By BILL FOLEY
Darren Smith could have been one of the most disappointed Modified drivers in the Weedsport pits on Sunday night as some of the best in the Northeast were on hand for the opening race of the season.
It was “a luck of the draw” night with no time trials.
What you drew is where you started your heat and Smith picked a number that placed him on the pole of heat number three.
The draw continued to favor him as he picked “four” for outside of the second row in the main event.
He had worked his way up to third place only to get caught up with two lapped cars and a challenging Erick Rudolph and with just laps to go fell back to cross the line in eighth.
Afterwards, Darren spoke to Dirt Track Digest and he was surprisingly upbeat.
He said, “I told Scott and the boys that I can honestly say I left it all out there tonight. I guess when you run out of talent you know what’s going to happen. So I am happy with what I did.”
At the start of the race he fell back to seventh and then had to play catch up on a track that simply didn’t allow for a ton of passing.
Looking at the early stages, Darren said, “On the initial start I tried rolling the middle and dropped back to seventh. I saw how Williamson was getting in and I said I’m going to try this and go backwards or I’m gonna try it and go forward. I had nothing to lose at that point. The outside really started to work for me.”
How the race was going had a lot to do with how the remainder of the event would go.
Darren explained, “You know on the initial start everybody gets bunched up going to the bottom so I could get momentum way out there. Once we got strung out I was up there. I was chasing Larry Wight and it took me like eight laps before I finally got good enough to get a run off.”
However, the key point for the young driver came near the mid 30’s juncture of the event.
Traffic was heavy and Smith was beginning to feel the heat from fourth place Rudolph.
Ahead of the hard charging drivers were Jessica Power, running her first ever Modified feature event, and veteran J.F. Corriveau. They were racing for position.
Power was holding a line on the low-side and Corriveau was in the middle.
Laps were spent trying to clear the two cars and eventually Rudolph was the first to find an opening and went to third.
Smith blamed no one for what happened.
“I came up on Jessica, who is a rookie, and Corriveau and really got trapped. You know it has nothing to do with anything she did. She held her line and I just couldn’t get by. She didn’t do anything wrong as she stayed right where she was. It was my job to get around her.”
Corriveau was hanging off her right rear and Smith said, “That didn’t help you know. I just never got the kind of split between them. Then the guy behind me gets up there. I got to the top. He fills the gap and it was just an unfortunate situation for me.”
It was definitely a mixed emotions moment for him as he explained, m”I had a top three run going, whacked the wall and fell back, but I’m very proud of what we did.”