With just 3 weeks remaining in the 2021 season, the point battle between Rusty Poland and Gary Smith continued to heat up at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on Saturday night.
Coming into the night, Poland’s point lead over Gary Smith was only 5 points, meaning that every single spot on the track for the heat AND feature were crucial for both drivers.
Saturday also kicked off the drivers lining up for the heat races by points in the Pro Series, so both Poland and Smith started the heat at the tail-end of the field.
Travis Buzzell held the early lead in the 12-lap qualifying heat, but Dave Oliver was quick to steal it away. Corey Bubar was also on the move early, challenging Buzzell for the runner-up spot on lap 5 as Gary Smith trailed closely behind. Buzzell was able to hold off Bubar as Oliver scored the heat victory.
Gary Smith and Rusty Poland rounded out the top five, resulting in Poland’s point lead being cut down to just 4 points going into the feature race.
Dave Oliver took off with the early lead in the 40 lap feature as Corey Bubar and Travis Buzzell duked it out for the runner-up spot behind him. Bubar held strong, pulling away with the advantage on lap 2.
Gary Smith was on the move on lap 4, advancing to fourth over Rusty Poland. Poland held back for a few laps before pulling back up to Smith’s door on lap 7, refusing to give up without a fight. Smith pulled ahead with the advantage on lap 12 as Poland fought to fend off both Alan Tardiff and Wyatt Alexander.
Poland was successful in his endeavors and made his way to Gary Smith’s inside door once again on lap 17. The two drivers battled it out side by side until they made contact on the front stretch on lap 26, resulting in Rusty Poland taking a spin. The incident resulted in a late-race caution.
Dave Oliver pulled away with the lead on the restart as Travis Buzzell and Corey Bubar reignited their battle for the runner-up spot.
Rusty Poland fought is way back through the field, making his way back to Gary Smith’s door following their previous scuffle. The two drivers fought it out until Poland pulled away with the advantage on lap 35.
Alan Tardiff was on the move in the closing laps, challenging Corey Bubar for third with just 3 laps to go. Bubar pulled ahead with the advantage on the final lap as Rusty Poland pulled up to Tardiff’s door, fighting to create a bigger separation between himself and Gary Smith.
Dave Oliver held strong in the closing laps, scoring yet another feature victory in the division. Travis Buzzell, Corey Bubar, Alan Tardiff and Rusty Poland rounded out the top five.
Alan Tardiff may have beat Rusty Poland to the line, but Poland finished one spot ahead of Gary Smith, ultimately cushioning his point lead to 6 points when all was said & done.
With only two weeks remaining in the 2021 season, who will be crowned this year’s track champion? It is going to be one exciting battle, so stay tuned to find out!
The Super Saturday season rolls on this coming Saturday, September 4th. The racing action kicks off at 4:00 pm and will include the season’s final Autograph Night session and a Labor Day Fireworks display.
Continue chasing the checkered and support your local short tracks. I hope to see you soon!
Cover Photo Credit: Kari Oliver (Facebook)