By MIKE MALLETT
Mark Smith could probably turn laps at the Selinsgrove Speedway with his eyes closed at this point in his career. There aren’t many people that have more laps around the lightning quick half-mile than Smith. In Sunday’s Ray Tilley classic, the Sunbury, Pa., driver proved just how good he is.
The 30-lap feature was slowed by a red flag early on lap four. Smith used the restart to go from the fifth spot up to second in just two corners. Five laps later he got another restart and this time he powered around Gerard McIntyre for the lead. At that point it was all over as Smith took home the $4,088 in becoming the fifth driver to earn a crystal cup trophy presented by the Tilley family.
“I just had a good start, the car was really good, and wow I thought, ‘shit I wasn’t expecting that,’ but we’ll take it,” said Smith with a smile in the pits afterwards.
Smith was by far the class of the field. No one was able to what he was able to do. While many drivers were glued to the higher lane on the speedway, Smith made his passes down on the bottom of the racing surface before getting back to the preferred higher lane. He admitted he learned some things the night before at the Port Royal Speedway which helped him be so dominant in his Mach-1 chassis on this night.
“We’ve been really good with the 410 and actually the 360 no matter where we go,” stated Smith. “Last night with the 410 we were so-so. I was testing stuff and used what I learned last night to apply to tonight and it showed. We learned some stuff and the 360’s obviously have been good all year. We are just having a really good year so far. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
It wasn’t all perfect for Smith as he had issues with the water temperature in his car. He was concerned and struggling in his own mind. He wasn’t sure what he should do because he only has one 410 engine at his disposal.
“I was losing water out of my engine and I lost water temperature,” commented Smith. “That is pretty telltale that you lost your water in your engine so I was just taking it easy. I was just going as fast as I needed to. That is my baby, that is the only I got. I didn’t really want to push it. It never slowed down, still has water in it so I think we are okay.”
As for how difficult it is to race when you know you could have an engine issue and you are leading he cited, “It’s pretty hard, should I pull off, but I’m leading, should I pull, but your leading, it’s hard to make that decision especially when you are paying the bills yourself. Sometimes you make the right one and sometimes you don’t, but that’s just how life goes.”
Rahmer Strong in Second Selinsgrove Start
If you watched Freddie Rahmer in the 30-lap A-Main you would have never guessed that he’s been to Selinsgrove Speedway only one other time in his racing career. The Salfordville, Pa., driver looked right at home on the big fast half-mile finishing second to Smith. He was gaining on him in the closing laps.
“My car got better and I could see him getting lose, but I don’t have much experience here,” mentioned Rahmer. “I feel like if I had gone to the bottom a lap or two sooner I would have got right with him. I’m still pretty happy with that. Our car was getting better the later half of it.”
As has been mentioned, Rahmer got off to a rough start to 2018 with multiple crashes. Now he’s finally settling back into his rhythm and getting things rolling once again.
“I was pressing a little too much and the tracks weren’t perfect,” said Rahmer. “I was over driving and making it worse. All year our car has been fast and the last three weekends we’ve been really good.”
Selinsgrove Side Bites
20 cars competed in Sunday’s Ray Tilley Classic…
Greg Hodnett set fast time in time trials with a lap of 15.849. He just missed setting a new track record…
Rahmer, Steve Buckwalter and TJ Stutts were victorious in the heat race events…
The Stutts crew earned their money on Sunday night. Stutts lost an engine in time trials after completing only one lap. The team quickly changed the powerplant allowing him to return for heat racing action. He was able to conclude the night with a third place effort…
Steve Buckwalter blew a right rear tire causing him to flip in the middle of turns one and two on lap four of the main. While flipping he collected Jason Shultz. Luckily both drivers walked away unharmed…
Blane Heimbach blew a left rear tire causing him to slow and bring out a caution. He returned only to slow once again for a second and final caution of the event…
Coleman Gulick led the New York invaders by scoring a ninth place finish. Other New York invaders included Joe Trenca and Joe Kata who both had mechanical woes sideline their night’s racing efforts.