Cat Daddy rules Rome, claims first 2012 victory
ROME, Ga. (July 22) — Clint Smith choose a fitting race to end his season-long winless streak.
Racing at one of his favorite racetracks, Smith of Senoia, Ga., turned back Billy Ogle Jr. of Knoxville, Tenn., midway through Sunday’s Schaeffer Oil Southern Nationals Series event at Rome Speedway and pulled away after a late restart on his way to claiming a $5,300 victory at the high-speed, half-mile oval. | Slideshow | Video
After the race, Smith, whose most recent win came at Rome in September, dedicated his slump-busting victory to legendary Georgia announcer and promoter Jimmy Mosteller, who died on July 4.
“I love Rome Speedway. This place is one of my favorites,” said Smith, a regular on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. “It was also one of Jimmy Mosteller‘s favorites. We miss him dearly. We all loved him, and he’s looking down on us tonight.”
Smith led the entire distance of the 53-lap race, which served as the sixth round for the Ray Cook-promoted Southern Nationals series that includes 10 races in 13 days. He crossed the finish line a few car lengths ahead of defending series champion Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C. Vic Hill of Mosheim, Tenn., finished third with Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., and Jason Heitt of Lincoln, Ala., rounding out the top five in a race slowed by just two cautions.
Starting from the pole, Smith pulled ahead of second-starting Ogle on the race’s initial start and opened a comfortable lead in the race’s opening laps. He held a steady advantage through a long green-flag run during the first half of the race and successfully negotiated lapped traffic until the race’s first caution waved when Donald Bradsher of Burlington, N.C., brushed the wall and came to a stop in turns three and four with 29 laps complete.
Ogle and Hill went side by side for second entering turn one on the restart with the two cars making contact. The scramble allowed fourth-running McDowell to briefly make it three wide for the position, but Ogle pulled back ahead and began closing on Smith.
Running a groove higher than Smith, Ogle nearly pulled even for the lead down the back straightaway, but had to give ground when Smith squeezed high entering turn three.
That was as close as anyone got to Smith as he began to again pull away and Ogle began to fade. Hill began applying heavy pressure for second, but Ogle held him off until championship contender Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., slowed to cause the race’s second caution with four laps remaining.
Ogle faded quickly on the restart, dropping outside the top five as Hill moved into to second.
Meanwhile, Madden rallied on the restart, quickly climbing from fifth to third on the high side of the racetrack. He pulled alongside Hill for second on lap 50 and completed the pass as the two drivers made slight contact in turns three and four a lap later.
Madden closed in on Smith in the final two laps, but ran out of time as Smith drove to the third Southern Nationals victory of his career in completing a sweep of the night’s racing program.
“This thing was good right out of the box, set fast time and led all the laps,” Smith said. “I knew they was coming at the end. I had done got the back tires kinda hot so I was just trying to run my line and hold them off.”
Notes: Smith’s RaceTek-powered Rocket Chassis is sponsored by JP Drilling, Cliburn Tank Lines, Ernie D’s Enterprises, Reese Motorsports, SAE Parts and RD1. … Smith’s previous Southern Nationals victories each came at Cleveland (Tenn.) Speedway in 2006 and 2010. … Madden’s runner-up effort earned him his sixth top-three finish in six series events. … The Southern Nationals tour takes a night off Monday before moving to East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phenix City, Ala., for a $3,500-to-win event on Tuesday.
Southern Nationals @ Rome: (1) Clint Smith, (2) Chris Madden, (3) Vic Hill, (4) Dale McDowell, (5) Jason Hiett, (6) Michael Page, (7) Billy Ogle Jr., (8) Derek Ellis, (9) Casey Roberts, (10) Tony Knowles, (11) Kennie Compton Jr., (12) Jody Knowles, (13) Luther Jenkins, (14) Mike Marlar, (15) Dillon Wood, (16) Dale Thurman, (17) Donald Bradsher, (18) Daniel Baggerly, (19) Tyler Milwood, (20) Shane Clanton, (21) Justin McRee, (22) Jake Knowles. Fast qualifier (among 34 cars): Smith, 14.309 seconds. Consolation race winners: McDowell, Madden, Clanton.