BOONE, Iowa (Sept. 13) – Donavon Smith had the best seat in the house to watch as the improbable became the incredible Sunday afternoon at Boone Speedway.
A last-chance qualifier earlier in the day, Smith raced from 25th starting to take the lead with two laps left in the IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals fueled by Casey’s Stock Car main event.
When those two laps were complete, Smith had a career-best $5,000 payday and career third Super Nationals championship to show for his day’s work behind the wheel.
“We had showed up Sunday morning just hoping to make the main event. I had a streak going (a division record 13 consecutive Super Nationals starts) and that was really our only goal. It really weighed heavy on us,” Smith said. “After the last chance race, I was probably as laid back as I ever was.”
After a Super Nationals record 207 cars vied for the 30 starting spots, Jared Siefert led much of the way, chased by Jesse Sobbing while Jeff Mueller and Ricky Thornton Jr. duked it out over third. Kyle Vanover joined in as the top five slowly pulled away from the pack.
“A caution came out and I was up to 20th. Another caution came out and I was up to 15th,” said Smith, already pleased with what at that point promised to be a top 15 finish. “I passed some guys up high early. A lot of guys were pushing. Usually in those races, you knock the radiator out or you go forward.”
Unsure when the damage to his own ride occurred – Smith’s right front fender and door were on the casualty list – he kept up the steady march toward the front, putting himself in position to take advantage of the late-race drama.
Sobbing’s pass for the lead was erased by a caution. The front two made contact on the ensuing restart, with Sobbing getting the worst end of it.
A left rear flat took Siefert out of contention, putting Buck Schafroth at the point before the final yellow.
“I had been running fifth or sixth when I saw the 83 (Siefert) had a flat. I was in third when I told myself I had a shot,” said Smith. “I saw an opening down low with two to go and took the lead.”
“I’ve had the best car at Boone for a lot of the weekly shows this season, but I didn’t at Super Nationals,” he continued. “I somehow won that race there at the end.”
Smith’s first two Super Nationals crowns came in 2009 and 2012.
He’d take the checkers ahead of Vanover and Schafroth, whose third place showing was the best among 13 first-time qualifiers. Loren Pesicka Jr., another first-time qualifier, finished fourth and pole starter Abe Huls was fifth.
Ethan Dotson, the 2019 Super Nationals Modified champion, became the first California driver to qualify for the Stock Car Big Dance.
Former champions Damon Murty and Jeremy Christians started main events for the 15th and 13th times in their respective careers. Randy Brands, a two-time champ, was in for the ninth time, Huls the eighth and Vanover and Mueller both for the seventh.
Feature results – 1. Donavon Smith, Lake City; 2. Kyle Vanover, Beatrice, Neb.; 3. Buck Schafroth, Orient; 4. Loren Pesicka Jr., Burt; 5. Abe Huls, Carthage, Ill.; 6. Justin Nehring, Storm Lake;7. Mathew West, Kellerton; 8. Blake Peeler, Trimble, Mo.; 9. Jeffrey Abbey, Comanche, Texas; 10. Jared Siefert, Luxemburg, Wis.; 11. Ryan Harris, Homer, Neb.; 12. Cayden Carter, Oskaloosa; 13. Derek Green, Granada, Minn.; 14. Tom Cannon, West Branch; 15. Jesse Sobbing, Malvern; 16. Jeff Mueller, Albion; 17. Ricky Thornton Jr., Adel; 18. Mitch Meier, Chilton, Wis.; 19. Damon Murty, Chelsea; 20. Jeffrey Larson, Lakefield, Minn.; 21. Travis Barker, Sioux City; 22. Jason Rogers, Selden, Kan.; 23. Tommy Fain, Abilene, Texas; 24. Jeremy Christians, Horicon, Wis.; 25. Randy Brands, Boyden; 26. Curt Lund, Redwood Falls, Minn.; 27. Michael Jaennette, Kellogg; 28. Ethan Dotson, Bakersfield, Calif.; 29. Kelly Shryock, Fertile; 30. Devin Smith, Lake City.