Dominion Raceway concluded its 2016 Late Model race season but not before a season ending, big payout to win event titled, “The Big One 150”.
Also in the balance was the series track championship involving points leader Nick Smith and Doug Barnes Jr who coming in knew he had to win and needed things to go very wrong for Smith. For the others like Michael Hardin, Trent Barnes who was the series recent race winner and other strong veteran talents such as Eddie Johnson along with Doug Liberman. Going out on a high note and competing well was high on the agenda, but who are we kidding here? Every racer and race team was competing to win and Dominion Raceway’s, “The Big One 150”, was the one to win in this years race schedule.
Afternoon qualifying saw the return of sub fifteen second laps around the 4/10’s mile oval thanks in part to some fall season temperatures and making the most of it all was Jeff Oakley. Oakley hit on a lap to earn the race pole with a time at 14.953 sec or 96.302 mph as Nick Smith’s lap was a whole tenth slower but certainly fast to share the front row with Oakley. Doug Barnes Jr was third fastest, Michael Hardin was fourth in the grid and completing qualifying’s five best was Trent Barnes who has been showing muscle as of late in the series. Other notables was David Polenz (6th), Eddie Johnson (7th) and first timer Billy Morris would qualify ninth.
With a stand full of enthused fans, an electric vibe all along pit road, green flag racing was on the track as Michael Hardin showed a full field of Late Models into turn one. By virtue of a four car invert, Hardin was well up to the task and quickly established his race pace as the leader. On back battling for spots on the track was Smith, Oakley,Trent Barnes but in the midst of it all was Doug Barnes Jr whose hot rod refused to get going. Quickly losing spots, Doug Barnes Jr was eventually forced to come to pit road, ending hopes of the race win and any chance for a track championship. But back up front, it was Hardin showing the way followed by Smith and Oakley giving chase. Once the field sorted itself out, it was a race for the first break at lap fifty of the event and as lap twenty went on the board, safe to say everyone was just riding. Wrong.
Both Smith, along with Oakley would make several moves for a spot but never committed to the pass in the first segment of the event providing excitement in the early goings.. Eddie Johnson was showing well as was Trent Barnes in the four and five spots content with they’re positions. Then the caution flag waved on lap forty three for Cameron Burke when his motor expired. Mike Ganoe was also involved in the caution getting into the oil and slamming the inside wall ending his night as well. The caution and the laps it took to complete the clean up brought us to lap fifty and our first break to the race. A fan vote decided the next invert to the race and the fans to know surprise a six car invert was chosen.
Being said, Connor Hall inherited the race lead and back to green flag racing we were. Hall nailed the restart leaving Trent Barnes, Johnson, Smith and Oakley wheelin for positions. Once settled, the next break wasn’t schedueled till lap twenty five and the question being asked was who was going to go and who was just going to ride? Several laps into this green flag run and Hall was enjoying his time out in front. But lap seventy seven of the race saw Nick Smith having enough of this riding bit and began his march to the front. But in his way of the leader was Trent Barnes, Smith then took Barnes three wide into turn one to complete the pass for the second spot on the grid. Just ahead by three car lengths was Hall the leader and by lap eighty one, the charge was complete and the race lead had changed hands with Nick Smith on point.
The leader soon had an easy twelve car length lead over Jeff Oakley who was working hard to narrow down the race lead when the race met the century mark of the event. Suddenly, the large race lead by Smith was collapsing as Jeff Oakley was making his charge. Lap one twenty and Smith’s lead had vanished. Oakley peeked underneath then seemingly, Smith would drive away as the games were obviously being played as Smith brought the field to the lap one twenty five break. Facing the next invert, leader Nick Smith this time was the one pulling the pill and pulled the three pill to invert the final twenty five laps. Trent Barnes was the big sweepstakes winner of the invert and would show Oakley, Smith, Hall and Hardin the green.
Green flag racing once again for the final twenty five laps of the race and Trent Barnes beats Jeff Oakley out of turn two to secure the race lead. Oakley then quickly regroups and gets in line of the leader as Smith watches it all happen in third. Suddenly its Oakley making his move and works on the bumper of Barnes and when lap one twenty eight went on the board, the race lead hand changed hands. Oakley was now the race leader and doing away with Trent Barnes was Nick Smith for second but the battle allowed Oakley to amount a ten car length lead. With laps whining down, Smith was closing but would run out of time and laps as Jeff Oakley went on to win Dominion Raceway’s “The Big One 150”, race event. Nick Smith was second, Trent Barnes finished third, Michael Hardin finished fourth and Connor Hall was a strong fifth to close out the 2016 Late Model points series at Dominion Raceway.
Winning 12 races, 19 top fives, 19 top tens in 21 starts at Dominion Raceway, Nick Smith was crowned the 2016 Late Model series points champion. Doug Barnes Jr who was every bit of the challenge with his 2 race wins, 17 top fives and 19 top tens would finish his season in second. Notable season success to Michael Hardin finishing third in points as was Trent Barnes fourth and Doug Liberman fifth in the season long points battle at Dominion Raceway.
1 #11 Jeff Oakley
2 #12 Nick Smith
3 #1 Trent Barnes
4 #7 Michael Hardin
5 #77 Connor Hall
6 #5 Billy Morris
7 #57 Eddie Johnson
8 #13 Tyler Daniels
9 #07 Richard Storm
10 #56 Doug Liberman
11 #27 Kevin Smith
12 #66 Zach Wells
13 #61 David Polenz
14 #82b Cameron Burke
15 #82 Mike Ganoe
16 #88 Doug Barnes Jr
17 #01 David Moon
18 #17 Joe Brown