By MIKE MALLETT
SELINSGROVE, PA- Mark Smith ended T.J. Stutts domination of Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint (ESS) events at the Selinsgrove Speedway on Saturday night as he captured the Mach 1 Chassis Spectacular, E&V Energy Tour of America 25-lap A-Main event. The win allowed Smith to pocket the $3,175 top prize.
“Feels pretty good to win some of our money back when we sponsor these races,” joked Smith. “We like winning but we like when other guys win it, but once in a while it’s nice to win it back yourself too.”
Smith started on the inside of the fourth row as Stutts jumped out to the lead from his front row starting position at the green flag. Stutts maintained that advantage over the first few laps before the red flag came out for an incident in the third corner before lap three could be completed.
Duane Mausteller and Jamie Collard made heavy contact in the third turn with both drivers being transported to the GeisingerMedicalCenter in Danville, Pa., with undisclosed injuries. Shawn Donath, who came in as the series point leader, was also involved in the crash but he was able to escape injury.
Action resumed after a delay with Stutts picking up right where he left off at the front of the field. He showed the way as Smith made his way forward. Stutts found slower traffic on lap eight and worked it for just two laps when caution was again shown as Joe Trenca came to a stop on the backstretch on lap 10.
On the ensuing restart Smith jumped to second and set his sights on Stutts. Stutts went to the outside of turns three and four allowing Smith to pull a slider as they exited the corner. As they came down the front straightaway contact was made between the two which sent Stutts spinning into turn one causing another yellow.
“I was going to the bottom there and I felt him (Stutts) rub me a little bit there with the left rear to I went to the right,” stated Smith about the contact between the two. “I guess it didn’t work out too well for him. I didn’t mean anything, didn’t try to wreck him. I was heading to the bottom; it was just a bad situation.”
Smith was unfazed when the race got back underway as he opened up the advantage on the competing. Multi-time champion and Selinsgrove career win leader Pat Cannon moved into second and began to close in on Smith as the race reached the final third.
One final caution slowed the field on lap 20 as Stutts night ended with a hard hit to the frontstretch wall on lap 20. Stutts came off of the fourth turn and it appeared something broke in the front end causing him to veer right into the wall. He was uninjured in the incident.
The caution setup one final double-file restart in which Smith again was able to get the jump. He raced away for his first career Empire Super Sprint series win.
“There is always concerns when you go double-file because we don’t do them very often,” commented Smith. “You never know where to be or where to do your starts. I tried both, seemed like I was okay on the top or the bottom.”
As Smith drove away on the restart, a torrid three car battled ensued between Jason Shultz, Cody Keller and Cannon. Smith earned the win with Shultz just getting by Keller in the final two circuits to come home in the runner-up position.
“Mark (Smith) gave me the opportunity, he gave me the outside lane on the restart,” said Shultz. “We had stumble a little bit and that gave him the momentum. Then I just had to fend off the rest of the crew. We are happy to finish second. You always want to win because if you don’t you feel like you came up short, but we’re happy about it.”
Keller, of Selinsgrove, Pa., started fourth in the field and made his as high as second before being forced to settle for the third place finish in his No. 99k.
Cannon, of Etters, Pa., secured fourth at the line while Steve Poirier, the defending ESS champion, advanced from 17th to complete the top five at the checkered flag. Rounding out the top ten were, Etienne Girard, Steve Collins, Chuck Hebing, Jason Barney and Paul Kinney.
ESS/Selinsgrove Notes – A nice field of 31 sprints in the pits played host to Selinsgrove biggest crowd of the year…Mechanical problems in the heats claimed Aaron Ott, Blane Heimbach and Steve Hutchinson who did not answer the call for the B-Main…Jessica Zemken had engine woes in the John Westbrook ride and used her Hills Racing, Ohsweken ride the rest of the night…Dave Wickham made his first Selinsgrove start in over 30 years….A Big Memorial Day Weekend is on tap with three shows, Albany-Saratoga, Fonda and Utica-Rome.
25-Lap Lucas Oil ESS/Mach 1 Chassis A-Main: 1) 1 Mark Smith $3,175 2) 29 Jason Shultz 3) 99K Cody Keller 4) 3 Pat Cannon 5) 28P Steve Poirier 6) 422 Etienne Girard 7) 67 Steve Collins 8) 45 Chuck Hebing 9) 87 Jason Barney 10) 19K Paul Kinney 11) 10 Jeff Cook 12) 71 Jessica Anderson 13) 61 Parker Evans 14) 13 Kevin Ward Jr. 15) 23 TJ Stutts 16) 33W Michael Walter II 17) 2 Dave Axton 18) 90 Matt Tanner 19) 98 Joe Trenca 20) 77Z Jessica Zemken 21) 7X Jamie Collard 22) 21 Duane Mausteller 23) 53 Shawn Donath 24) 66 Ryan Kissinger
Did Not Qualify – Blane Heimbach, Aaron Ott, Dan Mazy, Tim Axton, Patrick Vigneault, Steve Hutchinson, Dave Wickham.
Car Mate Custom Built Trailer Heat 1 – Stutts, Smith, Evans, Barney, Kinney, AndersonCar Mate Custom Built Trailer Heat 2 – Ward Jr., Keller, Collard, Cannon, Shultz, Poirier
Car Mate Custom Built Trailer Heat 3 – Girard, Trenca, Walter, Donath, Collens, Mausteller
Dave Franek Auto Sales/Cobra Coaches Dash – Stutts
Lacaillade Masonry B-Main – Hebing, Tanner, Kissinger, Cook.
Provisionals – Zemken, D. Axton.
Westward Painting Company Halfway – Smith $100
Insinger Performance Hard Charger – Shultz (12 pos.) $50
Fondations 55 Pick 5 – Poirier $50
Lacaillade Masonry B-Main – Hebing $50
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heats – Stutts, Ward Jr., Girard $25
Bitner Automotive Blistering Fast Time Award – Hebing $25
Go Nuclear Late Model Go-Fast Award –
The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints are brought to you by: Lucas Oil, Mach 1 Chassis, SUNY Canton, E&V Energy, Le Groupe Ultra, SUNY Canton, Hoosier Racing Tires, Insinger Performance, Fondations 4 Saisons, Cobra Coaches, Westward Painting Company, Fondations 55, Einstein Construction Group, Camara Slate, North Eastern Pool and Spa, Car Mate Trailers, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Ohsweken Speedway, Lacaillade Masonry, FX Chevy and many, many associate sponsors!!