With 18 laps remaining in Saturday’s Pro All Stars Series (PASS) South Super Late Model event at Caraway Speedway, Zane Smith was in position to extend his series point lead with a third victory of the season. On his inside, Trey Jarrell was looking to finish off a strong performance that saw his No. 12 out in front of the field for much of the 125-lap feature at the North Carolina track.
With contact on a fateful restart, neither driver accomplished their goal.
Jarrell, on the inside lane as the race leader, and Smith collided on a lap 107 restart following a Matt Craig stall-out. The contact sent both cars straight for the turn-two wall, with Jarrell’s car riding the wall and coming to a stop atop it. (Editor’s Note: 51 Network cameras caught the entire crash and will have highlights Monday on Speed51.com)
When the two leaders slid up the track and out of contention for the win, the path was cleared for Jared Fryar to score his first career Super Late Model victory.
Fryar, the grandson of two-time Snowball Derby winner Freddy Fryar, slid past the crashing Smith and Jarrell. On the ensuing restart, he swiftly dispatched veteran racer and chassis builder Greg Marlowe and cruised to the checkered flag.
“I knew the 77 (Smith) was going to be hard to beat, but he and the 12 (Jarrell) got tangled down there,” Fryar told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “But man, it just feels so good this first Super Late Model win. It’s awesome.”
While the late-race contact allowed Fryar to knock down the door to PASS South victory lane, it left both Jarrell and Smith on opposite sides of what happened on the restart that changed the face of the race.
“He tried to shut a door that wasn’t quite shut yet and that was the result,” Jarrell said of Smith. “I don’t know really what he was thinking. I don’t think there’s any driver out there that’s going to lift in that scenario. He might’ve had me beat off of turn two if he just ran his line.
“I’ve been racing him now for a couple years and that’s how he normally races. It’s not the first wreck we’ve been in and it probably won’t be the last one if he keeps racing like that.”
Smith saw things differently, but still had a shot to contend for the win even with substantial body damage following the tangle with Jarrell. Smith rifled back through the field after several pit stops to address the damage, but PASS officials had scored him a lap down in the incident with Jarrell. What appeared to be the driver’s march back to second on the track in the race’s final laps was actually a sixth-place finish, one lap down
“I cleared (Jarrell) going into (turn) one and he just drove down in there; crawled up on the side of me,” Smith told 51. “I wasn’t really mad about that because we still had a chance. Coming to the green, they said we were a lap down and that totally just screwed us. It is what it is, I guess. In my eyes, we got second and in the fans’ eyes we got second, so I guess that’s all that matters.”
Jarrell took the lead from early race leader Joey Coulter on lap 60 and began to pull away. Just past lap 100, Smith, who set fast time and started seventh following a re-draw, had worked his way up to second. It wasn’t long after that, however, that Matt Craig slowed to a stop with what the team told 51 could have been either a fuel or ignition issue to bring out the yellow with 18 to go that set up the restart tangle between Smith an Jarrell.
“They told me (Smith) was coming and I tried to step it up a little bit,” said Jarrell. “I didn’t want to let myself get too down about it. I was just thinking ahead, trying to stay calm.
“But then I heard his teammate actually caused the caution, so that’s a little fishy.”
(EDITORS NOTE: Jeff Craig, father to Matt and team principal at JCR3 Racing, clarified to 51 in response to Jarrell’s statement and said that his team are not teammates with Zane Smith.)
Fryar avoided the late-race drama and worked until he was clear of Marlowe for his first SLM win, likely much to the pleasure of his legendary grandfather.
“I’m so relieved,” added Fryar. “After all the races we’ve ran good in and just couldn’t finish and tonight we finally finished. I’m finally starting to fill my grandfather’s shoes that he left me.”
Behind Fryar and Marlowe, Jody Measamer bounced back from lost laps after a lap-one crash to finish third. Brandon Lynn was fourth while R.S. Senter rounded out the top five.
Speed51.com’s 51 Network cameras were on hand for the PASS South 125 at Caraway and will have video highlights of all the action from Caraway Monday.
– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director – Twitter: @MattKentfield
– Photo credits: Speed51.com