Myrtle Beach Speedway is all about tire conservation. The abrasive surface at the half-mile track on the coast of South Carolina chews apart tires in just a few laps. Saving tires over the course of a 100-lap race is a task that usually is best met by veteran drivers. That was the case during the $10,000-to-win CARS Super Late Model Tour event Saturday. But it almost wasn’t.
If the race was 105 laps long, Georgia teenager Chandler Smith may have gotten by 49-year-old Jeff Fultz. But the race wasn’t 105 laps long, and he didn’t. Fultz held off the hard-charging youngster to take home a cool $10,000 check on a day that wasn’t just cool, but instead was downright cold.
“This means the world,” said Fultz in victory lane. “This is what we do this for. I don’t really have time to do this much and when I do I don’t have good luck. Today we had good luck and that was the biggest thing.”
Over the course of the last 15 laps, Fultz had to hold off the red and black No. 26 of Chandler Smith. Smith looked inside and outside of Fultz numerous times but wasn’t able to get a good enough run off the corners to make a move for the lead stick.
“He fought me hard. He’s a great little driver and he’s developing more and more each year,” said Fultz. “He ran me clean. My car got a little bit tight with the two tires. I could just hold him at pace. I needed to do a better job there at the end. I started watching my mirror and then making mistakes and that let him get back to me. I’ve got to thank him for running me clean. He raced me clean and it’s a pleasure to race with those guys and have some fun.”
When Molly Helmuth’s crash brought upon a restart with five laps to go, it appeared as though Smith would have his chance to maybe rough Fultz up just a touch to take the lead and go on to take the win. However, Smith didn’t do that, and as Fultz said, Smith raced Fultz clean and settled for second-place.
“I really just couldn’t finish the pass up off of four,” explained Smith. “I felt like if I could have gotten down the front straightaway and went off into one and two side-by-side then I would have completed the pass. He just had a better car in three and four than me. I felt like we were stronger than everybody, but we just couldn’t roll enough momentum off the corners to be honest.”
Smith said he was satisfied with a runner-up finish after an early crash took him out of the Rattler 250 for the Southern Super Series at South Alabama Speedway one week ago.
“It makes me feel really good especially that we’re loading this back up in one piece. This is my favorite car that we have at the shop so I’m really happy that it’s in one piece. I feel like this is good momentum going to Pensacola next with the Super. We’ll be good there.”
Throughout the course of a green-flag run, the pace slowed drastically by nearly eight seconds as drivers tried to hang onto what little bit of rubber was still left underneath them. Smith said he was surprised by how slow he had to go to have anything left for the end.
“I wasn’t expecting to use five-percent throttle down the straightaways to be honest with you,” Smith said with a laugh. “My leg started feeling a little numb there, but it was really fun. I kind of like those races. It puts some strategy into it.”
Ryan Moore came down from Maine to finish third. Jeff Batten and Anthony Cataldi completed the top five.
For an on-demand replay of Saturday’s Trackside Now coverage presented by HMS Motorsport, click here.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
CARS Super Late Model Tour 100
Myrtle Beach Speedway, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
1 54F Jeff Fultz
2 26C Chandler Smith
3 74M Ryan Moore
4 49 Jeff Batten
5 OO Anthony Cataldi
6 51L Raphael Lessard
7 78 Corey Heim
8 14F Jared Fryar
9 56 Gus Dean
10 54 Matt Craig
11 98 Jody Measmer
12 45 Kodie Conner
13 47 Chris Fontaine
14 8 Tate Fogleman
15 16 Molly Helmuth
16 7S Taylor Stricklin
17 33P Preston Peltier