Mark Smith Closes out DIRT Week with 360 Shootout win at Rolling Wheels

By DEAN REYNOLDS

ELBRIDGE, NY – Sunbury, Pa’s Mark Smith was hired by Quebec’s Patrick Vigneault to run some events with the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints (ESS) in 2015. On Sunday night, he took the lead from Mike Stelter and went on to win the 360 Shootout at the Rolling Wheels Raceway Park. It was Smith’s second win with Vigneault and worth a cool $3,000.

The event run with the 358 modifieds was originally slated for Friday night, but persistent drizzle forced the program to be run on Sunday closing down Super DIRT Week activities. The field which pitted the stars from the Patriot Sprint Tour (PST) as well was 31 cars strong.

By virtue of the draw, ESS veteran Mike Stelter would start the 25 lap A-Main from the pole. When starter Scott Hixson dropped the green, yellow lights came back on quickly has Dave Axton lost power. On the second try for the start, it was Stelter taking control.

Stelter remained in the lead but as he approached lapped traffic, a three-some was closing in. The group was made up of Smith, Chuck Hebing and Mike Mahaney. The three drivers swapped spots with each other until a lap eight caution.

On the restart, Smith was able to take over control of the top spot in a the next few laps, Hebing and Mahaney would also get by Stelter’s #36.

A few more cautions would slow the pace but on each restart it was Smith over Hebing and it would stay that way right the checkered flag.

“The track was a lot different than last night (World of Outlaws), so we had to change the car around to find a good set up.” Said the driver of the Mach-1 #55, “I moved the wing back a bit, changed some lanes and we seem to run pretty good.”

Smith went on “I knew I had my hands full with Chuck (Hebing) starting alongside of me on those double file restarts. I just made sure I got a good start and hope to be ahead of him going into turn one, each time it worked.”

For Smith, the $3,000 payday was a nice reward. “You just have to thank the track for not throwing in the towel and having us come back. That means a lot to us and gave us another good race to run.”

For Hebing, second to Smith was a solid effort but it was a “what could have been.”. The former ESS and PST champion explained, “About lap four I dropped a cylinder, I’m not sure why. When I was up to speed it was ok, but I just couldn’t get going on those restarts. I actually probably started a little early but I knew Mark would get back by me. It was those do what you had to do.”

“I would have liked to have the motor running right, Mark is tough so you need your equipment to be strong too.” Said the Ontario, NY driver. “Glad the year is over, we hurt two engines in the last two races so time to get ready for 2016.”

A few moments earlier, Mahaney collected $4,000 for winning the small block modified 35 lap feature, at times it was looking like he was going to make it a double.

“We gave it a shot, the track changed some and I changed my lines looking for the right place to go. I think I just missed it just a bit.” The driver of the Doug Emery #33 went on. “It was fun, I just have to thank Doug so much. Running this sprint is a lot of fun and we were close to getting a win with ESS this year.”

Former PST American champion Scott Kreutter brought home the Hoddick family owned #49 in fourth with a late charging Robbie Stillwaggon taking fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Stelter, Bryan Howland, Alain Bergeron, Tommy Wickham and Dylan Swiernik.

360 Shootout – Mark Smith ($3,000), Chuck Hebing ($1,800), Mike Mahaney ($1,000), Scott Kreutter ($750), Robbie Stillwaggon ($600), Mike Stelter ($550), Bryan Howland ($500), Alain Bergeron ($475), Tommy Wickham ($450), Dylan Swiernik ($425), Larry Kelleher ($400), Joe Trenca ($375), Sammy Reakes IV ($350), Darryl Ruggles ($325), Rob Dietrick ($300), George Suprick ($290), Paulie Colagiovanni ($285), Jordan Thomas ($280), Ryan Susice ($275), Dane Lorenc ($270), Steve Hutchinson ($265), Jason Barney ($260), Davie Franek ($255), Dave Axton ($250)

Did Not Qualify – Dave Wickham, David Just, Alysha Ruggles, Justin Barger, Steve Glover, Jonathan Preston, Derrick Juliano.

Lap Leaders – Stelter 1-8, Smith 9-25

Heat Winners – Barney, Mahaney, Stelter

B-Main – Suprick

For more Information on the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints:
Web: www.empiresupersprints.com
Twitter: @ESSprints

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