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Duck River Raceway Park

Farmed surface spices HTF's Duck River action

November 21, 2023, 4:28 pm
By Robert Holman
Hunt the Front Super Dirt Series
Tanner English (96v) and Spencer Hughes (19m) mix it up. (joshjamesartwork.com)
Tanner English (96v) and Spencer Hughes (19m) mix it up. (joshjamesartwork.com)

WHEEL, Tenn. (Nov. 18) — Sitting through an hour-long wait while track staff at Duck River Raceway Park reworked the surface of the quarter-mile bullring, most drivers didn’t know what to expect come feature time. But after prelims produced a one-laned surface following a daytime start of Saturday’s Hunt the Front-sanctioned Gobbler, series and track officials realized it would take a little farming to produce the type of surface both drivers and fans deserved.

As the 50-lap, $10,000-to-win event came to close on a chilly Middle Tennessee night, most drivers agreed the surface was spot on.

“First of all, it was worth the wait,” said race winner Tanner English of Benton, Ky. “You know, I know people were probably speculating whether (the track prep) was going to do any good or not, but it definitely made it a heck of a racetrack. To be able to run the top like that and then you know right after it got fast, the bottom got fast. (It was) a heck of a race between me and Sam (Seawright).”

While the race for the lead between English and Fort Payne, Ala.’s Seawright featured position-swapping sliders early in the race and a side-by-side battle just past halfway, what English couldn’t see once he began to stretch out his lead was that behind him was a dandy battle for the runner-up spot including Seawright, polesitter Spencer Hughes of Meridian, Miss., and Winchester, Tenn., drivers Jadon Frame and Christian Hanger.

Starting 12th — the deepest of all the top-five finishers — Hanger charged forward, entered the top five on the fifth lap and moved to fourth a lap later. Though he was officially scored third on lap 39 only, that doesn’t take into account the number of passes the lead group exchanged before they reached the scoring tower each lap.

“We was coming with a full head of steam for about the first 10-15 laps,” said Hanger, who finished fourth. “And I don't think we really planed out, we just kind of got held up. I wish I could have got by (Hughes) and went on. It definitely got heated there. Like that Jadon (Frame) come out of nowhere. I had no clue that guy was even around us and we was racing so hard I couldn't hardly look at my stick guys. But I mean, you can't complain about the racetrack. That's for sure. I mean, like we was racing three wide, I felt like (all the way) around it.

“It was a lot of moving and shaking. I think Tanner just kind of got out front and controlled there. When Sam had (a cushion) to lean on there, he was pretty good. I thought they was both fixing to wreck. I mean, when Spencer and I closed in on them, we was all right there within a couple car lengths and they was exchanging sliders real hard. I thought they was really fixing to wad ‘em up, especially in (turns) one and two, because you know how tight it gets when you start trying to slide in one and two over there.”

Hughes, making his third feature start for Alabama-based JCM Motorsports, fell behind English on the opening lap and dropped to third on the fourth circuit. He gave up the position to Hanger on lap 39, but regained the spot on the next lap. He was running third on lap 49, the first driver to take advantage when Seawright stumbled just seconds after taking the white flag.

“On the last lap, I hit that hole. There's a hole in the bottom of (turns) one and two and I just caught it wrong,” Seawright said. “I kind of bounced and I got real tight and they was beside me, so I just kind of stayed where I was. I didn't want to, you know, try to overdrive and run over one of them because it was kind of three-wide there, so I just kind of stayed through the middle. I knew I wasn't going to be that good through three and four because it was black through the middle and grip in the bottom and top, but I didn't want to do nothing stupid and take us all out on the last lap.

“But really, just what happened was I just messed up and I hit that hole wrong. We was all so close right there. I just come up on the bad end of it. It sucks. I mean, I don't really get too bent out of shape about it, though, because I mean, as long as your car is fast and you're up there contending for wins like that, they'll come. We raced really hard and I had a lot of fun. So at least they knew I was there because I mean, me and Tanner raced hard for a minute. It was pretty fun.”

Frame was the biggest beneficiary of Seawright’s heartbreaking mishap. He slipped by two competitors to gain a podium finish, repeating his finish from August’s Deep Fried 75 at Duck River.

“It was really fun. I just snuck up on them,” Frame said. “They was battling it out and they left the opening up top and I took it. I'd like to have been in the mix a little more than I was, but my car really come to me there the last five laps and that's whenever I was able to get in the mix. I just wasn't there until the end of the race. (The track prep) was definitely worth it. Early in the night the track was slow, slow. (In the feature) it felt like that was the fastest the track's been all night and it really takes into effect of how good your car really is and how good you are at finding where to be on the racetrack. So it made for one heck of a race.”

Frame said it was “definitely one of the best races (Duck River) had all year” and Seawright called the freshly-prepped surface “perfect.”

“As soon as we were warming the tires up, I got excited because I knew I had a piece under me and I knew the racetrack was good,” Hanger said. “I was like, ‘Oh boy, I'm gonna get to sell some T-shirts right here.’ It's not like one lane was way dominant over the other. So it was cool. I was definitely having fun out there racing because I was able to get all over the place and kind of make stuff happen. The racetrack was good. The racing was good. I think now (track owner Russell Boothe has) got an idea of kind of what to look forward to going into next year.”

“You know, I know people were probably speculating whether (the track prep) was going to do any good or not, but it definitely made it a heck of a racetrack. To be able to run the top like that and then you know right after it got fast, the bottom got fast. (It was) a heck of a race between me and Sam (Seawright).”

— Tanner English, $10,000 Gobbler winner at Duck River

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