SELINSGROVE, Pa.: Mark Smith doesn’t get too concerned if someone gets by him at the start of a feature event.
Or on a restart, for that matter.
Instead of getting rattled or overdriving the car, Smith settles in and lets the race play out. If he gets passed, he simply focuses on the next lap and waits for the right opportunity to make a move.
That didn’t happen Saturday night at Selinsgrove Speedway. Smith didn’t have to worry about anyone getting by. No one was close.
Smith had one dicey restart. Otherwise, he dominated the 30-lap United Racing Club main event and captured his third Kramer Cup in four tries, which added a nice $2,573 to his wallet.
“It was too slow for me to start on the bottom, so that is why I took the outside,” said Smith of all the double-file restarts. “It’s just the way we have our car set up … I need to get the track as wide as I can.
“I don’t really care if they pass me on the first lap, because we are going to drive by them on the next lap. That is why I kind of left that open on the bottom. That was their choice, and they couldn’t beat us off the start anyway.”
Greg Hodnett was slated to start fourth but got off a little quick on the start and was put back a row. On the complete restart, it came as no surprise that Smith jumped out front over Derek Locke and Davie Franek.
Smith pulled out to a 1.5-second lead in a hurry. That was wiped out on Lap 6, when Brett Michalski ended up in the fourth turn fence. Nate Snyder was also involved in the red flag incident.
The first double-file restart was on tap, and Smith chose the top. He stumbled a bit on the start but still managed to pull ahead of Locke. Larry Kelleher made a big move on the outside to blow by Greg Hodnett and take fourth.
Michalski, who returned to the main event, brought out the caution again on Lap 7, when he spun on the frontstretch. Smith dominated the restart, again, pulling ahead of Kelleher, who moved from fourth to second in the running order.
While Smith pulled away, Hodnett got moving. He picked off Locke for third on Lap 8 and started to track down Kelleher as the field entered lapped traffic on the 12th circuit.
Smith built a 1.903-second lead by Lap 15. One lap later, Eric Tomecek rolled to a stop on the frontstretch, which forced another wild restart.
This time, the high-flying Kelleher couldn’t make anything happen. He remained in second but saw his chance at victory come to an end when he shredded a tire in Turn 1 on Lap 19, which also forced a fuel stop.
Again, Smith had to fight off a challenger. Hodnett was on the inside when the race went green, but the Sunbury ace was too much, as he buzzed around the outside in a three-car battle through Turn 1.
“If you get someone that comes in front of you, you just let them go,” Smith said. “Some guys don’t know that, but you let them go and get them the next lap. That’s just part of it.”
Davie Franek was able to jump in front of Hodnett on the Lap 19 restart. But catching Smith was a tall task.
Smith blistered the outside and built a 1.6-second lead by Lap 20 and ballooned it to 2.534 seconds five laps later.
Franek and Hodnett had no chance and settled for second and third. Locke and Jason Shultz, who started 19th, completed the top five.
“You can get going, get good starts, and next thing you know, a guy comes out of nowhere,” Smith said. “When you start up front and pretty much lead every lap, you don’t really know the fast lines.
“I tried to move around a little bit, but it didn’t seem to matter where I went. We were pretty good everywhere.”
Continued Smith, “These pink Kramer Cups never get old. Plus, I get to stand up here with Kramer’s wife and her kids and get to enjoy it with them.”
Feature Finish, 30 Laps: 1. Mark Smith; 2. Davie Franek; 3. Greg Hodnett; 4. Derek Locke; 5. Jason Shultz; 6. Robbie Stillwaggon; 7. Josh Weller; 8. Chad Layton; 9. Chris Coyle; 10. Mallie Shuster; 11. Curt Michael; 12. Justin Whittall; 13. Troy Betts; 14. Larry Kelleher; 15. Ryan Kissinger; 16. Colby Womer; 17. Ed Aikin; 18. Ryan Higgins; 19. Jim Shuster; 20. Kris Lilick; 21. Cody Keller; 22. Eric Tomecek; 23. Kevin Nagy; 24. Michael Walter II; 25. Brett Michalski; 26. Nate Snyder.