WHEATLAND, Mo. — Wesley Smith a led all the way, but had to hold on during a two-lap shootout at the finish, to take the Lucas Oil POWRi WAR sprint car feature victory during night two of the 11th annual Jesse Hockett/Daniel McMillin Memorial at Lucas Oil Speedway.
It was a dramatic finish after Smith’s car appeared to lose fluid and second-place Cody Baker flipped his car as he gave chase with two laps left.
“This is a really nice way to cap things off going into tomorrow night,” Smith said. “We might have to come back with a new engine tomorrow, but hopefully this is a prelude of what’s to come.”
Smith posted his fifth WAR Series victory of the season.
Smith started outside of row one and set the pace, with Baker moving into second on lap two with Jack Wagner in third as a caution waved on lap three. Smith opened a two-second gap over Baker by lap 10 with Xavier Doney moving into third.
The fifth-starting Baker began gradually cutting into the margin he was within a second of the leader with 10 to go and to a half-second with five circuits remaining.
As the two came to the start-finish line to complete lap 23, a puff of smoke came out of Smith’s car and Baker, about two lengths behind, flipped going into turn one after apparently getting into fluid escaping from Smith’s engine.
“He went in and I don’t know if he blew a motor up or what, and put some oil down,” Baker said. “I skated right into the wall. We had a good run going.”
The sequence elevated Doney into second and Jack Wagner into third and Just Zimmerman fourth as two green-flag laps remained.
With questions about Smith’s motor hanging over the restart, he answered them by hanging on and beating Doney by 1.4 seconds at the finish.
Wagner wound up third, Zimmerman was fourth and championship points leader Marion Clouser fifth after starting 20th.
“That’s a good question. I still don’t know,” Smith said of what happened to his motor in the waning laps. “I just know the engine got really hot. It’s a testament to the team I have behind me and the car we brought to this race.”
Feature (25 laps): 1. 44-Wesley Smith; 2. 74-Xavier Doney; 3. 77-Jack Wagner; 4. 1#-Justin Zimmerman; 5. 6-Mario Clouser; 6. 36T-Trey Robb; 7. 51B-Joe B Miller; 8. 5D-Zach Daum; 9. 11W-Wyatt Burks; 10. 24LCR-Chris Morgan; 11. 5C-Colten Cottle; 12. 79X-Keith Martin; 13. 20G-Noah Gass; 14. 28-Kory Schudy; 15. 5-Jesse Vermillion; 16. 91-Riley Kreisel; 17. 1-Paul White; 18. 16-Anthony Nicholson; 19. 27-Steve Thomas; 20. 73-Samuel Wagner; 21. 9-Cody Baker; 22. 73V-Blake Vermillion; 23. 11X-Tom Curran