 16.114
22 33 Brandon Jones 16.124
23 10 Steve Dorer 16.197
24 14 Connor Okrzesik 16.229
25 98 Justin Ashburn N/A
26 81 Anthony Campi N/A
27 41 Hunter Jack N/A
28 8F Tate Fogleman N/A
29 4M Kyle McCallum N/A
30 4 Jay Fogleman N/A

 

 

JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour

Crips Motorsports Park, Cordele, Georgia

SpeedFest 125 Overall Practice Results

1 26 Chandler   Smith 16.110
2 18 Casey Roderick 16.111
3 24 Christopher   Tullis 16.138
4 114 Sterling Marlin 16.143
5 9 Chris   Dilbeck 16.144
6 46 Cole Williams 16.151
7 4 Kyle   McCallum 16.168
8 14 Carson Hocevar 16.218
9 21J Brandon   Johnson 16.256
10 20 Jack Dossey III 16.292
11 83 Andy   Bozell 16.302
12 38 Hunter Byrd 16.337
13 53 Kyle   Ivey 16.339
14 12 Joe Graf Jr. 16.348
15 23 Dalton   Grindle 16.367
16 11 Jordan McCallum 16.381
17 04 Phil   Bozell 16.404
18 22 Brandon Herbert 16.422
19 21 Ryan Herbert 16.519
20 10 Steve Dorer 16.533
21 30 Joshua James 16.546
22 32 Stuart Dutton 16.552
23 34 Nolan Pope 16.577
24 43 Justin South 16.601
25 127 David Strode 16.775
26 48 Kent Crane 16.806
27 27 Joe Ross 16.827
28 25 Terry Smith 17.116
29 30K Bobby Knox Jr. N/A
30 18P Ryan Paul N/A

 

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Burton Shows Speed as Smith Goes Off Track at SpeedFest Practice