Sammy Smith Passes Mason Diaz Late to Tally Third Victory of 2021 at Southern National

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By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer

Sammy Smith was able to rocket off on the last restart of the night to earn his third career victory of 2021. During that final break period, Mark McFarland and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing crew made an adjustment that just clicked and propelled the No. 18 to the lead and ultimately the victory at Southern National Motorsports Park.

Joey Iest, Rajah Caruth, Parker Retzlaff, and Justin Carroll rounded out the top-five. Three of the top-five finishers, Iest, Caruth, and Retzlaff, all tallied career-best finishes Saturday Night. 

Mason Diaz earned his first career General Tire Pole Award earlier in the day and led the field to green alongside the No. 11 of Mason Mingus making his first start in the East Series since Nashville last month. Smith found his way through the field, after starting sixth and managed to sit second by lap 30.

Fenders were heavily used Saturday Night on the short track in Lucama, North Carolina throughout the entire night including between Daniel Dye and Mingus. 

Ross “Boo Boo” Dalton spun in turn four on lap 53 putting out the only accident-related caution flag of the night. Diaz would once again rocket out with the lead and would keep the lead through the second part of the race. When the third yellow of the night was displayed, the final adjustments would decide who would go to victory lane. 

The rocket ship that Smith seemed to be missing in the first two parts of the race, came to life as he passed Diaz for the lead. He didn’t only pass Diaz but lapped up to the second-place car. Without much of a fight, in the end, Smith was able to coast away to his third victory of 2021. 

Photo: Brandon Zumbach 

Christian Koelle
Christian Koelle makes his debut with Kickin' the Tires in 2021 contributing ARCA Menards Series content. Koelle has been involved in the NASCAR Media scene since 2015 working for multiple outlets. Along with Kickin' in 2021, he joins Overbey Photography shooting photos in all three NASCAR series for clients. His favorite tracks include Nashville Superspeedway, Barber Motorsports Park, Iowa Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, and Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.

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