High line racer Matt Smith took the long way to an exciting victory over a quality field of Super Saloon Car rivals at Baypark Speedway on Saturday night.
Smith (Thames) had been a consistent front-runner through the first two nights of the Barry Muir’s Furniture Gallery Super Saloon Car Series. He came into the final round in fifth position and retained that ranking in the two heat races on Saturday to line up in the first pair to contest the six-car Pole Shuffle shootout.
Minutes later Smith had defeated five rivals in a sequence of quick-fire one-on-one matches and deposed series leader Chris Cowling (Tauranga) from the pole position.
It was a confidence boost for the 20-lap final and Smith stayed committed to his high line driving style as Cowling gave chase on the inside and occasionally pushed his nose alongside the leader.
Smith stayed out wide at full throttle and held his nerve.
“I knew if I moved down and tried to block him, I’d make a mistake and he’d get past,” Smith said.
“I’m much more comfortable running out wide and after the Pole Shuffle I knew the track would be fast up there for the feature. I just had to hope the bottom groove would wear out faster than the top.”
Smith’s tactics paid dividends and he pipped Cowling to bank the $3000 series winner’s purse.
“This season I have focused on being consistent and not missing the set-ups. There are so many fast cars here [Baypark] and you can’t miss the set-up and be competitive.”
Cowling’s chase included the fastest lap of the race but he came up short by 0.28secs at the chequered flag.
“Racing the top and bottom are two totally different driving styles. Our car was working well on the bottom and Matt built up momentum out wide and he drove a great race,” he said.
The second half of the final saw Tauranga’s Dan Corrin battle with former national champ Peter Dickson (Tauranga) with Corrin grabbing the $1000 third place prize with three laps to go. Reigning national champ Sam Waddell (Tauranga) finished fifth ahead of Hawke’s Bay racer Chase Rodda.
Hamilton’s Daniel Thomas became the fifth different Sprint Car feature race winner in as many nights this season. After edging ahead of Tokoroa’s James Dahm on lap two, Thomas raced to victory in the 20-lapper ahead of Tauranga’s Rodney Wood and Colin Entwisle.
Stock Car feature race honours went to Marc Dunn who timed his moves through the lapped traffic to stay head of Johnny Morley and Michael Stock.
Next meeting is the Sprint Car Gold Cup 05th Jan 2021. Gates open 5pm, racing starts 6.30pm. With tickets available at the gate