The NeSmith Dirt Late Model Series made its one and only stop at the I-75 Raceway on Friday night and staged a thrilling race that featured two lead changes in the closing laps before Crossville’s Jesse Lowe emerged with the win over red hot Cory Hedgecock. The race for Crate Late Model cars on the Sweetwater, Tenn. track paid $2,000 to the winner.
Lowe began the night’s festivities by setting fast time in qualifying with a lap of 13.341 seconds around the third-mile clay oval. With the top-12 being locked into the feature via time-trials, Lowe was joined by Marcus Minga, Hedgecock, Colton Horner, Logan Roberson, Jason Manley, Walker Arthur, Matt Henderson, Barry Anderson, Ruben Mayfield, Shep Lucas and Ronnie Johnson on the starting grid.
Kyle Courtney edged Ross White and Grant Garrison in a hotly contested B-main race that was used to set the remainder of the starting lineup.
The initial attempt to start the 40-lap feature was marred by a serious accident when outside front row starter Marcus Minga spun and was sent rolling over until his car came to rest on its top at the end of the backstretch. Barry Anderson’s machine also received significant damage in the incident but both drivers were reported to be uninjured as a result.
When the green was displayed for the second time, Lowe bolted to the lead with Hedgecock muscling his way to second ahead of Horner, Manley and Roberson. Henderson advanced early as he overtook Mayfield to claim seventh on the second lap. At the same time, Lowe and Hedgecock separated themselves from the rest of the pack.
A lap 8 caution for a spin by Andy Picklesimer briefly slowed the action and provided opportunities for drivers to advance on the ensuing restart. One driver to seize that opportunity was Arthur who immediately began applying pressure to Manley in an attempt to take fourth. He eventually did just that on lap 12.
Lowe found himself in heavy traffic during the middle stages of the race but always able to keep slower cars between himself and Hedgecock.
A lap 26 yellow flag set the stage for the dramatic final laps to play out. Two laps after the restart, Hedgecock made a bold outside move to wrest the lead of the race away from Lowe. However, Lowe fought back and tracked Hedgecock down on alp 32. After a lap of side-by-side racing, Lowe’s inside line prevailed and he again went to the top of the leader board.
From that point, Lowe sprinted away to claim the checkered flag.
Feature Finish: 1. Jesse Lowe, 2. Cory Hedgecock, 3. Colton Horner, 4. Walker Arthur, 5. Logan Roberson, 6. Jason Manley, 7. Ruben Mayfield, 8. Grant Garrison, 9. Ross White, 10. Shep Lucas, 11. Jake Knowles, 12. Matt Henderson, 13. Brandon Williams, 14. Ronnie Johnson, 15. T.J. Brittain, 16. Kyle Courtney, 17. Jerry Green, 18 Andy Picklesimer, 19. Marcus Minga, 20. Barry Anderson