Posse Strikes First: Smith Tops Outlaws at Lincoln
Holds off Hodnett, Pittman to earn his first World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory since 2009
ABBOTTSTOWN, Pa. — May 14, 2014 — The light mist that fell on the Gettysburg Clash at Lincoln Speedway much of Wednesday night did not dampen the celebration for Stevie Smith, who claimed his first World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series win in five years and the first for his car owner Fred Rahmer.
Smith and Jac Haudenschild led the 35-lap A-main to the green flag in front of a full house, and a row in front of Greg Hodnett and Donny Schatz, two drivers with significant success in the Keystone State.
An early caution and subsequent red flag flew on lap two after contact in turn one caused a chain reaction crash involving five cars. David Gravel, Cory Haas, Kraig Kinser and Sammy Swindell all ended upside down and none would be able to return. Danny Dietrich, who won the Gettysburg Clash at Lincoln the past two seasons, was also involved, but did not sustain serious damage.
On the restart, Smith and Haudenschild again the led the field to the green. The battle that ensued for the next dozen laps saw the two drivers exchange the lead while Hodnett battled a charging Daryn Pittman.
A mid-race caution gave Smith the opportunity he needed to pull to the lead in his Miller Bros. Chevrolet car.
Hodnett was third in the Lelands.com car with Pittman still behind him in the Great Clips ride when he turned his sights on second-running Haudenschild. Looking for the right line, Hodnett finally got his opportunity to take second as the leaders caught lapped traffic with eight to go.
Pittman then found his way around Haudenschild with 10 to go.
On lap 30, Hodnett, working to find a way around Smith, slid high through turns one and two but could not make it work. The lost momentum gave Pittman a chance to briefly get around Hodnett before Hodnett retook the spot in the final laps.
Smith, leading Hodnett, Pittman and Haudenschild, took the checkered flag for the first time since 2009 when he won a twin feature at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa.
“It’s huge,” said Smith, of Broken Arrow, Okla. “At this point in my career I needed some help and this is a big race for us to win. I know from driving all these years and all this experience, these guys put me here. They’ve got a really good race car for me and we’d like to keep going and I’d like to get one more.”
An ebullient Rahmer was one of the first to greet Smith in victory lane.
“I think he might be happier than me,” said a laughing Smith. “This opportunity came up and Fred came up with this idea. . . I’m on this because these guys know sprint cars. It’s really cool to have somebody that knows the cars, that’s been a driver — I needed some help and this is a boost.”
Capping off the emotional win was the fact that Smith was making only his fourth start in the team’s car.
Rahmer, who ended his own driving career last season after an emotional win at the National Open, said this was one of the highlights of his racing career.
“In all honesty, obviously the National Open was the biggest thing that happened to me in racing up until my kid qualified for his first outlaw race,” Rahmer said. “Stevie winning is just icing on the cake. He deserves it. I know how great a driver he is — he just needed a good opportunity.”
Hodnett, who finished in second, said Smith and the Rahmer team had the car to beat all night.
“With [Haudenschild] up there, he’s obviously going to shove it in just about anywhere and he was having a little problem keeping the front end on the ground,” said Hodnett, of Thomasville, Pa. “So he was having trouble, I was doing wheelies and Stevie just seemed like he was moving right along. And then Daryn got into the mix. I just thought it was a really great race. Obviously I wish the outcome was just a little bit different in our favor but overall I can’t complain. With the caliber of the competition that the Outlaw guys bring we were just really blessed to be on the front row at the end of the night.”
Pittman, last year’s World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series champion, said the car his team gave him was probably the best he has had in his attempts at Lincoln.
“I’m happy — as a competitor you hate to be happy with third but that was a tough race and we had a really good car. We definitely had a car that was good enough to win,” said Pittman, of Owasso, Okla. “You win a race in Pennsylvania, I don’t care if it’s at Lincoln or Williams Grove, you’re going to earn it . . . We’ll take third and go into Friday.
The Outlaws race at Lincoln saw its biggest field of the year with 48 cars attempting the race. Eight drivers made their series debut at the track.
The Gettysburg Clash at Lincoln opened the first of a three race stretch for the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series in Pennsylvania. The cars return to the track Friday and Saturday nights at Williams Grove Speedway before heading Sunday to Orange County Fair Speedway and Tuesday to the NAPA Auto Parts Outlaw Classic at New Egypt Speedway.