Race fans packed Bobby Watson’s Carteret County Speedway Saturday September 3rd in part to catch a glimpse of NASCAR legend Bobby Labonte, one of 18 SMART Tour Modified drivers to take the green in the inaugural 99-Lap Pace-O-Matic SMART Modified “Carteret Clash!”
Leading up to the green flag Labonte had pretty much owned the stage! After posting the top qualifying time for a post position, Labonte’s fan’s formed a huge line to greet the Hall of Famer who obliged with selfies and autographs.
As expected Labonte dominated the start of the race and midway through the 99 laps remained the leader, holding off challenges from the likes of Brandon Ward, Burt Meyers and Brian Lofton.
However, what seemed to be setting up as a winning weekend for Labonte took a racing turn when Labonte’s seat belts became loose and he was forced to exit the race during a caution and was never able to recover and Labonte would finish 10th.
Brian Lofton seized the moment and raced to victory edging Burt Myers by 0.177 seconds to capture the “Carteret Clash”. Gary Putnam was third just over four seconds back.
Meantime there was another highlight Saturday night provided by a 12 year old Legend driver by the name of Joel Smith. Smith pulled a double-double on the night winning both 20-lap Legend races outlasting Brenton Irving both times.
Smith led wire to wire in the first Legend feature out pacing Irving by three tenths of a second and then breezed to a three second win over Irving in the nightcap. Joel Smith, a great example of the up and coming young racers being developed at Carteret County Speedway.
The Bombers and UCAR’s were also in action Saturday night.
In the UCAR division Dustin Jolly appeared out for a stroll taking a five second lead over the field just five laps into the race.
That’s when Steve Sullivan in the 58-car got serious and for the last few laps was pretty much bumper to bumper with Jolley who held on to win the 20 lap feature by less than half a second.
As for the Bombers it was all Ricky Houser in the 19 car. Houser bested Cornell Williams by just over one second. Houser led the race for 19 of 20 laps, surviving a side by side restart on lap 14 when Williams bolted to the front before Houser hauled him in on lap 15 and held him off for the final five laps to bring home the trophy.
The next big race night at Carteret County Speedway is Saturday September 24th the “Bobby Watson Memorial”. For more go to cartaretspeedway.com.