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Hoots Heads to Laurens as Thunder Bomber Points Leader

4/16/2021
Hoots Heads to Laurens as Thunder Bomber Points Leader

ADAIRSVILLE, Ga. — Mattison Hoots will head to Laurens County Speedway on April 17, 2021, for the fourth event of the season on the Crate Racin’ USA Thunder Bomber Shootout Series, and the Tryon, N.C., driver will be sitting in some unfamiliar territory when he arrives at the 3/8-mile oval for a $1,000-to-win event.

Hoots is leading the series standings by a one-point margin over Jonathan Hinson, sitting atop the battle for the touring series championship for the first time this season. He’ll also be arriving at a track he admits he’s never laid eyes on previously, and will be facing that challenge as well during the weekend.

“I’ve never even seen the place, so it’d be real special to go down there and win the race under those circumstances,” Hoots said. “I’ve asked around and we have an idea of what gear to run when we get there from talking to a few people, and I’ve watched a couple videos from the track, but basically we don’t know too much about the place. We’re really looking forward to when we arrive, but we also know we’ll have to get a feel for it pretty quickly.”

Hoots is currently the top dog in one of the Carolinas’ most competitive touring divisions, embroiled in an early-season war for points toward a championship that will pay at least $1,000 to the overall titlist. He leads chief rival Jonathan Hinson by a slender single-point margin [136-135], while Luke Doggett [118], Preston Dimsdale [109] and Dylan Montgomery [108] round out the top five in the standings.

2021 Thunder Bomber Shootout Series (current points)
1. Mattison Hoots, 136
2. Jonathan Hinson, 135
3. Luke Doggett, 118
4. Preston Dimsdale, 109
5. Dylan Montgomery, 108
6. Blake Bentley, 99
7. Hank Taylor, 97
8. Grant Parr, 82
9. Juston Truitt, 78
10. Hayden Atkins, 73.

Hoots is in his third season, but last year was his first full year of competition in the Thunder Bomber division. He acquired a new car, “and we got a lot more serious about our racing.” That effort has paid off, and Hoots has become a top threat in the division, winning six races last season in weekly competition, spread around between Travelers Rest (S.C.) Speedway, Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C., and Harris (N.C.) Speedway, all of which are sanctioned by Crate Racin’ USA.

“This year we decided to concentrate on the Thunder Bomber Shootout Series and just focus on traveling to those events so we didn’t have to run every weekend and could spend more time together as a family, but it hasn’t worked that way as much as we’d planned,” Hoots said. “We’ve been racing weekly shows in addition to the touring deal, and getting a lot of second and third-place finishes here lately. It’s been getting old, and we’re ready for a win.”

Included in those appearances was a weekly show at Cherokee, where Hoots finished third in what he termed, “a pretty strong field of cars.” His current listing as the points leader by one marker over Hinson might be a stronger advantage were it not for troubles in the third race of the series at Travelers Rest, where involvement in two incidents dropped him back in the field after he raced with the frontrunners during the earlier stages.

“We had a suspension problem going on with our car that night, and it was a handful behind the wheel,” Hoots said. “After the spins, we switched our strategy to just surviving, and had a main objective to stay ahead of that No. 48 [Hinson], which we did and finished one position ahead of him. We struggled and placed 12th, and he finished 13th.”

That objective to keep Hinson’s No. 48 behind his own No. 41 probably won’t change much at Laurens County with the two drivers at the top of the points parade, but Hoots also knows there’s more challengers to worry about than just the Lancaster, S.C., driver. It's also possible that Hinson, who has won three Weekly Racing Series races in a row at half-mile Lancaster (S.C.) Motor Speedway, could possibly be tempted to stay closer to home, where he has an opportunity to start from the rear of the field with financial bonuses that have been posted at his home facility.

“Right now we're just gonna race and try to not let the points get into our heads too much," Hoots said. "Sure we'd like to win the championship, but it's still early. Sometimes this division gets overlooked a little bit, but it’s a pretty competitive field of cars that you’ll see at most of these tracks. The racing is usually really good. We might not be the fastest cars on the racetrack, but we’re probably the most competitive class in the region.”

Article Credit: Brian McLeod
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