BARRE -- Essex Junction driver Matthew Smith posted another top-10 finish last week at Thunder Road Speedbowl and might have had a shot at the win if it weren’t for a couple of crashes.
In the 50-lap Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models feature, the rookie grabbed the lead early on and looked to have a chance at the upset. However, a pair of cars spun out on the 30th lap to bring out the caution flag and tighten things up.
Smith was able to hold off Barre’s Jim Morris on the restart to sustain the upper hand, but Morris got the better of the Essex Junction driver once racing resumed following a second crash eight laps later. Shortly after, a substantial pileup made way for a slew of place changes and brought out a red flag.
Smith found himself with a lot of ground to make up and not a lot of laps to do it, causing him to drop down and finish in seventh place.
Still, it was the rookie’s fourth top-10 finish of the season and has him sitting at 10th place in the point standings. Smith is one of two first-year drivers on the circuit -- his 85 rookie points easily leading Derek Gluchaki who only has 10 at the midpoint of the schedule.