Some say it’s better to be lucky than to be good. For Casey Smith, a combination of both skill and luck helped him secure his second Southern Super Series win of 2015 on Saturday night at Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL) in the Rumble By The River 100.
On what was a blistering hot and humid day in the Alabama capital city, several teams struggled to find the right setup in practice on the slick and hot asphalt oval. Series points leader Smith found himself eighth after qualifying, but with the top eight redrawing for starting position, luck would swing his way as he picked the pole for the 100-lap main event.
Defending “Rumble’ winner Bubba Pollard qualified sixth and he was also able to parlay the redraw into a front row starting spot as he lined up alongside Smith for the start of the race.
Smith jumped out to the lead and looked to have the field handled throughout the opening half of the race.
Just one caution slowed the race on lap 30. Smith regained the lead on the restart over Augie Grill who started sixth after struggling in practice, but had worked his way up to battle for the lead on the restart.
Smith opened up a several car length advantage until Grill ran him down near the halfway mark. From there it looked to be Grill’s race to lose.
A combination of lapped traffic and losing grip allowed Smith to close back in on Grill setting up a four lap, side-by-side duel for the lead that saw Smith regain the spot with just over ten laps to go.
While Smith and Grill battled, Daniel Hemric was able to run down the top two and jumped alongside Grill just a lap after Smith had him cleared.
With laps winding down, all eyes were on the battle for second as Grill and Hemric stayed wheel-to-wheel until the white flag, with Hemric claiming the runner up position.
“They said Grill was coming and I just didn’t want to put too much on my right front in case we got a late restart,” Smith said after claiming his second SSS win.
“I tried running up high where (Grill) was running but it made the car tighter so I dropped back down low and was able to run him down.”
While it wasn’t a win, Grill seemed to be fairly satisfied with his podium finish.
“That was a lot of fun,” Grill said of his battles. “We kinda caught lapped traffic there that cost us a couple of times. I don’t know that I would’ve been able to hold them off even without it though.”
Lapped traffic also impacted Hemric’s late-race run, and may have cost him a chance at another win.
“Man we just caught lapped traffic at the wrong time,” Hemric said. “If I could’ve got past Augie sooner I may have had something for (Smith).”
The Kannapolis, North Carolina native was all smiles with his runner-up finish though after traveling overnight from Iowa where he ran in the Camping World Truck Series event the night prior.
With two late side-by-side battles deciding the podium after a grueling 100 laps, all three felt they put on a show, but Hemric may have summed it up best.
“I hope the fans enjoyed that one, that was pretty fun.”
-Southern Super Series Press Release.
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
Southern Super Series
Battle By The River
Saturday June 20, 2015
Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL)
|20||30||Bobby Knox Jr|