LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — For the second year in a row, Derek Hagar kicked off I-30 Speedway’s Short Track Nationals by wiring the field in Friday night’s 25-lap Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour preliminary feature.
Earning the pole, Hagar kept his Southern Collision Centre/B&D Towing & Recovery No. 9jr ahead of the carnage that eliminated half of the 20-car feature field to open up the 33rd annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires.
Hagar beat Pennsylvania’s Mark Smith to the line with Canadian Dylan Westbrook rallying from 19th to fill out the podium in third as a field of 78 cars hit the track for STN preliminary action.
“I knew those guys behind me would be coming,” Hagar said. “This isn’t out kind of track, this thing was cowboy up. I found a good line in three and four, I felt like the top was going away and it was just way too far around up there.”
Smith made a brief bid on a restart with ten laps to go but was unable to maintain pace, settling for runner-up honors in the No. m1 Mach 1 chassis.
“We tried something a little different tonight than we did the last time we were here and just ended up with a little too much gear and just kind of lost momentum,” Smith commented afterward.
After starting 19th, Westbrook cracked the top five by the 15th lap then cashed in on second-runner Scott Bogucki’s misfortune and then battled past Howard Moore for third on the 17th round to keep the position the rest of the way.
“The night didn’t start out too good, but we kept on pushing for it and turned out real good for us,” Westbrook explained after the show finish in the Hills Racing No. 47x.
Moore edged Jordan Mallett at the line by inches for fourth with Garet Williamson, Matt Covington, 20th-starter Ayrton Gennetten, Brad Bowden, Charlie Louden and Devon Borden the cars remaining as the checkered flag flew.
Feature (25 Laps – Starting position in parentheses): 1. 9jr-Derek Hagar (1), 2. M1-Mark Smith (7), 3. 47x-Dylan Westbrook (19), 4. 3-Howard Moore (10), 5. 14m-Jordon Mallett (17), 6. 24g-Garet Williamson (5), 7. 95-Matt Covington (14), 8. X3-Ayrton Gennetten (20) 9. 2-Brad Bowden (18), 10. X-Charlie Louden (13), 11. 8-Devon Borden (12), 12. 28-Scott Bogucki (4), 13. 77x-Alex Hill (9), 14. 9$-Kyle Clark (15), 15. 17w-Harli White (2), 16. 47-Dale Howard (6), 17. 52-Blake Hahn (11), 18. 26-Marshall Skinner (3), 19. G6-Cody Gardner (8), 20. 55b-Brandon Anderson (16).