By TODD HEINTZELMAN
MECHANICSBURG, PA – The Black Bandit rode again Saturday night at Williams Grove Speedway.
Driving a sprinter with a retro No. 19 paint scheme, Stevie Smith took the lead from Aaron Ott on lap eight and survived two late-race restarts to score the $20,000 win in the World of Outlaws-sanctioned Summer Nationals. Smith’s win also earned him the Morgan Cup and a $5,000 bonus.
“This feels great,” said Smith. “It’s hard to win these Outlaw races. I know we won one last year, but until then it was a difficult task for me to accomplish. I know it gets old, but I’ve got to thank these guys for giving me a really, really good racecar. I’m glad it’s getting old that I can say that. I’m very proud of them. Things went our way tonight and it’s a great feeling to win a World of Outlaws show.”
Smith, of Broken Arrow, Okla., drives for retired Hall of Fame driver Fred Rahmer and Massachusetts businessman Dave Pritchard. His car was painted like his father’s No. 19 was painted years ago.
“I was feeling a little better tonight,” said Smith. “I wasn’t really passing the lapped cars, but that’s getting common these days. When I got to them, I could get by them pretty easily. Last week, we had a more difficult time, but the track was different. We got up to Lance there and he was running a good pace. I thought ‘keep your line and keep the most speed you can keep up and you have a good chance at winning this thing, don’t mess up now, you’re almost to the end.’”
“It feels really good,” said Rahmer. “He did a hell of a job. When you’re at a World of Outlaws race, there’s a lot of great teams and drivers, but I think I’ve got one of the best.”
Second starter Joey Saldana pitted before the feature even lined up. A push truck ran over his left rear tire and Saldana pitted to change it. Since the flat was caused by the truck, he was allowed to retain his starting spot.
Polesitter Sammy Swindell was put back one row for getting on the gas too early on the initial start. This moved Aaron Ott to the pole and he grabbed the lead.
Smith, who started fourth, and Saldana were side-by-side down the frontstretch with Smith securing the runner-up spot with one lap down.
Ott began to pass slower cars on the sixth lap and Smith closed. A slider through the third and fourth turns got Smith the lead as they completed lap eight.
Swindell tried a slider on Saldana and they were close racing off turn two. Swindell would get the spot a few laps later on the backstretch.
Outlaw point leader Donny Schatz started fifth, but fell back early in the event. He made a late run toward the front and a pass of Saldana got him to fourth on lap 18.
Smith held a comfortable lead over Ott as Schatz closed on third place.
Schatz got by Swindell on the frontstretch for third as they completed lap 27. The yellow flag flew for Brock Zearfoss, setting up a single-file restart with three to go. Smith’s lead was 1.624 seconds before the yellow.
One more lap was completed before Jacob Allen flipped over the fourth turn fence bringing out the red flag. He was okay.
Schatz had been challenging Ott for second before the red. Smith led them down the front stretch for the restart with two laps left.
He got a good restart as Schatz got under Ott for second in the second turn. Schatz had a slight bobble on the cushion coming off turn four for the white flag. This gave Smith a clean run to the checkered flag as he’d win by 1.131 seconds. Schatz settled for his seventh runner-up finish in the last 13 races. Ott, Swindell and Saldana completed the top five.
“Running second is hard to swallow especially as many times as we’ve done it here lately,” said Schatz. “That’s racing and it works that way. When you’re good enough to win a race, you win a race and we weren’t good enough. We’ll work on it and try to get ourselves better.”
Brian Montieth, Brent Marks, Lucas Wolfe, Greg Hodnett and Paul McMahan rounded out the top 10.
Swindell set fast time in the first flight of time trials with a lap of 16.742. Smith, Paul McMahan, Kerry Madsen and Pat Cannon were the top five in the first flight including 19 cars.
Saldana set fast time in the second flight with a lap of 16.831. Ott, Hodnett, Montieth and Schatz were the top five in the second flight including 20 cars.
Swindell earned the Fast Tees Fast Time Award worth $300 for being the overall fast timer.
The eight-lap heat races were won by Zearfoss, Wolfe, Schatz and Marks.
Swindell won the six-lap dash over Saldana, Ott and Smith, who nipped Schatz at the line for the spot.
J.J. Grasso won the first B-main over Kyle Reinhardt. Jacob Allen won the second over Doug Esh.
Summer Nationals Sprint Car Feature (30 laps): 1. Stevie Smith. 2. Donny Schatz. 3. Aaron Ott. 4. Sammy Swindell. 5. Joey Saldana. 6. Brian Montieth. 7. Brent Marks. 8. Lucas Wolfe. 9. Greg Hodnett. 10. Paul McMahan. 11. Danny Dietrich. 12. Kerry Madsen. 13. Kraig Kinser. 14. Daryn Pittman. 15. Logan Schuchart. 16. Shane Stewart. 17. Brad Sweet. 18. Jason Sides. 19. Lance Dewease. 20. Doug Esh. 21. Rodney Westhafer. 22. Jason Johnson. 23. Brock Zearfoss. 24. Jacob Allen. 25. Kyle Reinhardt. 26. J.J. Grasso. 27. Steve Buckwalter. 28. Pat Cannon.
Did Not Qualify: David Murcott, Darren Mollenoyux, Nicole Bower, Wayne Dadetto, Troy Fraker, Tim Glatfelter, David Gravel, Jim Siegel, Cory Haas, Hunter Mackison, Alan Krimes.