By Dylan Coyle
WHIP Radio Assistant Sports Director Dylan Coyle reports from Pocono Raceway on the latest in the Gander Outdoors 400 race weekend
Zane Smith’s trip to Victory Lane at Pocono almost ended four laps before the race was official.
With a one-second advantage built up over ARCA Series points leader and teammate Sheldon Creed, Smith got loose coming off turn three. Creed was able to cut down the gap heading into turn one, and both drivers went side-by-side for the lead.
Both were desperate. With an impending storm approaching and the halfway mark of the 60-lap race just five miles away, this battle was going to decide the winner.
Smith tried blocking Creed all the way down into the pits on the long Pocono frontstretch, but Creed wouldn’t back off. He was able to stick his nose out in front in the middle of the turn, but he ran too deep. He slid all the way up to the wall, tapping Smith’s left-rear quarter panel in the process, and fell over a half-a-second behind Smith.
“People will whine about that stuff,” Smith said while climbing out of his car. “But, in my opinion, that’s badass racing.”
The caution came out on lap 32 for rain, and it was deemed official on lap 33.
Smith, who came into the race second in the championship, has now cut down on Creed’s 185-point lead. It’s his fourth victory of the season, the most of any driver in the ARCA field, and it’s provided some much-needed relief following his 14th-place finished at Elko just a few weeks before.
Gus Dean, who came into the weekend sixth in the championship, spun early in the race and lost out in a big way, finishing 27th in the 29-car field. Dean’s pole position proved to be fruitless, and his spin has opened the door for Natalie Decker to take over Dean’s spot in the standings. Decker, who started the weekend 45 points behind Dean, overcame an axle issue to finish 15th, the last car on the lead lap.
There are six races remaining in the ARCA Racing season, with the next one to be held on dirt on August 19th at the Illinois State Fairgrounds for the Allen Crowe 100.
This article was written, researched, and published by WHIP Radio Assistant Sports Director Dylan Coyle. If you wish to interact with Dylan, you can reach him on Twitter at @DylanRCoyle.
Photo: ARCA Racing Series