A large crowd turns out for the first appearance of the Tony Stewart Arctic Cat Circuit of Champions Sprint Car race
Ryan Smith of Kunkletown, Pa. ended a near two-year winless drought in the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series Friday, July 28 at Outlaw Speedway in Dundee. All was not easy for Smith, who earlier in the evening won his respective heat race and dash, and held off a series of late race challenges from veteran sprint car driver Sammy Swindell, and five-time ASCoC Champion Chad Kemenah.
“We’ve been close with a bunch of seconds and thirds, but just couldn’t get it done and we had some folks here that said we couldn’t get it done here tonight.” Smith said.
After starting from the pole in the 30-lap A-main, Smith surrendered the lead to outside front row starter Swindell, who led the opening 12 laps.
On lap 13, after working through several lapped cars, Smith used the low lane in turns three and four to take his first lead of the race.
“I ran him down on the top and after getting through lapped traffic, I just caught him in the right place,” Smith explained about the first pass for the lead.
Swindell would eventually re-take the lead three laps later as the two continued to work through lapped traffic. On lap 19, Smith ultimately retook the lead for the final time as the third and fourth place cars of Kemenah and Danny Dietrich began to close in on the top two.
“I left him a hole and he took it. Turns three and four were tricky and you had to hit it just right and the one time he didn’t was when I got back by him,” Smith said.
As the race neared its final stages, the top four cars were all bunched together with lapped traffic hindering any progress. However, coming to the white flag, the #33 driven by Brent Matus spun in turn four bringing out the first caution on lap 28.
Swindell got a great restart on the outside of turn two only for the run to be halted when the #19 driven by Joe Kubiniec spun in turn four coming to the green.
“I’ll be honest, I did not want to see that caution, I was looking at the white flag waving and I had just gotten by a couple of lap cars and all I had to do was hit my marks for one lap.” explained Smith, adding, “He (Swindell) had a run, but I don’t know if he would have gotten by me there.”
After the final restart, Kemenah would wrestle second away from Swindell and set his sights on Smith. Despite a strong effort through turns three and four on the final lap, Kemenah would come second behind Smith by two car lengths.
“We had a really good car tonight and it was really fun to race this track, I thought I was a lot better in those last five laps. It was about as hard as I could go without blowing over and I know it’s a long way down the other side” Kemenah explained about the final moments of the race.
Swindell, a multi-time World of Outlaws Series Champion and one of Sprint Car racing’s all time greats, it was his first race in the ASCoC in 2017, and first visit to the Dundee area track brought home the Tim Zimbardi-owned #35s to a third place finish after leading 14 laps.
“We definitely had a good car, I was probably running a little to hard there and Ryan got by me. “The traffic kind of messed me up a little there and we had that restart and were able to drive around him but the caution came out,” Swindell said.