Tuesday, August 25, 2009

SPORTS >> Elder Moyer bests son at O’Reilly topless

Leader sportswriter

Two generations of ‘Smooth’ highlighted the O’Reilly Mid South Racing Association’s final trip to Beebe Speedway in 2009.

Batesville drivers swept the top-three finishing spots in the 30-lap topless late- model feature, with Billy ‘Mr. Smooth’ Moyer and son Billy Moyer, Jr., also known as ‘Kid Smooth,’ battling for the race lead for the first 18 circuits. But April winner Wendell Wallace finally played spoiler to the father-son battle.

Moyer, Sr. held on despite a near-flat right rear tire to collect the $2,000 top prize, while Wallace settled for second. The younger Moyer extended his points lead with a solid third-place effort.

Moyer, Sr. started on the outside of the front row alongside fast qualifier and July winner Jon Kirby of Russellville. It didn’t take long for the former national super late-model champion to take the lead, as Moyer out-powered Kirby into the first turn.

Moyer, Jr., who started third, got around Kirby for second on lap five and set his sights on dad.

By lap eight, Moyer, Jr. was all over the back bumper of his dad’s familiar J and J Steel 21 car. He had a couple of looks off the exit of turn two, but his better-handling race car couldn’t make up for the years of experience he was surrendering.

“It doesn’t get any more fun than that,” said Moyer, Jr. “I think we had a better car than he did; he’s just a better driver, of course. That was a lot of fun running with him. I got up to his left-rear tire a couple of times, but I could never get right there beside him.”

For Moyer, Sr., it was the second MSRA win of the season in only three appearances.

“It makes it neat to be able to race with him,” said Moyer, Sr. “He’s learned a lot. He’s come on strong this last year, so I’m sure he’s going to be putting it on the old man here real soon.”

A total of 29 cars representing six states turned out for the MSRA’s third and final race at the sandy-clay quarter miler. Kirby took top-qualifier honors with his run from the back to the front to win the second heat, while Wallace, Moyer, Jr. and Louisiana standout Ray Moore won the other heats.

Missouri driver Randy Mitchell and Broken Bow, Oklahoma’s Gary Christian earned the two MSRA provisional spots.

The previous two MSRA events at Beebe went caution free, but a three-car pileup on lap four between Dewaine Hottinger, Clay Fisher and Brian Ritchie brought out the only caution of the race Friday. The scariest moment of the night came when Trumann driver Ian Samuel’s 86 B machine suffered a blown engine down the backstretch. Flames shot out from under the hood as Samuel came to a standstill, but track workers were able to contain the problem and get Samuel safely out of the car.

The crowd got on its feet when Moyer, Jr.’s 21 JR machine tried to pull even with the 21 car of Moyer, Sr. on lap eight. Junior tried the same move one lap later, and got up to his father’s door panel before Moyer, Sr. pulled back ahead.

The back-and-forth battle for the lead allowed fifth-place starter Wallace to catch up to the Moyers by lap 15. Moyer, Jr. moved up high in an attempt to keep Wallace behind him, but the Batesville veteran made his way around on the inside for second.

Wallace made a strong charge for Moyer, Sr. in the final 10 laps, but lap traffic held him off.

“I guess he was right on me there,” said Moyer. “We had a flat right rear tire going on there, so we’re lucky we made it to the end. Up to that point, the car was okay. I saw him up there beside me that one time, so we tried to hold our line and not overshoot the corner.”

Trumann’s Kyle Beard came into Friday’s race trailing Moyer, Jr. by 80 points in the MSRA season standings, but an ill-handling car dropped him to a ninth-place finish, the first car a lap down. Moyer, Jr. made the most of Beard’s misfortune with his 11th top five of the season through 16 events.

“That’s exactly what I needed,” said Moyer, Jr. “We ran third, so hopefully we got a little bit bigger points lead now. We’ve got to have all the cushion we can so if we blow up or wreck one night, or the driver makes an error, we have a little lead way now.”

Moyer, Jr., now in his fourth season in a super late, has enjoyed a breakout season in 2009 with two MSRA wins and a season-long grip on the points lead.

“Finally! We have the best car possible and the best engines now,” he said. “We’re expected to run up front. We shouldn’t be back there running eighth or ninth in the consi (B-main). We’ve got a couple of wins here this year and it’s definitely going to be a breakout year, we just need to get in the win category some more. We’ve got a boatload of top fives, but we need some more wins.”

Kirby held on to finish fourth, while Walnut Ridge veteran Jeff Floyd came from the seventh starting spot to round out the top five.

It was Moyer, Sr.’s first trip back to Beebe in two decades, and the first topless late model race in the track’s history.

“I don’t know that it makes any different characteristics of the car, but you can see better,” said Moyer. “I kind of like it without it on there, really. You can see a little better, and the wind comes through better.”

Texas driver Jon Mitchell was sixth, followed by Eric Turner in seventh and two-time defending MSRA champ Joey Mack in eighth. Beard was ninth with Moore completing the top ten.