Tuesday, August 09, 2011

SPORTS >> Comp Cams finale at Beebe

Leader sportswriter

The Comp Cams Super Dirt Series will make its third and final trip to Beebe Speedway in 2011 this Friday night for a $2,000-to-win, $300-to-start race that should prove pivotal in the championship fight for the series that is also based out of Beebe.

Jon “Catman” Mitchell out of Texarkana, Tex., took over the points lead from Trumann’s Kyle Beard after last weekend’s race at I-30 Speedway in Benton.

Beard had a 39-point jump on Mitchell earlier this year, but a string of bad finishes now pits “The Silent Assassin” five points behind Mitchell. It is far from the first time the two young GRT shoes have found themselves in a battle for a super late model championship. Beard and Mitchell fought for the AMP series titles in 2007 and 2008, with Mitchell prevailing both times.

But Floral driver Brandon Smith is the biggest mover in the mid season. Smith won the CCSDS rookie title last season, and has rolled off four straight finishes in the top four, including his first-career victory at Northeast Arkansas Speedway in Harrisburg on July 16, and another win at 67 Speedway in Sterlington, La., two weeks later.

Smith now sits at 1,767 points, just eight back of Mitchell.

Smith has also shown consistency at Beebe during the tour’s two previous stops at the quarter-mile clay oval. He finished seventh at the first event in April.

Mitchell paid a high price at the end when he took the checkered flag only to find a melee in turn one. Mitchell went high to avoid Murray’s spun car and ended up on the catch fencing, causing heavy damage to his No. 5 GRT machine.

Smith took home a solid fourth-place finish in the July race, while Beard finished mid-pack in 10th place and Mitchell struggled to a 13th-place finish.

And for the locals, it will be another chance to see Vilonia’s Curtis Cook in what has turned out to be a splendid rookie campaign for the driver known as “Hollywood”. Cook cut his teeth at Beebe in the modified division and became a weekly standout before moving into the late-model division in the middle of 2010.

Cook won his first career race at Drew County Speedway in Monticello in May, and was close to another victory at 67 Speedway on July 29. He earned the pole and led the entire way until Morgan Bagley passed him on the final lap.

Cook has a firm grip on the 2011 rookie battle with 96 points, 13 ahead of Sheridan’s Shane Harris and 19 points ahead of Trumann’s Ian Samuel. Cook’s car owner, Keith Lawson of Houston, rounds out the rookie standings with 64 points. Cook is also sixth in the season standings, 198 points out of the leader. Russellville veterans Johnny Virden and Jon Kirby are ahead of Cook in fourth and fifth.

Only four nights remain on the Comp Cams schedule after Beebe. The series will co-sanction a race with the MARSdirtcar series at West Plains, Mo., the following night before taking next weekend off for the annual Topless 100 race at Batesville.

They will return to NEA Speedway on Sept. 9-10 for the first-annual Rockabilly 50, and will end the season at Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis on Oct. 8 with the Mid-South Dirt Track Championship.