By admin | October 16, 2011
By Richard Allen
It had been three years since Vic Hill had last raced at the Smoky Mountain Speedway but on Saturday night in the Southern Regional Racing Series season finale he looked as if he was on his home track. In the process, the Mosheim, Tennessee driver took home $3,000 for the win as well as a $500 bonus for scoring the most combined points from last night’s race at the Boyd’s Speedway and this event.
Both of those races made up the “Tearin’ The Tops Off” mini-series in which cars ran without their roofs attached.
Hill established himself as a serious threat for the victory immediately when he posted a qualifying lap of 15.882 seconds in qualifying. That proved to be fastest of all 26 cars to time-trial on the 4/10 mile clay oval located just outside Maryville, Tennessee.
The SRRS locks in two cars from each of the two groups to attempt qualifying. Tommy Kerr and Chad Ogle were fastest in Group A while Hill and Mark Douglas were quickest in Group B.
Jacob Grizzle and Chad Winkles won the two heat races held on Saturday night.
At the start of the 35 lap feature, Hill shot to the lead from his inside front row starting spot and was never really challenged from that point on. But behind the leader there was some intense racing. In particular, teammates Tommy Kerr and Billy Ogle, Jr. spent at least ten laps in the race’s early going disputing the 3rd spot. Finally, at lap 15 Ogle wrested the position away from Kerr and continued his march forward from his 9th starting place.
Skip Arp and Mark Douglas also found themselves in the middle of battles within the top-5. Multiple cautions within the race’s first 23 laps allowed for a good deal of shuffling among the 2nd through 5th positions.
With 15 laps to go, Ogle had made his way up to 2nd and looked to renew his battle from the previous night at Boyd’s when he and Hill comprised the top-2 in that SRRS event. However, Douglas suffered a problem on lap 23 as he and Arp raced for 3rd. That caused officials to display the final yellow flag of the night when the #52D car came to a halt in turn four.
On the ensuing Delaware double-file restart, Ogle chose the inside line as he and Arp lined up side by side behind Hill. When the green flag dropped, Hill again bolted to the lead and Arp was able to beat Ogle through turns one and two.
From that point, the race ran caution free as Hill powered to a big lead and the eventual victory. Arp held Ogle off for 2nd with Kerr and Chad Ogle rounding out the top-5.
Josh Putnam’s 9th place finish secured for him the SRRS season championship.
“It’s great to be back here at Smoky Mountain,” Hill declared. “It’s a big, fast race track and I damn sure like this kind of track.”
Meanwhile, Billy Ogle, Jr. lamented his lane choice on the final restart. “I wish I could’ve held on to second,” he said. “I chose the inside on the last restart and Skip got a good run on the outside.”
That choice allowed Hill to collect the $500 bonus as his finishes of 2nd and 1st over the two night double header bested Ogle’s runs of 1st and 3rd. Ogle did pick up a $300 addition for scoring the second most points in the two races.
In the $2,000 to win Crate Late Model race, Greg Martin led all 30 laps for the second race in a row at Smoky Mountain. His closest calls came in lapped traffic and only briefly after a couple of restarts. Jake Teague, Mark Vineyard, Chris Wilson and Scott Sexton followed the Eric Jacobsen crew member to the finish.
Warren McMahan outran Mitchell Childress and Bradley Lewelling in the $1,200 to win Modified Street feature.