Along with the Southern All Star Dirt Racing Series, Smoky Mountain Speedway played host to the United Crate Racing Alliance on Saturday night with a $2,500-to-win event for Late Models carrying crate racing engines. Anthony White walked away as the winner of a race that saw him lead all the way but having to fight off a strong late race challenge.
Kyle Courtney led the way in qualifying among the 21 UCRA cars signed in for competition as he posted a lap of 16.755 seconds around the 4/10 mile clay oval located in Maryville, Tenn. White, Jesse Lowe, Forest Trent and Cruz Skinner rounded out the top-5 in time trials.
Courtney beat out Trent, Greg Huskey and Drew Kennedy to win the night’s first heat race and earn the pole for the feature.
White won out over Skinner, Jordon Horton and Jason Manley in the second heat while Lowe won the third and final heat of the night when he beat Jimmy Elliott, Ashton Winger and Ruben Mayfield to the finish line.
White used his outside front row starting position to grab the early lead at the start of what was supposed to be a 40-lap feature race for this class. Courtney, Trent, Lowe and Elliott followed the early front runner off the initial start of the race.
Trouble struck quickly for two contenders as Horton spun in turn one on the second lap of the race. That incident was followed by Courtney’s car showing signs of smoke as the cars circulated the speedway under caution. After a quick check by a track official, the pole sitter opted to continue in the race.
However, when green flag action resumed, Courtney’s car failed to come back up to speed which resulted in a jam up and spin further back in the pack. Courtney was then forced to retire from the race due to those mechanical issues.
When the green flag waved once more, White went back to the lead with Lowe then charging into the second position ahead of Trent, Elliott and Skinner. White began to pull away and looked as if he might dominate the race over the next several circuits. But once the lead cars began to take on slower traffic, Lowe quickly closed the gap and appeared poised to make a bid for the race lead until a caution flag waved for a spin by Kennedy on lap 14.
Due to time constraints, the feature had to be shortened to 30 laps as the curfew for the track loomed.
The race’s second half ran caution free as White again looked as if he might pull away to an easy win. But just like the earlier green flag session, Lowe’s No. 5J machine closed in on the rear spoiler of the No. 2X and began to threaten for the top spot.
After ducking inside of White multiple times over the closing laps, Lowe made his an attempt to wrest the lead away as the cars roared through turns one and two for the final time. White’s high line through that set of turns but Lowe would not give up. In a final effort, he again drove to the inside of White as they raced through the final set of turns and onto the front straightaway. White just edged Lowe in a side-by-side finish at the checkered flag.
Feature Finish: 1. Anthony White, 2. Jesse Lowe, 3. Forest Trent, 4. Jimmy Elliott, 5. Cruz Skinner, 6. Ruben Mayfield, 7. Rusty Ballenger, 8. Ashton Winger, 9. Jason Manley, 10. Greg Huskey
*Noteworthy about Manley’s finish is that the car of the UCRA points leader coming into the night suffered terminal engine troubles during hot laps. He then was allowed to take over the ride that had originally been entered by driver Greg Martin.
In other racing action, Micah Gavin beat out Derik Duggan, Shannon Ethridge, Tony Coffman and Dustin Holbrooks to collect $1,000 for winning the Kajun Mini-Stocks feature race.