Sammy Smith pulls away late for ARCA victory at Southern National

LUCAMA, NC – Sammy Smith took the lead from pole-sitter Mason Diaz on the 132nd lap of Saturday’s 200-lap ARCA Menards Series East race at Southern National Motorsports Park and pulled away for the victory – his first at Southern National.

Smith, driving for the dominant Joe Gibbs Racing team, entered Saturday night’s Solid Rock Carriers 200 with two wins on the season – one at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida, and the second at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville in Tennessee.  Smith started the race in the sixth position and methodically worked his way up through the field during the first two stages.  In the early laps of the third stage, he was able to make the move on Diaz and drive away for the win in dominant fashion, leaving only one other car on the lead lap.

“We didn’t qualify very good and then, I kind of had to find my way up to the front,” Smith told The Wilson Times in victory lane.  “I was in second for a while and honestly, I thought [Diaz] was better than us the first two stages.  I was pushing it 125 percent and I couldn’t catch him, he was better.  Then the guys made really good adjustments.  I did a lot of stuff in the car and that helped.  He made a mistake off of turn four and I was able to get him.”

Smith, who had only one prior start at Southern National entering Saturday’s race said part of his success in the final stage was him figuring out the track, along with the adjustments made by his Joe Gibbs Racing team.

“The first 125 laps, I was learning the track and what it would do,” Smith said.  “I was really free, even there at the end, entering the turn and on center-exit.  The guys did a really good job tightening it up.  We didn’t finish very good last time we were here.  Last time they laid PJ1 down, I think it’s better without it.  Thanks to Mason and his dad for bringing us a great facility and getting it cleaned up.”

Joey Iest finished in second while Rajah Caruth, Parker Retzlaff and Justin S. Carroll rounded out the top five.

Clay Jones picked up the win in Saturday’s 50-lap Charger race after making a late-race pass on Michael O’Brien.  Jones’ win came a couple of weeks after a Late Model victory at Wake County Speedway in his first race back since being injured and hospitalized after an off-roading accident earlier this year.

“Hard work pays off,” Jones said.  “We’ve done a ton of work, rolled this thing out a couple of weeks ago and were way off.  We found some bugs and problems and never quit and it got us where we’re at now.  I was in pretty bad shape after wrecking my dirt bike.  I was laid up in Greenville for three days and honestly didn’t know how long it would be before I walked.  I had an awesome, speedy recovery thanks to the good Lord above.  He has blessed me and I can’t thank him enough for it.”

O’Brien finished second while Mike Ganoe, Dylan Newsome and Cody Griffin rounded out the top-five.

Dwight Sauls picked up the Vintage Modified win in the Southern Ground Pounders feature while Christopher Werner won in Vintage Sportsman, and in the East Coast Flathead Ford feature, the Modified win went to Johnny Johnson with Jerry Stroud winning in Sportsman.

Sammy Smith crosses the checkered flag at Southern National Motorsports Park. (Andy Marquis photo)

ARCA Results

  1. Sammy Smith
  2. Joey Iest
  3. Rajah Caruth
  4. Parker Retzlaff
  5. Justin S. Carroll
  6. Daniel Dye
  7. Mason Diaz
  8. Mason Mingus
  9. Davey Callihan
  10. Max Gutierrez
  11. Boo Boo Dalton
  12. Morgan Alexander
  13. Stephanie Moyer
  14. Owen Smith
  15. Brad Smith
  16. Wayne Peterson

Charger Results

  1. Clay Jones
  2. Michael O’Brien
  3. Mike Ganioe
  4. Dylan Newsome
  5. Cody Griffin
  6. Gator Williams
  7. Chance Carpenter
  8. Holland Haddock
  9. Austin Ferrell
  10. Billy Slater