N.Y.’s Smith wins big one at 10th Su­perNa­tion­als

The Southern Berks News - - SPORTS - By Brett Deyo For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

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 oneon-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 small-block 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 10-lap vic­to­ries.

Rep­re­sent­ing Bridge­port (N.J.) Speed­way, Ryan Watt of Boy­er­town, topped the Amer­i­can Racer Cup Cham­pion’s Chal­lenge one-on-one match races. Watt de­feated Duane Howard in the fi­nal round for the $2,000 pay­day.

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