HICKORY, NC — Mt. Airy, NC’s John Smith played the pit strategy game correctly again to claim his fourth Southern Modified Racing Series (SMRS) presented by PASS win Saturday night at Hickory Motor Speedway in the Hickory 125. With his win, Smith and Burt Myers are unofficially tied for the series points lead heading to the season-ending Kenny Minter Memorial 125 on October 22 at Caraway Speedway.
“Yeah, we sat there and took care of our tires for the first 50 or 75 laps and my guys are good on pit road and I made a deal with them that if they got me out first that I thought we could win and luckily we did,” said Smith, driver of the Mumy Financial #25. “Going to Caraway, we’ve just got to race our hearts out. Burt [Myers] is a helluva racer and we’ve just got to go at it and let the chips fall where they may.”
For the fourth time this year, Brandon Ward was able to capture the Precision Built Spindles Pole Award with a lap of 14.371 seconds (90.933 MPH) around the 66-year-old facility. But, after the top six qualifiers redraw, Bobby Measmer, Jr. and Burt Myers would move to the front row, while Ward would move back to the fifth starting position.
At the drop of the green, Measmer would move to the point, before Tom Buzze would flex his muscle and move into the lead on lap 7. The leaders would go back-and-forth over the first 50 laps, exchanging the lead amongst Buzze, Measmer, and Ward at least 12 times. The first caution of the night waved on lap 46 for debris giving teams the first opportunity to pit for tires. The only taker on this round of stops would be Scott Hall.
Back under way, Buzze continued to lead, with Burt Myers leading for a short stint from laps 52 through 56. Buzze opened up more than a straightaway advantage before the caution waved again for debris with 37 laps to go. All the leaders would use this opportunity to pit for tires, with the exception of Hall who had pitted earlier.
Back under green, the cars with fresher tires quickly disposed of Hall, as Smith assumed the lead for the first time on lap 91. With 23 laps to go, B. Myers nearly saw his championship hopes slip away as he spun off turn four while battling for third due to a broken axle. Luckily for B. Myers, Buzze, Darren Shaw, and Dan Speeney tangled in turn two causing an extended caution that allowed the #1 team to replace the axle without losing a lap.
Smith continued to lead, but was being pressured heavily by Ward. But, with 7 laps to go, Ward fell off the pace with a mechanical problem, allowing Smith to cruise on for the win over Jason Myers, B. Myers, Measmer, and Andy Jankoiak. Rounding out the top 10 were Buzze, the Mod Lite winner, Hall, Ward, Speeney, and Shaw.
The Southern Modified Racing Series Presented By PASS will be in action again on Saturday night, October 22 at Caraway Speedway for the Kenny Minter Memorial 125 season finale.
-Southern Modified Racing Series Press Release
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com