Chris Madden clicked off a semifeature victory at Smoky Mountain.
What won the race: Continuing his torrid 2022 campaign on opening night of the Mountain Moonshine Classic, Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., led from flag-to-flag to capture Friday’s first 30-lap preliminary feature at Smoky Mountain Speedway. He kept Mike Marlar at bay following a lap-28 restart to beat the Tennessee driver to the finish line by 0.615 of a second for a $5,000 victory.
Quotable: “My only scare was with Spencer (Hughes),” Madden said. “I don’t know what happened to him, but he shut down, broke or something (while being lapped with two circuits to go), and I was dead on his bumper. I thought I was gonna wipe him out. I thought he was gonna be on my breather. I was coming in a hurry. I don’t know how I missed him.”
Key notes: Madden wasn't threatened until the two-to-go restart that followed a caution flag for Spencer Hughes's slowing car. ... Mike Marlar placed second after overtaking Ricky Thornton Jr. for the position on lap 13; Thornton faded to seventh in the final rundown. ... Ashton Winger advanced from 17th to seventh before apparent engine trouble forced him out on lap 28. ... After two aborted initial starts, the race ran uninterrupted until the 28th lap. ... Friday’s 45 Lucas Oil Series entries were split into two groups for the Mountain Moonshine Classic preliminary program. Each group had its own set of heats and feature; no B-mains were contested with all drivers in each group running a 30-lap, $5,000-to-win feature. ... The finish from each feature will be used to determine heat lineups for Saturday’s 60-lap, $50,000-to-win finale.
On the move: Cameron Weaver of Crossville, Tenn., started 19th and finished 12th.
Winner's sponsors: The Chris Madden Racing Rocket Chassis is powered by an Andy Durham Racing Engine and sponsored by Drydene Performance Products, Franklin Enterprises, Henderson Amusement, Millwood Plumbing, Petroff Towing, Century Plastics, Davis Diesel Service, Worley Monument, VP Racing Fuels, Penske Racing Shocks, Hoosier Racing Tire and Cole Perkins Media & Promotions.
Points chase: Before Smoky Mountain Friday: 1. Brandon Sheppard (2,865); 2. Tim McCreadie (2,785): 3. Tyler Erb (2,750); 4. Ricky Thornton Jr. (2,620); 5. Earl Pearson Jr. (2,540); 6. Hudson O’Neal (2,460); 7. Ashton Winger (2,395); 8. Devin Moran (2,320); 9. Garrett Alberson (2,260): 10. Jimmy Owens (2,235).
Current weather: Overcast, 77°F
Car count: 45
Fast qualifier: Mike Marlar
Time: 15.404 seconds
Polesitter: Chris Madden
Heat race winners: Chris Madden, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Next series race: June 18, Smoky Mountain Speedway (Maryville, TN) $50,000
From staff reports
MARYVILLE, Tenn. — Live updates from Friday’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series-sanctioned Mountain Moonshine Classic qualifying program feature twin 30-lap, $5,000-to-win features at Smoky Mountain Speedway (results unofficial):
Continuing his torrid 2022 campaign on opening night of the Mountain Moonshine Classic, Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., led from flag-to-flag to capture Friday’s first 30-lap preliminary feature at Smoky Mountain Speedway. He kept Mike Marlar at bay following a lap-28 restart to beat the Tennessee driver to the finish line by 0.615 of a second for a $5,000 victory.
Heat race results
(Eight laps; all transfer to first 30-lap feature)
First heat: Chris Madden, Mike Marlar, Hudson O’Neal, Brandon Overton, Austin Neely, Brenden Smith, Mack McCarter, Spencer Hughes, Ashton Winger, Cameron Weaver, Bryson Harper, Camaron Marlar.
Second heat: Ricky Thornton Jr., Kyle Bronson, Dale McDowell, Brandon Sheppard, Earl Pearson Jr., Eli Beets, Michael Brown, Stormy Scott, Ricky Weiss, John Blankenship, Robby Moses.
Group A time trials
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
- Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 15.404
- Eli Beets (11B), Knoxville, Tenn., 15.561
- Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 15.594
- Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 15.602
- Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 15.703
- Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 15.730
- Austin Neely (3), New Tazewell, Tenn., 15.731
- Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 15.733
- Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 15.790
- Michael Brown (24D), Lancaster, S.C., 15.794
- Brenden Smith (17SS), Dade City, Fla., 15.805
- Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 15.842
- Spencer Hughes (11H), Meridian, Miss., 15.857
- John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 15.961
- Mack McCarter (51), Gatlinburg, Tenn., 15.976
- Earl Pearson Jr. (46), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.988
- Camaron Marlar (99), Winfield, Tenn., 15.995
- Robby Moses (21M), Maryville, Tenn., 15.998
- Cameron Weaver (17), Crossville, Tenn., 16.005
- Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., 16.088
- Ashton Winger (89), Hampton, Ga., 16.127
- Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 16.190
- Bryson Harper (20H), Forrest City, N.C., 16.351