N.Y.’s Smith wins big one at 10th SuperNationals; Boyertown’s Gular on podium
For the 10th time, the “Working Man’s Race” lived up to its name.
Rusty Smith of Oxford, N.Y., defeated a field of 60 big-block/small-block Modifieds to win the 10th annual American Racer Cup Short Track SuperNationals at Afton Motorsports Park. The win for Smith – worth $5,000 – became an instant career highlight since he made the transition from pavement Modifieds to the dirt running weekly at Afton.
“When this race started, I was in the stands drunk watching like all of you,” Smith said to the enthusiastic crowd. “This is awesome to put my name on the list of SuperNationals winners.”
Beautiful weather brought out the season’s largest crowd at Afton. The fairgrounds facility was bursting at the seams with spectators and race cars for the Saturday program.
Smith thrilled the locals with his performance in the eighth round of the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By VP Halmar International North Region.
“This is what the race is all about,” Smith said. “There are a lot of really, really good cars in the pits, but it gives a guy like me a chance to win a big race.
“I knew after the redraw we had a good combination for the feature. It ended up being really good.”
In a late moment of drama, Duane Howard – who was scheduled to start from the pole of the 50-lap STSS Modified main – was forced to a back-up ride due to contact sustained in the American Racer Cup one-on-one match races earlier in the night.
That put area Sportsman star Kevin Jordan on the point to lead the 29-car field to the green.
It was Delaware star Jordan Watson, however, who powered into the lead by the completion of lap two. As Watson led, Smith shot into second on lap four.
Smith gradually closed on Watson – making his first-ever New York State Modified start – and took over the top spot on the 11th lap.
Pennsylvania smallblock Modified star Mike Gular had picked the worst available number – 13 – in the redraw. Gular was on the charge during the race’s opening laps and put his Terry Fasnacht-owned No. 2 into second on the 15th lap.
Track champion Andy Bachetti also became a factor during the race’s midstages. Bachetti wound his No. 4 up on the topside of the speedway. After an extended side-by-side battle, Sheffield, Mass., star Bachetti cleared Gular on the 30th lap for second.
With lapped traffic looming, Bachetti looked to close on Smith. A yellow – timely for Smith – provided clear track.
After the restart, Smith pulled away while Bachetti was left to battle once again with Gular.
A final yellow on lap 45 gave Bachetti his final shot. Smith was too strong and pulled away to a crowdpleasing checkered.
“I didn’t worry about who was behind me,” Smith said. “I knew what I had to do to be fast.”
Bachetti settled for a runner-up finish but did extend his lead in the STSS Halmar International North Region standings entering the October 19 finale at Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, N.Y.
Boyertown’s Gular – making a rare Empire State start – was a happy podium finisher. The second-generation driver authored his drive utilizing a PA-legal spec head engine.
Inaugural Short Track SuperNationals winner Mike Ricci of Tillson, N.Y., drove a ‘throwback’ No. 17 paint scheme to fourth after starting seventh. Rich Ricci Jr. of New Paltz, N.Y., filled out the front five in the family owned No. 406.
Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were Bobby Varin of Sharon Springs, N.Y., in the Alton and Carole Palmer No. 76 after starting 15th; Nick Nye of Groton, N.Y., after starting 11th; 22nd-starter Billy Pauch Jr. of Milford, N.J., driving the Danny’s Pizza Pizzazz No. 51; early leader Watson of Milford, Del; and track regular Brett Tonkin of Carbondale, Pa.
Heat winners were Rich Ricci Jr., Nick Rochinski, Watson, Gular, Allison Ricci and Nye. Three consolations set the remainder of the field with Mitch Gibbs, Cory Costa and Pauch Jr. annexing the 10lap victories.
Representing Bridgeport (N.J.) Speedway, Ryan Watt of Boyertown, topped the American Racer Cup Champion’s Challenge oneon-one match races. Watt defeated Duane Howard in the final round for the $2,000 payday.