During Jack Hewitt’s legendary racing career, the phrase “Do It Hewitt” followed the Troy native as much as the field during his sprint car races.
On Saturday, fellow Troy resident Lee Underwood took that phrase to heart. Underwood bested the field at the Jack Hewitt Classic at Waynesfield Raceway Park to win his first-ever sprint car feature.
Underwood, who has been racing sprint cars full-time for four seasons, wrestled the lead from USAC’s all-time winningest sprint car driver with 10 laps remaining in the 30-lap feature and wasn’t threatened the rest of the way to win the $3,000 check and a meeting with Hewitt in victory lane.
“(Hewitt) told me I needed to get a picture and date it,” Underwood said. “He said hopefully there’s many more to come and I’m going to want to remember this one. I can’t thank everyone enough. Jack and Waynesfield enough for putting this race on. This was a great night of racing for everybody.”
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Underwood started seventh in the 22-car feature sanctioned by the Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series (BOSS). Indiana’s Dave Darland and California’s Kody Swanson started on the front row. Darland holds the record for most USAC sprint car wins (62) and Swanson is a three-time USAC Silver Crown champion.
The field also included Findlay’s Drew Rader (the points leader who led Underwood by 12 entering Saturday), Fletcher’s Dallas Hewitt (Jack’s nephew and No. 3 in points), Bradford’s Luke Hall (No. 4 in points) and Pleasant Hill’s Matt Westfall (who had won all three of his non-wing sprint appearances at Waynesfield before Saturday).
“Speechless. Getting around Darland was tough,” Underwood said. “He was really good on the bottom and I was, too. I worked through the middle and when I got to his outside I think he made a little bit of a mistake and kind of blew the tires coming out of turn four.
“Honestly, there were a lot of great race cars here but we come into every night thinking we can win. We finally pulled it off.”
Hewitt finished second with Darland, Scotty Weir and Bill Rose rounding out the top five. Kyle Simon, Hall, Thomas Messeraull, Westfall and Matt Goodnight finished in the top 10. Rader was 11th and Swanson 12th.
“Being from Troy, Jack’s a big role model of mine,” said Underwood, who is sponsored by AirEase Heating and Cooling, LINE-X and Erwin Chrysler Dodge Jeep. “We’ve been pitted next to him for years when he was running the two-seater (sprint car). To stand next to him and my family in victory lane, I’m speechless.
“We run out of a small trailer and we’re glad to finally put one behind us. … We’ve been close so many times and I feel like we finally got the monkey off our back. I knew if we kept plugging away we’d finally pick one off.”