A win is a win, so the saying goes. And for Ligonier native Garrett Smithley, it’s been a long time coming.
On Saturday, Smithley took advantage of an off-weekend in NASCAR to have some fun with a friend at Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina.
Smithley drove a Pro Super Truck to a win for James Edwards, a friend, part-time NASCAR spotter, and former Legend Car crew chief for Smithley.
“We had been talking about it for a long time and with not racing in the Cup Series, we decided to race the truck,” Smithley said. “Racing at Hickory Motor Speedway is a special place for me since it was the first track I ever raced.”
“We qualified on the pole, and we led all the laps, anything less than a win would have been a disappointment.”
Smithley returns to the NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday in the Spire Motorsports No. 77 at New Hampshire Speedway.
LATROBE SPEEDWAY — Troy Shields won the Late Model feature at Latrobe Speedway. Other winners include; Nolan Dalton in the E-Mods, Marty Spade in the Pro Stocks, Anthony Monteparte in the Chargers, and Matt Weltz in the Four Cylinders.
Clate Copeman and Troy Shields brought the Late Models out for the feature event. Shields took advantage of starting on the front row and jumped out to the lead with Copeman and Braeden Dillenger in tow. One of the fastest cars on the track was Michael Ott. Ott moved into second on lap seven and tried to pressure Shields. Shields went on and led all 20 laps to capture the win in the Shields Racing, S&S Communications Rocket. Ott finished second, Dillinger was third, Andrew Koenig was fourth and Russell Baird Jr. fifth.
Ray Hickok Jr. and Brett McDonald led the Pro Stock feature on to the track. Hickok jumped out to the early lead with McDonald Spade and Martin Spade in tow. On lap 3, Hickok broke and Spade went to the lead. Spade took the win with McDonald in second, Tommy Dembowski was third, Barry Faris fourth and Steve Mitchell in fifth.
Mike Benton and Ron Ramsey brought the Charger feature onto the track and at the drop of the green, Benton jumped out to the lead with fifth-starting Anthony Monteparte moving into second place on lap two. On lap 3, Monteparte went on and led the rest of the race to capture his first win of the season. Benton finished second, Brandon Doland was third, fourth was Ramsey and Justin Ruff took fifth.
LERNERVILLE — It was a Fab4 of another kind on Friday night, for the RUSH Racing Summer Showcase. It was an emotional night, as the late Brandon Hawkins was honored with a 27-lap RUSH Sprint Car main event complete with a missing man formation, four-wide salute. Fans collected more than $4,200 for Brandon’s family, as drivers entered the grandstands with their helmets in hand. Hawkins was killed in a work-related accident recently.
In DIRTcar Pro Stock action, the cream rose to the top of the field once again as has been the case in 2020. However, early on, it looked as if the race was Noah Brunell’s to lose. The young Pro Stock pilot from Derry Township, seemingly had control of the field after he wrested the lead away from early front runner and Latrobe Speedway regular, Tommy Dembowski. Then, on lap six, in a run that saw Mike Miller follow through the pack upfront to take up the second spot behind Brunell. At the halfway point, week two feature winner and defending track champion Tyler Dietz began to make his presence felt, making his way to third as the bumper of Miller came larger in his view.
Dietz began taking looks for the second spot under Miller with five laps to go. Brunell then slowed with three laps to go, allowing Miller to take the lead momentarily as the caution flag waved with two laps remaining, just as Dietz was sizing Miller up for a potential pass for the lead. On the ensuing restart, Dietz made his way around Miller and never looked back en route to his second victory of the season, putting him in command of the point standings in Pro Stock action.
Once the momentum got rolling in the RUSH Late Model main event, fans were treated to a classic battle for the win. John Mollick returned to the seat of the No. 60 Late Model and inherited the lead from Michael Duritsky, who stopped on the speedway following early race contact with Joe Martin.
On the following restart, Kyle Lukon, a past FASTRAK Pro Late Model Champion, and Josh Ferry both bolted forward with authority, enabling Lukon to engage on one of the fiercest battles of the night with Mollick for the lead. The two drivers traded slide jobs to the crowd’s delight on several occasions near the midpoint of the race as each raced hard and clean in a dogfight for the win. Lukon was able to find the traction necessary to make the pass for good and stayed out front the rest of the way, earning his first Lernerville feature victory in the process.
Racing returns to The Action Track on Friday, as the annual Nostalgia Night takes place. The DIRTcar Sprints, DIRTcar Late Models, DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds and Pro Stocks return to action.
JENNERSTOWN — For the second straight year, the nationally traveling All-Star Monster Truck Tour made a mid-summer stop at the Jennerstown Speedway Complex. Giving the stock car racers a Saturday night off, six monster trucks battled for supremacy in three different competitions on July 25.
On Saturday, the stars of “5 Division Racing” return to attack the half-mile oval track. In addition to the race card, a fireworks display will light up the skies over Jennerstown, immediately following the races. Also, the 2020 Jennerstown Hall of Fame Ceremony will enshrine six new members during intermission. For more information visit www.jennerstown.org.
KEYSTONE RACEWAY — Jim Baker, 69, from Monroeville, died in a crash at Keystone Raceway in Derry Township on Friday.
Baker was involved in a crash on Friday afternoon during a test and tune session before the tracks 660 Top Bulb Nationals. Baker’s purposely built 1936 bodied roadster made an abrupt right turn crashing into the guiderail, hitting a light pole before rolling over multiple times at the IHRA sanctioned drag racing facility.
His family said he died exactly the way he wanted to go out. Jim always said, “If I die in that car, I’ll be happy.”
Mia Tedesco was the winner on Sunday of the 660 Top Bulb Nationals taking home $15,000 for her efforts.
LUGNUTS – Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio., announced that because of the continued mandates set forth by the Ohio Department of Health from the COVID-19 pandemic including no spectators being permitted at events throughout the state of Ohio, there will be no racing this Saturday, and until further notice. The management of Sharon Speedway continues to choose to abide by ODH’s mandates along with directives from the Governor.
(D.J. Johnson can be reached by email at DJ1360rpm@aol.com and on Twitter @DJJohnsonPIT)