In an interview posted on this website earlier in the week, Billy Ogle, Jr. declared that winning races would be his primary goal for the remainder of the 2014 season. He took a significant step toward realizing that goal on Saturday night in the Southern All Stars sanctioned event at the Smoky Mountain Speedway.
Ogle and his Blount Motorsports team would prove dominant as the #201 machine led every lap on the way to the $5,000 payday at the Maryville, Tenn. track.
Ogle began the evening by setting fast time in Group A qualifying and overall with a lap of 15.885 seconds around the 4/10 mile oval. Joining Ogle in being locked into the feature via time-trials from the first group were SAS points leader Riley Hickman, Randy Weaver and Josh Putnam.
Ray Cook led Group B qualifying with a lap of 16.113 seconds to place him ahead of David Payne, Dylan Ames and Tommy Kerr. Those four drivers were also locked into the feature through qualifying.
Mike Marlar and Skip Arp won the two consolation races used to set the remainder of the field for the main event.
The initial attempt to start of the 40-lap feature was marred by a nasty looking accident that was apparently caused by contact on the back stretch between fourth row starters Kerr and Putnam. Kerr’s car wound up flipping wildly into turn three and eventually coming to rest on its roof while Putnam bounced over the dirt berm that surrounds the inner portion of the track.
Kerr walked away from the incident once his car was returned to its upright position. While the field was stopped under a red flag condition, Kerr approached Putnam’s car and the two drivers exchanged words briefly.
Once the race did get underway, Ogle and Cook raced side by side for more than a full lap before Ogle surged to the lead as the cars roared down the back stretch. Meanwhile, Hickman, Payne and Weaver gave chase over the early laps as the 9th starting Marlar began picking off competitors one by one just outside the top-5.
The second caution flag of the night waved on lap 14 when 4th running Weaver’s car came to a sudden stop in turn four. He retired from the event with a mechanical failure.
On the ensuing restart, Marlar got by Hickman to seize the 3rd spot in the running order behind Ogle and Cook. At that point, the field began to string out around the track as drivers logged laps toward the finish.
But with five circuits remaining, Marlar began to make his move around the high side of the track. On lap 38, the #157 car moved past Cook to take the second spot. Then as the cars raced under the white flag, Marlar took a sizeable chunk out of Ogle’s lead. But Ogle would hold on to score his second victory of the 2014 season at Smoky Mountain.
At the finish it was Billy Ogle, Jr. Mike Marlar, Ray Cook(who shredded a right rear tire on the last lap), Riley Hickman, Dylan Ames, Chad Ogle, David Payne, Mark Douglas, Josh Putnam and Todd Morrow.