TAMPA, Fla. — Round two of the 17th annual King of the 360’s and 14th Ronald Laney Memorial saw Tennessee’s Jason Sides lead flag-to-flag at East Bay Raceway Park with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by MAVTV American Real.
Drawing the pole in the night’s 25-lap feature event, the 2002 Ronald Laney Memorial winner was pressured on the highline by Mark Smith on the opening lap, but was able to keep the Pennsylvania ace at bay.
“The bottom was the place to be, but Mark had a pretty good start there. I spun the tires, and may have got into him a little bit there, but that was the key to the whole race was getting a good start and not making any mistakes.”
Finding traffic by the Lap 5, Sides found clear racetrack two laps later as Thomas Kennedy spun to a stop in the fourth turn. Pulling away from Smith on the restart, it didn’t take long to again find the back of the field.
Pacing around traffic, Sides didn’t lose his edge, crossing 5.204 seconds ahead of Mark Smith for his first preliminary night victory in the King of the 360’s.
Putting together a pair of podium finishes, Smith is locked into Saturday’s $10,000 to win feature event. Smith alluded to that in his interview, “I could have maybe tried a little harder to roll Jason there at the beginning on the outside because I wasn’t bad there; but I just had too much to lose tomorrow, so I figured I just drop in and ride it out and hopefully we can get this track better for tomorrow.”
Improving one spot from Thursday night, Brad Loyet grabbed the final podium step, and in doing so, also put himself directly into Saturday A-Feature event, “We’ll see what happens here. We just need to go for it tomorrow. Being locked into the show, we’ll be in good position.”
Jeff Swindell crossed fourth with Thursday night’s winner, Aaron Reutzel coming from 10th to fifth to earn high points between the two prelim nights.
Despite the narrow racing groove, Greg Hodnett blazed a path from 22nd to sixth. Tony Bruce, Jr. seventh with Wayne Johnson, Terry McCarl, and Johnny Herrera completing the top-ten.
With preliminary nights in the books, the top-six are locked into Saturday’s 40-lap, $10,000 to win A-Feature. Aaron Reutzel, Mark Smith, Brad Loyet, Jeff Swindell, Terry McCarl, and Greg Hodnett will re-draw for their starting positions inside the first three rows.
-Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Car Dirt Series Press Release. Photo credit: Allan Holland