PORT ROYAL – Stevie Smith earned the second Port Royal Speedway Tuscarora 50 of his career Saturday in convincing style with a flag-to-flag victory in the 44th annual running of the track's prestigious season-ending event.
Smith, a native of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, scored a clean sweep of the night by claiming his heat race, worth $300; the dash, worth $100; and the feature worth $11,000 plus lap money; making his take on the night worth nearly $13,000. The victory was the 11th of Smith’s career at the track and his second in the Tuscarora 50; he also won the event back in 1988. His father, Steve Smith, was the 50 champion in 1975.
In the 20-lap AB Auto Glass late model main it was Danville’s Jeff Rine coming out on top to notch his third checkers of the year at the oval.
Smith earned the pole for the Jake’s Carts/AB Auto Glass Tuscarora 50 by winning the dash and drove into the lead at the drop of the green flag. He was chased from the start by second-starter Justin Henderson and 2007 winner Doug Esh. Although he never led, Henderson did narrow Smith’s advantage to a few car lengths at times with Esh just behind. Late in the race, Danny Dietrich began chomping into the front two cars’ advantage and with four to go he bit fast and drove by Henderson with a low move out of the second corner. Over the final two miles, Aspers’ Dietrich cut into Smith’s lead dramatically but came up short of time to pull off the victory, instead finishing within striking distance as the bridesmaid.
Justin Henderson was third followed by Esh.
Racing for the track title with 11 laps to go, Mike Wagner moved into the top-five after getting by Shaffer to finish there and end his night as the 2011 track champion by a scant 15-point margin over Perkasie’s Ryan Taylor.
Sixth through 10th went to Shaffer, Daryn Pittman, Lance Dewease, Chad Layton and Greg Hodnett. Heats worth $300 for the 45-car field went to Smith, Shaffer, TJ Winegardner, Wagner and Esh. The B Main was taken by Brent Marks.
As the chosen Hard Luck driver of the feature, Blane Heimbach picked up just over $1,000 in cash as the prize award. After starting ninth in the stellar field, he wrestled his way forward to break into the top five only to suffer a flat tire.
Four-time 50 champion Fred Rahmer received the $2,000 Ed Swartz Memorial Hard Charger Award. After squeezing out the final transfer spot in the B Main, Rahmer started 24th in the feature and drove forward to 11th to earn the honors.
Mike Wagner was also declared the 60th annual Foss Jewelers Labor Day Classic champion by virtue of his run in the Tuscarora 50. After the individual event itself was rained out on Labor Day, the driver with the best average in all races run at the track during Labor Day week from September 3 through 10 was used to determine the champion.Coupled with his September 3 finish of fifth, and a fifth in the Tuscarora 50; Wagner walked off with the title and a $500 prize.
Danville’s Jeff Rine got by polesitter Bob Dunn on the second lap after starting fifth in the late model main. Once in front, Rine took his third win of the season at the oval over Mitch Hack, Dunn, Mike Lupfer and Todd Snook. Sixth through 10th went to Steve Campbell, Andy Haus, Eric Zembower, Chris Casner and Scott Haus.
By entering competition, Hamburg’s Haus notched an unprecedented eighth track title in the division.
Heats for the 31-car late model field went to Matt Parks, Rine and Chad Hollenbeck. Bobby Stokes took the consolation race.
After suffering a rainout on Friday night, Brian Towsey is the 2011 Miller’s Auto Parts pro stock track champion. Jen Powell scored the Juniata Tire Sales Enduro Dash track title on September 3.
Information used in this story was provided by Shawn Brouse/Port Royal Speedway. Video used in this report is courtesy of www.SportsPlusVideo.com and Lynn Schaeffer Productions.