Smith holds on for sprint car win in season opener

 

Mark Smith (M1) passes Jim Shuster early in Sunday’s USCS feature at Magnolia Motor Speedway. Smith won the race.

Mark Smith (M1) passes Jim Shuster early in Sunday’s USCS feature at Magnolia Motor Speedway. Smith won the race. Photo by: David Miller/Special to The Dispatch

 

Spencer Hughes (11) passes Bryant Marsh for the lead in their Durrence Layne Late Model feature Sunday at Magnolia Motor Speedway.

Spencer Hughes (11) passes Bryant Marsh for the lead in their Durrence Layne Late Model feature Sunday at Magnolia Motor Speedway.
Photo by: David Miller/Special to The Dispatch

 

 

David Miller

 

 

Pennsylvania native Mark Smith held off a late charge from Matt Covington to win the United Sprint Car Series feature Sunday at Magnolia Motor Speedway. 

 

Smith started fifth and took the lead from Johnny Bridges on lap 8. Smith would enjoy a 12-lap spell with limited lap-traffic thanks to a caution on lap 12. 

 

A gnarly flip and tumble by Shelby Brown in the 17B car on lap 20 reset the field and gave Covington, who won Saturday at Hattiesburg, his best shot at Smith. Covington worked inside Smith off turn 2 and pulled even with him with five laps to go, but Smith re-established his lead in the next corner and pulled away for the win, his fifth of the season and second in seven days. 

 

Smith said the timing of their feature - the race started at sunset - and the subsequent drop in temperature likely slowed him down due to choosing a harder tire, but "once I got rolling, I was fine." 

 

"I had a harder left rear on than [Covington] did, just because the track was so abrasive there early," Smith said, "and the harder tire was actually working better for me once it got a few laps to get rolling. Other than that, it was a pretty good race." 

 

Covington, who started seventh and finished second Sunday, said he felt his car was "good enough to run third," and that he and his crew tightened up the car too much. The caution, however, presented an opportunity to win, but only if Covington could pass Smith early and find some luck to hold on. 

 

"But I didn't have enough for Mark," Covington said. "He's fast." 

 

Covington hopes his results over the weekend are a "precursor" to how his season will unfold. Covington, a Tulsa, Oklahoma, native, won the USCS race Saturday in Hattiesburg, where he held off series points leader and three-time NASCAR Monster Energy Series points champion Tony Stewart. 

 

Covington's races at Hattiesburg and Magnolia were his first two races of the season since switching race engines from Wesmar to Shark over the offseason. 

 

"You can't ask for much more from this weekend," Covington said. 

 

Davie Franek, Danny Smith and Corey Bailey rounded out the top 5 Sunday. 

 

Stewart was expected at Magnolia this weekend but didn't make it. The race was originally slated to take place Saturday, but weather pushed race day to Sunday. 

 

 

 

Hughes wins Crate race 

 

Spencer Hughes passed Bryant Marsh on lap 14 and earned his first Durrence Layne Late Model feature win of 2019. 

 

Hughes, a former Durrence Layne Street Stocks national champion, spent last season racing Super Late Models for Leon Henderson on a limited schedule, supplementing the gaps on the calendar with spells in Crates, Street Stocks and Modifieds. 

 

Hughes earned 10 wins across all divisions in 2018, and he's eager to pick up a Super Late Model ride at some point this season. For now, he'll continue to drive Louisiana-native Bryan Foy's No. 7 Modified car in both the U.M.P. series and United States Modified series. 

 

"You could say [Foy's car] is my ride for this year," Hughes said. "[The Foys] are super good people, and I'm looking forward to racing with them more." 

 

Hughes also looks to continue racing for the owner of the No. 11 Crate car he piloted Sunday. Hughes, though, declined to name the owner of the car. 

 

"I don't know the extent of this ride, but we're going to race anywhere we can," Hughes said. "I'd like to go off and run some bigger races with the Crate stuff, and maybe we can pick up a (Super) Late Model ride by the end of the year. 

 

Marsh took second Sunday, while Sid Scarbrough, Steve Russell and Mathew Brocato rounded out the top 5. 

 

 

 

In other race action: 

 

· Jamie Pickard won the 602 Sportsman feature. Corey Pennington, Russ Brasel, Nick Thrash and Tody Ratcliff rounded out the top 5. 

 

· Jay Burchfield won the Street Stocks feature. Jason Baker, Lee Ray, Levi Aldridge and Jamie Sudduth rounded out the top 5. 

 

· Scooter Ware won the factory stocks feature. Cody Chism, Tyler Collett, Jason Byrd and John Johnson rounded out the top 5.

 

 

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