MERCER, Penn. – Dustin Smith nipped local favorite Brandon Spithaler by .014 seconds to win the Buckeye Machine Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series event Saturday at Mercer Raceway Park.
Smith’s win snapped a two-race streak for Spithaler at his home track.
“I had no clue he was there,” Smith said of Spithaler after the finish.
“I saw the wheel and I said, ‘Where did he come from?'”
Arnie Kent and Dustin Smith had the front row, but it was Spithaler who made the bold move on the initial start. He was beside Kent entering turn one, but a caution for Bob McMillin nullified his advantage. When the race did start, Dustin Smith was better prepared. He grabbed the lead, with Kent and Spithaler in tow.
Spithaler closed in on Dustin Smith in the middle stages of the event, but after cartwheeling through turn three a couple of times, be took a more conservative line for the next several circuits. That enabled Smith to pull away and Kent to regain second. Mike Miller, the current series points leader, then came to life and he passed defending track champion Jack Sodeman, Jr. for fourth. Miller began to battle Spithaler for third.
With five laps left, Spithaler went back to his aggressive line through turns three and four. Keeping all four wheels on the ground, he passed Kent and he immediately began chopping away at Smith’s considerable lead.
When the white flag flew, Spithaler was coming and he entered the third turn with a full head of steam. Smith came off the bottom of the fourth corner with a slight advantage, and Spithaler was riding the cushion. They raced side by side to the wire, and Smith was declared the winner based upon the transponder read-out.
Spithaler was pleased with his performance, considering that he lost his brakes midway through the race. “I had the car up off the ground a couple of times, and I thought that I may have broken something. That may be when the brakes went away.”
Kent confirmed Spithaler’s guess.
“Brandon was tough on the outside, and there wasn’t that much there, he just kept hitting it and hitting it, and I think he did lose his brakes out in the corner,” he said. “I did see a big puff of steam, and he did a heck of a job without the brakes.”
Jimmy Holden grabbed the early lead and held control throughout the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified event.
Jimmy Morris held off three-time winner Michael Bauer in the Bonnell’s Rod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors. Pat Fielding claimed his first win of the season in the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars. Caleb Hickok passed Tim Callahan with two rounds left for the win in the Mini Stocks presented by Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles.