The summer of 2018 has been very kind to home track drivers in the Northern Region of the Short Track Super Series. After Stewart Friesen swept the two opening races, the proceeding four races have been won by drivers who call the particular track home on Friday or Saturday nights.
One of the drivers who successfully defended his home turf was Jeremy Smith. Smith won the Afton Action 50 at Afton Motorsports Park (NY) back in July and is known as a usual face during the Friday night season there. On Saturday nights, Smith stays closer to his home of Triangle, New York at Center Lisle’s Thunder Mountain Speedway, the next stop on the Short Track Super Series schedule.
Despite a number of wins on “The Mountain” this season, Smith came up just four points short of the championship and just missed out on winning the Wade Decker Memorial last weekend. This Sunday, he hopes to once again work that home track advantage as the STSS rolls in for the (postponed from May) Lightning on the Mountain event.
“It definitely helps out being our home track. Thunder Mountain is probably the premier track in the southern tier of New York,” Smith told Speed51.com. “I love having these races there. It would be great to get a win, I was hoping we could have gotten one last weekend, but we made some adjustments that didn’t go in our favor. So hopefully we can get back in the zone this Sunday.”
The home track streak in the North began with STSS full-timer Jerry Higbie winning at his home track of Accord Speedway (NY) in early July, after which Smith won at Afton. The streak went to three with part-timer Billy Van Pelt snatching victory at Woodhull Raceway (NY), and most recently Albany-Saratoga Speedway (NY) regular Marc Johnson winning the last time the North Region competed in August.
Smith feels that the home dominance can be attributed to two main components.
“It’s the Short Track Super Series. Brett Deyo brings in the big guys, but he also goes to tracks that full-time guys run at and run very well. When the touring guys come in, they don’t have as much of an advantage,” Smith explained.
“Also, sometimes with 50-lap races, the track and the cars aren’t much different than a Saturday night race of 30 laps. I’m not saying anything negative about 100-lap races, it’s just what a lot of touring guys are used to running, where fifty is not much different than a Saturday night, so it’s a bit of an equalizer for the local guys.”
With equal footing, it is only appropriate that Smith’s two-car operation combines the best of both worlds, with himself in the No. 46 and longtime Dirt Modified veteran Billy Decker piloting the team car with his familiar No. 91.
While scoring success as an owner/driver, Smith has also had some success purely as an owner in 2018, with a consistent year by Decker giving him the points lead with three races to go. Morale is high around Decker’s run and has given the team confidence that Decker will join Smith in the win column before too much longer.
“We were a little disappointed we didn’t get the track championship at Thunder Mountain, but we’ve had around eight wins this year. Billy leading the points has been nice, but we’d like to get him in the win column soon. I really think that day is coming. I got to drive his car two weeks ago at Thunder Mountain, and I think we got the bugs worked out of it. Hopefully when he gets in it Sunday, it will be the way he likes it,” Smith said confidently.
Now if Decker were to win against Smith head to head, Smith would be perfectly alright with it, as Decker has done more than just rack up points in the STSS.
“I wouldn’t be getting those early season wins if it wasn’t for Billy Decker and a lot his knowledge that he’s had over the years. So I’m returning the favor when it comes to this series to try and get him to be the best. We got two cars that are running up front and will hopefully have a shot at winning at the end of the day.”
Dirt Modified fans unable to make the trip to Thunder Mountain Speedway can watch all of the racing action via a live video stream on the Speed51 Network. Sunday’s broadcast will be available for free to Speed51 Network premium subscribers. If you’re not a premium subscriber, click here to become one today.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos