SELINSGROVE, Pa.: Mark Smith remembers growing up around Kramer Williamson, bugging him as much as he could at the shop.
It was part of Smith’s education.
That’s what made Saturday night’s Kramer Cup, a race dedicated to the late racing legend, so fitting. Smith honored Williamson and his family the best way possible, by carving out another victory in his honor.
Smith got to the front and withstood some anxious moments in lapped traffic in the closing laps to capture the prestigious Kramer Cup at Selinsgrove Speedway. It was his fourth win in the five-year existence of this event.
“I like the Kramer family,” said Smith, who earned $2,573 for the win. “The Williamson family is a good family. They are diehard racers. All of them.
“Sharon still comes to the races, and so do the other two [Felecia and Kirk]. They are just a good racing family, and this is a good race to win.”
Smith showed speed on the initial start, shooting to the bottom of Turn 1 to advance from third to first. But, J.J. Grasso pounded the cushion in the first and second corner and took the top spot away at the exit of Turn 2.
Grasso was setting a blistering pace at the front of the field. He built a 1.562-second lead by Lap 4, when Michael Walter II slowed on the backstretch.
“I wasn’t really too worried about him getting out front, there,” Smith said. “I’m just happy I got to second off the get go … just ride there and save my tires, and then wait for traffic to make my move.”
The race went back to green, and Grasso took off, building a 1.035-second advantage within one lap. But, Smith kept his eye on the leader and started to close in when Grasso entered lapped traffic on the eighth circuit.
Smith was within .564 seconds by Lap 10. The next time around, he was beside Grasso coming off the second corner and took the lead on the low side of Turn 3.
“Early on, I was moving around and changing my lines,” Smith said. “I was seeing what was there for when we did get to traffic.
“I knew where to go, and he didn’t. He was, basically, just a fish out of water when he got to traffic, and he didn’t know what to do.”
Smith, certainly, did.
While Smith sped away, Chad Layton, who started on the pole and fell back to third, ripped passed Grasso by the completion of Lap 12. He chopped two tenths of a second off Smith’s lead by Lap 15.
Smith was quick, but he was having flashbacks to the week before, when he led the main event and was collected by a backmarker. So, you can imagine what he thought when he came up on a four-pack of cars on Lap 20.
This time, Smith negotiated the gaggle of cars with no problem. Layton did close to within .362 seconds, but Smith was able to gain his composure and stretch his lead to 1.852 seconds by Lap 24.
It seemed like Smith was on cruise control coming to the white flag. That is until five cars were battling for position in front of him entering Turn 1.
Smith lost momentum, and Layton was within striking distance in Turn 2. Things got dicey entering Turn 3, as Mallie Shuster spun and hit the outside wall to bring out the caution.
“I was like, ‘Man, these lapped cars last week got me,’” Smith said. “It wasn’t looking too good, there. I’m like, ‘Geez, don’t do anything.’ At least I wasn’t on the outside of that one, and I was able to get by.”
That was the race.
Smith owned the restart and pulled away over the final circuit to take the win. Layton settled for a second-place run.
“Mark’s always at the top of his game,” Layton said. “If you beat him, you definitely have your game on time. We are just a little off.
“We are getting better. We just have to keep working at it, and hopefully, one of these times we get him.”
Continued Layton, “We keep making improvements, and it’s a whole package. We are starting to get in the hunt. As disappointing as it is, we are still making progress and before too long, the tables will be turned.”
Davie Franek won a fierce three-car battle for the third position, passing Grasso late in the 30-lap event. Ryan Kissinger completed the top five.
Bryan Bernheisel won the make-up Limited Late Model feature. George Dixon Jr. captured the regularly scheduled feature for the class. Shaun Lawton won the Pro Stock feature, with Bob Bussey winning the Roadrunner main.
Feature Finish, 30 Laps: 1. Mark Smith; 2. Chad Layton; 3. Davie Franek; 4. Jason Shultz; 5. Ryan Kissinger; 6. J.J. Grasso; 7. Cody Keller; 8. Derek Locke; 9. Larry Kelleher; 10. Kyle Lick; 11. Adam Carberry; 12. Troy Betts; 13. Nyle Berkes; 14. Ed Aikin; 15. Ryan Linder; 16. Ryan Higgins; 17. Hank Donovan; 18. Jim Shuster; 19. Mallie Shuster; 20. Mike Koehler; 21. John Sharpe; 22. Charlie Anderson; 23. Shane Yost; 24. Brian Nornhold; 25. Michael Walter II.