VICTORIOUS IN WILD UNOH BATTLE AT THE BEACH
Highlight Inaugural Event
last lap provided all the drama for the second
consecutive night at the UNOH Battle At The Beach.
As a result, NASCAR veteran Steve Park and rising
star Cameron Hayley walked off with the winner’s
trophies Tuesday in the inaugural non-points event
at Daytona International Speedway.
Thanks to a bump from behind from Park, Mike
Stefanik looped his car off of Turn 2 on the final
circuit of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race.
That enabled as Park of East Northport, N.Y., drove
off to his first career Daytona win Tuesday night.
It was the two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race
winner's first Modified victory since 1996.
“It was just short-track racing. He probably had a
car capable of winning, but we had the luckiest car.
I'm just glad we won,” Park said. “It's huge. You
can win races all over this country, but you're not
going to have a Daytona trophy like we have here.”
Park's first career NASCAR win win came in the first
half of a doubleheader of racing on the .4-mile
short-track on Daytona's backstretch. In the
nightcap, 16-year-old Hayley of Calgary, Alberta,
Canada, won the 150-lap NASCAR K&N Pro Series event
after a similar last-lap, bump-and-run move on race
leader Michael Self didn't pay off for Gray Gaulding.
“I went to the outside, and (Gaulding) kind of
pushed me to the wall a little bit and I had to back
out,” Hayley said of the green-white-checkered
restart. “But I just kept on it hard, hard into
(Turns 3 and 4), and we ended up with the win. It
was pretty crazy.”
Gaulding held on for second with Rev Racing driver
Bryan Ortiz third.
The K&N Pro Series race was tame compared to the
fireworks from the Modified event, which featured
the stars of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and
NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Former
Modified Tour champion and event pole sitter Todd
Szegedy led most of the way before suspension woes
sidelined him just a few dozen laps from the finish,
while Danny Bohn, last year’s Whelen Southern
Modified Tour runner-up, had his race end on his
roof following a frontstretch wreck.
But the real drama came in the final lap in the
Modified race, when leaders Stefanik, Park and Eric
Goodale freight-trained their way through Turns 1
and 2 on the tight oval. Park got into the back of
Stefanik to send him spinning, though he felt he'd
gotten too much of a push from Goodale.
“I don't know what happened there on those last
laps. I just know that guys got aggressive,” Park
said. “Mike Stefanik's a good friend of mine, and I
got into the back of him but I was getting it from
the guy behind me who never lifted through the
Stefanik wasn't as diplomatic – or as unclear –
about what took place. Nor was he buying Park's
“Yeah, right,” Stefanik said when apprised of Park's
summation. “I don't want to say anything. I'm just
going to say the wrong thing here.”
Goodale came home second, while Ted Christopher took
third following and ending that was similar to the
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model finish
on Monday night. In that race, Kyle Larson moved
leader C.E. Falk III out of the way off the final
turn en route to victory.
For Hayley, he won the K&N Pro Series race not by
being the aggressor on the final lap but by
capitalizing on the chaos that was around him.
Gaulding charged into the back of Self with two laps
remaining, nearly stopping in the center of the
track to avoid the backlash. Once back under
acceleration, he bolted to the lead with Hayley –
who had been fourth on the restart – in tow.
Gaulding made it to Turn 4 with the lead, but he
bobbled on his own and washed up the track to open
the door for Hayley to win the drag race to the
checkered flag. It was a bit of redemption for Gene
Price Motorsports, Hayley's team, which had seen
Greg Pursley lead 129 laps from the pole before
being booted out of the lead.
With three final-lap passes for the win the
first-year UNOH Battle At The Beach got off to a
rousing start in typical short-track racing fashion.
Hayley will kick off his second full season in the
NASCAR K&N Pro Series West March 2 at Phoenix
International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. As a
rookie, he was part of the Next 9, an industry
initiative designed to spotlight NASCAR’s rising
starts. While classmates Darrell Wallace Jr., Dylan
Kwasniewski, Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson grabbed the
spotlight with their success, Hayley admitted he put
pressure on himself to prove he belonged.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East gets underway on
March 16 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour kicks off
its points season on March 16 at Caraway Speedway in
Asheboro, N.C., while the NASCAR Whelen Modified
Tour gets underway on April 14 at Thompson (Conn.)
Source: Jason Christley / NASCAR