SMART Modified results ruled unofficial, ruling set for Tuesday
Published 11:34 am Friday, October 20, 2023
Taking advantage of two caution flags in the final five laps, Andy Jankowiak surged past 15-year-old Carson Loftin of Clemmons, North Carolina on the final restart and edged Loftin by .693-second to win the Pace-O-Matic 99 for the SMART Modified Tour powered by Pace-O-Matic, the feature race of Sunday’s Boone Tractor 199 presented by Massey Ferguson racing program.
However, Jankowiak’s victory in his first career visit to South Boston Speedway was declared unofficial Sunday night. During a post-race technical inspection SMART Modified Tour officials found items on the car driven by Jankowiak that needed further inspection. Officials confiscated the parts in question and should announce an official ruling on Tuesday.
Jankowiak, a Tonawanda, New York native and part-time ARCA Menards Series competitor, pointed out the pair of late-race caution flags were key to his apparent win.
“We had a fresher tire, but if we had run the race out at the end, I wouldn’t have gotten him,” Jankowiak noted. “The first time I was on the outside and he beat me on the start. On the second one, I just nailed it and I think he (Loftin) spun the tires a little bit. A lot of credit goes to that kid. Someone told he was like 13-years-old or something, so that was pretty impressive. He’s got a long career ahead of him. I’m glad I snuck one away from him.”
Loftin led 85 laps of the 99-lap race, the most laps he has led in a SMART Modified Tour race in his young career. At one point in the race, he had about a half a lap lead on the field.
“We had a really good racecar all night,” Loftin remarked. “I burned a little bit of the car up on the long run because I know how these races go and I wanted to be as far out front as I could. The two late-race cautions hurt us. I just spun the tires (on the last restart) and made a rookie mistake.”
In the unofficial results, Joey Coulter of Concord, North Carolina finished third, taking the position away from Tom Buzze of Statesville, North Carolina in the closing laps. Tim Brown of Asheville, North Carolina finished fifth.
NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Labonte of Corpus Christi, Texas, series points leader Burt Myers of Walnut Cove, North Carolina, Jason Myers of Walnut Cove, North Carolina, Bobby Measmer of Concord, North Carolina, and Jake Crum of Newport, Tennessee rounded out the top 10 finishers.
There were three lead changes among three drivers with Loftin leading all but 14 laps of the race. Buzze led 10 laps and Jankowiak, who won the pole in qualifying, led the final four circuits.
The race was punctuated by six caution periods, three of them occurring in the final 10 laps of the race.
The SMART Modified Tour powered by Pace-O-Matic uses a one-race playoff system to determine its season champion. The top three drivers in the series point standings after Sunday’s race at South Boston Speedway will be the only drivers eligible to win the series championship when the series hosts its final race of the season on October 28. Series points leader Junior Miller, Brandon Ward of Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Loftin are the three drivers that will battle it out for the series championship. Ward finished 18th in Sunday’s race after an engine failure occurred 11 laps from the end of the race.