Jensen Ford james in victory lane after Rockin' with the Stars.
What won the race: Pole-starting Jensen Ford of Johnson City, Tenn., led all 40 laps to win Saturday's Southern All Star feature at Smoky Mountain Speedway. Finishing 0.694 of a second ahead of Canadian Ricky Weiss, Ford earned $5,000 for his first career series triumph.
Quotable: “I bet the odds. I went on different tires as everybody else,” Ford said. “We wasn’t as good in lapped traffic I don’t think, but when we was by ourself, we was really good. Heck, I’m just happy to finish a race. I’ve only finished one race this year. We’ve been fast as it shows right here. We won this race finally. … Like I said, I’m just happy to finish a race. It sucks to have speed and not be able to show it.”
Key notes: The race was slowed by a single caution when Will Roland spun on lap 14. … Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., winner of three SAS events at Smoky Mountain, including the last two entering Saturday’s race, finished third. He lost the runner-up spot when he attempted to pass Ford on a lap-14 restart. … Reigning series champion Billy Franklin of Calera, Ala., was slated to start 23rd, but was disqualified before the feature started when a crew member in the infield threw a light stick onto the track as the cars were leaving the starting grid. … Seventeen of the 23 starters finished the race with 10 on the lead lap. … There hasn’t been a repeat winner in seven SAS events this season. … Mack McCarter of Gatlinburg, Tenn., won the $5,000-to-win Steel Block Bandits Dirt Late Model Challenge feature.
On the move: Robby Moses of Maryville, Tenn., started 21st and finished 10th.
Winner's sponsors: Ford’s TNT Race Car is sponsored by Whitehead Construction, WPR Fabrication, Stanco Equipment, Scoun Trucking, Exel Enterprises and TruForm Race Products.
Points chase: Entering the weekend, Payton Freeman (442 points) of Commerce, Ga., led Billy Franklin (404), Mark Dodson (342, Joseph Joiner (290) and Casey Turman (276).
Current weather: Broken Clouds, 61°F
Car count: 31
Fast qualifier: Dale McDowell
Time: 17.028 seconds
Polesitter: Jensen Ford
Consolation race winners: Will Roland, Austin Kirkpatrick
Next series race: May 1, Clayhill Speedway (Atwood, TN) $4,000