Mack McCarter scored a $5,000 steel-block victory at Smoky Mountain.
What won the race: Turning back Cory Hedgecock’s furious charge over the final two laps, Mack McCarter of Gatlinburg, Tenn., edged Hedgecock by six-thousandths of a second to win Saturday’s Steel Block Bandits Dirt Late Model Challenge feature at Smoky Mountain Speedway.
Quotable: “My car tightened up quite a bit,” McCarter said. “When that tire finally fired, I was just so tight. It took all the guts I had just to finish that race. It was a heck of a race. I mean, we was pulling sliders and everything else. (The top of the track) is really good. It’s come in. Roger (Sellers) and his crew really did a great job on the track.”
Key notes: Building a seemingly comfortably lead of nearly a half straightaway in the waning laps, McCarter barely survived Hedgecock’s late rally. … Hedgecock closed the gap dramatically on the final two laps and pulled to the inside of the leader exiting turn four, giving fans a photo finish, while leaving those without the benefit of electronic scoring unsure of the winner until it was announced over the PA system. … McCarter took the lead from Hedgecock on lap 12 and led the next 17 circuits before Hedgecock slid by to lead lap 29. … The two split the lapped car of Chris Lewis as McCarter surged back in front. … The race was slowed by five cautions, all in the first 19 laps. … Polesitter Willie Milliken led 10 laps before slowing with a left rear flat to draw the second caution, handing the lead to Hedgecock. … Kyle Courtney was running third when he slowed with a flat on lap 19, drawing the final caution. … The upstart Steel Block Bandits tour shared the card with a $5,000-to-win Southern All Stars feature, won by Johnson City, Tenn.’s Jensen Ford.
On the move: Robby Emory of Milton, Del., started 14th and finished seventh.
Winner's sponsors: McCarter’s CVR Race Car is sponsored by West End Package Store, Tennessee Homemade Wines, Hidden Valley Cattle Ranch, Parkway Liquor Store, Jim Beeman Lumber, McCarter Farms and Ohlins.
Points chase: This was the upstart tour’s first-ever race.
Current weather: Broken Clouds, 61°F
Car count: 27
Fast qualifier: Willie Milliken
Time: 17.170 seconds
Polesitter: Willie Milliken
Heat race winners: Willie Milliken, Jason Manley, Mack McCarter
Next series race: May 22, 311 Motor Speedway (Pine Hall, NC) $5,000