Brian Smith scores first big win in wild Buddy Rogers Memorial

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Brian Smith scored his first Late Model feature win at Tazewell

The Southern Nationals Bonus Series and Iron-Man Challenge Late Model Series joined forces on Sunday night to sanction the 9th Annual Buddy Rogers Memorial at Tazewell Speedway. At the end of what proved to be a crazy feature race, Brian Smith came away from the super high-banked facility located in upper east Tennessee as the winner of the Super Late Model event and collected $4,400 for his efforts.

Jonathan Rowan led the way in Group A qualifying and earned the pole position for the feature when he posted a fast lap of 11.617 seconds around the third-mile clay oval. Donald McIntosh, Dakotah Knuckles, Carder Miller and Levi Ashby followed Rowan in time-trials.

Billy Ogle, Jr. secured the outside front row starting spot by leading Group B qualifying with a lap of 11.584 seconds to better the efforts of Mack McCarter, Brian Smith, Austin Neely and Steve Smith in that group.

Ogle took the lead at the start of the 44-lap feature with Rowan, McCarter, McIntosh and Knuckles following closely behind. A caution flag waved just after the completion of the first circuit when Daniel Shelton spun in turn two. Further, the prone car was then clipped by the leading machine of Ogle, doing damage to the right rear of the No. 201.

Billy Ogle, Jr. and Jonathan Rowan(56) battle on the first lap

On the ensuing restart, McIntosh spun in turn two and was sent to the rear of the field as a result, setting up a charge through the field that looked as if it would produce a winner.

Neely spun on lap 4 to bring the yellow flag back out. On that restart, McIntosh began his move toward the front as he passed by Brian Smith to claim 5th only to have the move negated when another caution flag was displayed on lap 5 when McCarter tagged the outside wall in turn four while racing with Rowan for second.

When the green waved once more on lap 5 McIntosh again moved by Brian Smith, this time for fourth, and this time the move counted. And just one lap later, McIntosh moved his No. 7m machine around Knuckles to seize the runner-up spot behind Ogle.

McIntosh(7M) passed Knuckles on lap 6

The curse for those running within the top-5 once again claimed another victim when on lap 7 the second running Rowan broke a drive shaft to end his night and again bring out a yellow flag.

The race saw a stretch of consecutive green flag laps following the lap 7 restart that would allow McIntosh to apply heavy pressure on the race leading car of Ogle. Finally on lap 15, McIntosh moved to the outside and swept by Ogle to take the lead. At that point McIntosh looked as if he would drive off into the sunset as he quickly built a big lead over his pursuers.

In the meantime, Steve Smith, Chad Ogle and David Payne engaged in a fierce battle for 5th while at the same time gaining on fourth running Brian Smith. On lap 32, Chad Ogle moved around Brian Smith to claim fourth just after he and Steve Smith had swapped positions on a couple of occasions in the preceding laps.

But the entire complexion of the race would change on lap 34. As McIntosh continued to set a torrid pace that saw him threaten to lap the entire field, disaster struck. Chad Ogle bounced into and off of the fourth turn wall as he raced for position within the top-5. As his No. 25 car slid across the track it collected Ashby, who made hard contact. And with the track virtually blocked, McIntosh found himself with no where to go other than into the inside retaining wall, damaging the nose of his car and ending his night.

The battered cars of Ashby and McIntosh following the lap 34 incident

Billy Ogle, Jr. then inherited the lead once again, but that would be short lived. When the field went back to green flag racing, Ogle’s car failed to come up to speed and he was bypassed by Knuckles and virtually the entire field before retiring to the infield pit area.

David Payne then appeared to be poised to collect another Tazewell Speedway win as he darted around Knuckles on the outside to take the top spot o the leader board. Knuckles then brought out a caution when he spun at the exit of turn two.

Payne’s good fortune would not last as his car slowed to a stop after the lap 38 restart. It was at that time Brian Smith found it to be his turn to lead the race. He was able to maintain the advantage over the final six laps to earn his first ever Super Late Model checkered flag.

Brian Smith and crew celebrate in victory lane

Feature Finish: 1. Brian Smith, 2. Steve Smith, 3. Dakotah Knuckles, 4. Carder Miller, 5. Austin Neely, 6. Joey Standridge, 7. Phil Helton, 8. Jeff Neubert, 9. David Payne, 10. Clyde Overholt, 11. Billy Ogle, Jr., 12. Donald McIntosh, 13. Levi Ashby, 14. Chad Ogle, 15. Jonathan Rowan, 16. Mack McCarter, 17. Chicky Barton, 18. Jody Horton, 19. Daniel Shelton, 20. Mitchell Burke

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