Hafertepe, Courtney, Hedgecock get Smoky Mountain wins

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Smoky Mountain Speedway welcomed the Lucas Oil American Spring Car Series for their first ever visit to the historic speedway. When the night was over, Sam Hafertepe Jr. on Sunnyvale, Texas was the big winner.

The night started out 19 cars signed in for the $4,000 to win race. Brian Bell, Wayne Johnson, and Hafertepe were the heat race winners.

When the green flag waved for the 30-lap race, it was Johnson that jumped out to the early lead over Hafertepe. A caution quickly waved on lap 2 for a spin for Michael Miller. The field was realigned and Johnson again roared to the lead. Johnson built a sizeable lead until the leaders encountered slower traffic. Hafertepe began to slowly reel in Johnson. As the lead two sliced through slower traffic, Johnson had trouble getting around the #00 of Tristan Lee. Hafertepe pressured Johnson for the lead. Johnson tried to dive below Lee, but his car would not hold the bottom lane. Johnson slid up the track and Hafertepe zipped by to take the lead.

Wayne Johnson (2) and Sam Hafertepe Jr. (15) battle for the lead.

The final caution of the race was on lap 16 when Johnson, still running second place, made contact with the turn 1 wall and flipped several times before coming to a rest on all four tires. Johnson was fine, but the same could not be said for the #2 machine.

Wayne Johnson takes a wild ride.

The race resumed with Hafertepe with a comfortable lead until Friday night’s winner at Crossville Speedway, Blake Hahn, began to close in as the laps wound down. Hafertepe was too strong and held on for the win. Hahn was second followed by Aaron Reutzel, Johnny Herrera, and Matt Covington.

Johnny Herrera (45X) and Brian Bell (23B).

The KMSA was also on hand for another $1,200 to win race for the four cylinders. Derik Duggan and Michael Courtney sat on the front row as the field came to the green.

Duggan took the lead with Courtney nipping close by in second. The front duo races nose-to-tail for the two laps until Courtney dropped to the bottom to pressure Duggan for the lead. The pair raced side-by-side for the lead for several laps until Courtney cleared Duggan on lap 6. Duggan tried to remain close but it was Courtney’s night as he went on to take the win. Duggan was second, Dustin Stephens finished third, Knight Brannon was fourth, and Marcus Thompson rounded out the top five.

Michael Courtney (c11) battles Derik Duggan (7) for the lead.

The crate late models took to the track for a $1,000 to win race. Cory Hedgecock claimed the pole for the 20-lap race and was joined on the front row by Kyle Courtney.

When the green flag waved, Courtney appeared to grab the early lead. But it was deemed he jumped the start and the field was lined back up. As the green waved again, Hedgecock got the lead over Courtney as the field raced through the first corners. Courtney soon faced pressured from Jimmy Elliott for second until a caution on lap 6 ended the battle.

Kyle Courtney (171) and Jimmy Elliott (J39) battle for second.

The restart came to a quick close as fourth place runner Justin French made contact with the wall on the back stretch to bring out another caution. As the race resumed, Hedgecock sailed away as Courtney and Elliott resumed their battle for second. Courtney held off Elliott’s challenge and put some distance to comfortably hold onto second. This night belonged to Cory Hedgecock who took home the checkers. Courtney and Elliott filled out the top 3 with Bradley Lewelling and Jason Melton rounding out the top five.

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