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Richard Smith from Science Hill, KY scored the biggest win in his 23 year racing career as he captured the 30 lap $3000 to win STARS Battle of the Bluegrass presented by Arizona Sport Shirts on Saturday Night at the Thunder Mountain (KY) Speedway. Smith took the lead with just two laps to go from Shawn Martin who also drove a terrific race. Martin came across the line in second place in what almost was a dream come true victory for Martin who had led 28 of the 30 laps he received even worse news at the scales after the event as he came up light relegating him to the 21st finishing position. Smith behind the wheel of the Harlan and Jan Baker of Salem, IN owned MasterSbilt Grand Prix powered by an A.M.S. Racing Engine and sponsored by Baker's Body Shop, Nelson Sealcoating, Partin's and Son Auto Salvage, Baker Enterprises, H&M Wholesale, RA Race Engines, Who Cares Bar and Schmidt Construction and shod with American Race Tires became the third different winner in four STARS Battle of the Bluegrass feature events this season. It was also the first STARS BOB win of the year for MasterSbilt and the fourth in four events for American Race Tires.

Smith's win came over a top five consisting of Timmy Yeager, Bobby Carrier, Jr., point's leader, Jesse James Lay and Joey Daniel. A total of 40 Late Models were on hand for the event.

Shawn Martin grabbed the lead at the start of the feature race which would be a very competitive battle but delayed several times by caution flags. Martin looked to be the car to beat on Saturday Night as he bolted to the point with Lay and Jackie Boggs, a recent RENEGADE winner at KC Speedway, Ohio in tow. The first switch in the top three would take place just a few laps into the event when Richard Smith went flying by Boggs but had to check up on Lay with the results being Boggs getting into the rear of Smith's car. Boggs would pit and rejoin the field on the tail. On the restart it would be a running order of Martin, Lay, Eddie Carrier, Jr. and Smith. Carrier would bypass Lay on the fourth circuit and then set his sights on the highflying Martin. More caution flags would dot the race for various incidents. At the halfway mark of the race it was still Martin showing the way with Carrier breathing down his neck in second. Carrier would start to really pick up his momentum and just when he was attempting to make the pass for the lead on the 18th lap Carrier's left rear tire rolled off the rim. Carrier would pull to the inside of the back straightaway and bring out a caution flag. Carrier would make a dash to the pits and his crew quickly changed to new rubber and rejoined the field on the rear.

With ten laps to go the running order still had Martin leading the way with Smith now up to second place just ahead of Lay and a quick moving Timmy Yeager. Yeager had started 14th in the lineup and through some excellent driving and attrition, he was now in a position to challenge for a win in the closing laps of the race. An exciting battle was now shaping up for the lead of the race with Smith, Yeager and Lay putting all kinds of pressure on the race leader, Martin. RENEGADE driver R.J. Conley was also starting to get his Rocket Chassis in the thick of things running in fifth with eight circuits to go. The race come down to the final two laps and Smith made his winning pass on Martin as the duo headed down the backstretch and to the white flag, Smith would make a clean pass for the lead and Martin would fall back to second, but Martin did not give up and challenged Smith on the final lap with both drivers heading to the finish line with Smith grabbing a one car length win over Martin. Smith who has raced for 23 years was jubilant in victory circle after picking up the biggest win of his racing career and a nice check for $3000. While Smith would cross the scales and make it official Martin's fate was still in doubt over his second place finish. After weighing three times Martin's car came up light all three times which led to his disqualification. In what could have been a terrific win for the young driver it ended in heartbreak losing the race with two laps to go and then not meeting the minimum weight requirements.

With Martin's Disqualification that moved Timmy Yeager up to second in Danny and Diane Preston/C.J. Rayburn #19 to second place. Bobby Carrier, Jr. would take the Harlow Racing/MasterSbilt entry to third with Jesse James Lay maintaining his points lead in the Outlaw Racing/Rocket #33 collecting fourth place cash. Joey Daniel in the Cundiff Steel/Rayburn would get paid for fifth place.

Completing the top ten were Eddie Carrier, Jr., Whitney McQueary, Tim Dohm, R.J. Conley and Brad Neat.

Official Results STARS Battle of the Bluegrass by Arizona Sport Shirts
Saturday Night, May 18, 2002 Thunder Mountain Speedway Olive Hill, KY
Entries: 40
Racing Optics Fast Time: Eddie Carrier, Jr. 16.03
First Heat: Eddie Carrier, Jr., Wayne Hughes, Bobby Carrier, Jr., Joey Daniel
Second Heat: Richard Smith, Johnny Wheeler, Aaron Hatton, Whitney McQueary
Third Heat: Jesse James Lay, R.J. Conley, Doug Smith, Randy Boggs
Fourth Heat: Shawn Martin, Jackie Boggs, Brad Neat, Victor Lee
AFCO First B-main: Joey Daniel, Tim Dohm, Whitney McQueary, David Powers
AFCO Second B-main: Timmy Yeager, Randy Boggs, Dennis Selby, Victor Lee
Feature: 1. Richard Smith-Science Hill, KY Mastersbilt/A.M.S. Race Engines/American Race Tires
2. Timmy Yeager-Harrodsburg, KY
3. Bobby Carrier, Jr.-Harrodsburg, KY
4. Jesse James Lay-Walton, KY
5. Joey Daniel-Liberty, KY
6. Eddie Carrier, Jr.-Leburn, KY
7. Whitney McQueary-Dunnville, KY
8. Tim Dohm-Charleston, WV
9. R.J. Conley-Wheelersburg, OH
10. Brad Neat-Dunnville, KY
11. Aaron Hatton-Mt. Sterling, KY
12. Tyrel Todd-Eubank, KY
3. Randy Boggs-Grayson, KY
14. Tommy Boggs-Grayson, KY
15. Jackie Boggs-Grayson, KY
16. Victor Lee-Stanford, KY
17. Wayne Hughes - Mt. Hope, WV
18. Doug Smith-Somerset, KY
19. Johnny Wheeler-Campbellsville, KY
20. Dennis Selby-Russell Springs, KY
21. Shawn Martin-Maysville, KY

STARS BOB provisionals: Victor Lee (1) Tyrel Todd (2)

Track Provisional: Tommy Boggs

Current Points after 4 events

1. Jesse James Lay 880
2. Timmy Yeager 860
3. Victor Lee 790
4. Joey Daniel 770
5. Eddie Carrier, Jr. 760
6. Richard Smith 750
7. Bobby Carrier, Jr. 735
8. Johnny Wheeler 675
9. Tyrel Todd 655
10. Randy Boggs 650

Race Notes From Thunder Mountain

Drivers making their first feature starts on the STARS Battle of the Bluegrass series this year included Tim Dohm, R.J. Conley, Tommy Boggs, Jackie Boggs, Wayne Hughes and Dennis Selby.

Veteran Late Model driver Jeff Napper from Winchester, KY was out racing for the first time in three years. Napper was wheeling a former Eddie Carrier, Jr. Rocket Chassis powered by a Draime Engine. Napper failed to make the feature event.

Scott Heineman from Clarksville, Indiana crew chief for the Frank Kimmel ARCA Series team made his dirt late model debut at Thunder Mountain. Heineman qualified and ran his heat before loading up before his consy event.

The STARS Battle of the Bluegrass now prepares for a $40,000 purse next weekend with races Friday and Saturday Night at Lake Cumberland Speedway in Burnside, KY and on Sunday Night at McCoy Motor Speedway in Glasgow, KY. The triple-header of racing action will pay the winner of each event $3000 and $250 to start.

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