MARYVILLE, Tenn. – Anthony Nicholson captured Saturday’s USCS Outlaw Thunder Tour sprint-car feature held at Smoky Mountain Speedway.
The Bartlett, Tenn., native and 2008 USCS Outlaw Thunder TourRookie of the Year stormed by early race leader and eight-time World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series feature winner Danny Smith on lap three of Saturday’s 30-lap main event and took command of the race from there, driving away to his first win of the 2014 season despite a late-race caution with five laps to go.
“Man, this means a lot,” Nicholson said. “We had an awesome race car tonight, and once we got by Danny there right before the caution, we were cooking. The car was so good out front and it could work through traffic well. What an awesome night.”
Smith, from Chillicothe, Ohio, survived a five-lap duel with 10-time USCS National Champion Terry Gray just past halfway to claim the runner-up spot after finishing fourth in Friday night’s main event. Gray completed the podium in third place.
Morgan Turpen, the only female racer in Saturday night’s field, charged from 12th to finish fourth in the main event after her car was nearly destroyed in an opening lap crash Friday night at 411 Motor Speedway. Lance Moss completed the top five drivers at the finish.
The feature was slowed early by a handful of caution periods, with Terry Witherspoon losing the lead to Danny Smith on lap two before looping the car in turn four and stalling at the base of the corner. On the ensuing restart, Nicholson surged to the lead on the high side of turn two before the caution flew for Riggins’ stopped car on the front straightaway. Riggins’ flat tire came while the Charlotte native was running fifth.
Once Riggins’ car was re-fired, the field formed up again and the race’s most serious accident occurred on the backstretch when Turpen and the No. 1 of Freddie McCall Jr. made slight contact, which sent McCall flipping violently down the backstretch and into the entrance of turn three. The force of the crash dislodged the motor from the car, but McCall climbed out of the car under his own power with no injury.
From there, Nicholson blasted away from the field and was unchallenged the rest of the night despite the late-race caution for the stalled car of Shawn Murray in turn four with five laps left.
Anthony Nicholson, Danny Smith, Terry Gray, Morgan Turpen, Lance Moss, Eric Riggins Jr., Brandon McLain, Greg Merritt, Terry Witherspoon, Bob Auld, Aubrey Black, Lukas Smith, Jeff Willingham, Don Smith, Shawn Murray, Nicholas Snyder, Johnny Bridges, Freddie McCall Jr.