Hot Laps And Tempers For SMART At Franklin County

Close quarters and tight racing mixed with long time veterans and new personalities made for some friction out in the hills of Franklin County. The Kenny Minter Classic / SMART Modified Tour brought the show on the track and the series stars added some post race heat. The Carolina Crate Modifieds added to the racing and the post race heat.

For the Friday leading into Memorial Day weekend, former and present NASCAR Cup stars Ryan Newman and Ryan Preece shared the spotlight with series regulars like Burt and Jason Myers, Joey Coulter, Matt Hirschman and Brian Lofton. It was the younger drivers, however, that made the front at the finish.

Luke Baldwin qualified fastest but the draw put him in the 2nd row behind Preece. Brandon Ward and Carson Loftin were on the outside in row one and two. The front order ran for the first quarter of the race but Baldwin pushed around Preece by lap 30. Approaching the midway point, the #77 with Preece had begun to falter. Baldwin held the front as Preece fell back to the back half of pack. Ryan Newman was in the third slot chasing Baldwin and Carson Loftin.

With a quarter of the race to go Baldwin had worked around Preece again to put the #77 a lap down. Ryan Newman had gotten by Loftin to hold the 2nd slot. The #21 of Jimmy Wallace brought a caution with 26 to go and gave Preece the free pass back to the lead lap.

The restart bunched and went high on turn two crowding Newman on the brake as Baldwin had to run high which gave Carson Loftin the opening to take the front with a bump on Baldwin. Newman fell back to 6th as Preece began the work to come forward. With 11 to go, Burt Myers was getting under Jonathan Cash and came out of turn two hard and sideways taking Cash with him as Preece braked and got by both of them.

The restart with 10 to go had Loftin and Baldwin starting the pack. As they came around turn 4 on the retart lap the #99 of Jimmy Blewett ran high and contacted the #77 of Preece spinning the middle of the field and putting Preece outside and back hard on the inside wall. A red flag stopped the race while Preece’s damaged ride was removed.

Tom Buzze in the #25 was on the outside of Loftin with 9 to go. Luke Baldwin and Danny Bohn had the 2nd row. The battle of bumpers was behind Loftin as he held the lead to the finish. Buzze fell back to 6th with Luke Baldwin, Danny Bohn, Joey Coulter and Ryan Newman set the top five behind Loftin.

Ryan Newman had an altercation with Luke Baldwin following the race. Or, perhaps, tried to as he was upset over some driving between himself and Baldwin. The elder Tommy Baldwin Jr. jumped in the middle holding Newman away from his son. The men shouted some harsh words as Newman insisted it was the younger Baldwin he wanted to talk to. They were separated and went on about the night.

The Legends field it was Chris Lilly with Ethan Truell on the front row. After 40 laps it was the same as Lilly took the checkers with Truell following.

The Carolina Crates closed the show with another heated run and even more altercations. The race ran behind Dale Ogburn, for the most part. With 12 to go Richie Cooper and Brian Webber turned sideways around turn four to bring a caution.

Ogburn and Cody Norman had the front for the restart. Ogburn again pushed forward while two through five were pushing each other for position. It went too close with 7 to go as Slate Myers and Paul Hall made contact in turn two and Myers went around on the pass.

It gets weird now… With the spin and scoring, the #14 of Slate Myers was set back several spots to trail the top ten. The caution continued to run as Myers did not respond to race control commands to fall back from the fourth position. He kept turning the circuit in the 4th spot until the black flag was pulled. Being told to exit he did fall back and a restart went under way. Ogburn again took the lead and the close racing bunched the field again as the #12 of Cody Norman on an outside pass position went loose and around. The mash up caused several cars to stop in a tangle out of turn two.

With cars stopped under a red flag with 6 to go, a crowd gathered at turn one as the Slate Myers crew and his father, Burt Myers, began a heated conversation with officials over the position, start and black flag issue. This led to punches thrown by someone and a bit of a free for all with officials and crews swinging. It cooled eventually with some bruises on bodies and egos but it also forced officials to call the race as run.

The Carolina Crate Modified finishing order top five: Dale Ogburn, James Blewett, Gabe Saavedra, Paul Hall, Jody Utt

Photos from the FoxFire Towing Kenny Minter Classic – May 24, 2024