Fifty five years ago in 1959, fifty nine starters took the green
for the inaugural Daytona 500. As 41,921 spectators looked on, Lee Petty and
Johnny Beauchamp crossed the finish line in what appeared to be Beauchamp by
a whisker. There was no photo finish camera but Petty was declared the
winner, 61 hours later. Beauchamp was put back to second spot with Charlie
Griffith, third. The event, which went non stop without a caution, had an
average speed of 135.521 mph. For his efforts, Petty received $19,050.
Fifty years ago in 1964, Richard
Petty led all but sixteen of the 200 lap Daytona 500 and finished three
miles ahead of Jim Pardue. Paul Goldsmith finished third and was followed by
Marvin Paunch and Jim Pascal. Among those in the field were Ralph Earnhardt
who finished 19th, 20 laps down and New England modified and cut down driver
Nathan "Smokey" Boutwell who finished 20th.There were three cautions for 19
laps. Petty, who averaged 154.334mph collected $33,300 for his efforts as
69,738 spectators looked on. One hundred-mile qualifying race winners were
Junior Johnson and Bobby Isaac.
Forty five years ago in 1969, the
late model sportsman (Busch Grandnationals) replaced the somewhat modified
cars that ran on Saturday. LeeRoy Yarbrough won the event, which saw New
England Sportsman and Modified great Don MacTavish lose his life in a
violent front stretch crash. Yarbrough came back on Sunday to win the 500 by
a car length over Charlie Glotzbach. Donnie Allison finished third and was
followed by A.J.Foyt. Yarbroughs average speed was 157.950mph with 101,800
looking on. For his efforts he received $38,950.
Forty five years ago in 1974, the
Modifieds were included at Daytona and raced on the road course. Bobby
Allison and Tiny Lund finished one-two as they clearly outclassed the field.
John Bryant finished third and was followed by Denis Giroux, Geoff Bodine,
Jerry Dostie and road racer, Charlie Blanton. The Daytona 500 was shortened
to 450 laps because of the then, energy crunch. Even and odd days for
getting gas were the norm. Bobby Isaac and Donnie Allison won the twin 125's
which were also shortened to 112.5 miles in length. Richard Petty won his
fifth Daytona 500 after Donnie Allison cut down two tires with eleven laps
to go. Cale Yarborough ended up second with Ramo Stott, third. A record
$300,000 was paid by ABC for broadcast rights and only the second half of
the 500 was shown live.
Thirty five years ago in 1979, Richie
Evans dominated the modified World Series at New Smyrna as he won seven of
the nine events run. Merv Treichler and Ronnie Bouchard were the only other
drivers to break the stranglehold that Evans had on the competition. Evans
also won a 200 mile modified event at Daytona. Neil Bonnett finished second
and was followed by Harry Gant, Ronnie Bouchard, Joe Thurman and Bob Riley.
For the first time, the Daytona 500 was shown live, pole to pole, by CBS.
Ken Squire called the action. Richard Petty became a surprise six-time
winner after Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison wrecked going for the lead
in the closing laps. As Petty took the checkered flag, Yarborough, Allison
and Bobby Allison were slugging it out on the infield grass in turn three.
When the TV crew realized what was going on they picked up the physical
combat as it unfolded. Darrell Waltrip ended up finishing second with
Thirty years ago in 1984, Richie
Evans won seven of eight modified events run at New Smyrna. Evans lost a
fuel pump on the night he didn't win. Charlie Jarzombek took the win that
night. At Daytona, Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison won the
125's.Yarborough went on to win the 500 over Dale Earnhardt and Darrell
Waltrip. Waltrip won the Goody's 300 the day before.
Twenty five years ago in 1989, Reggie
Ruggiero won six of the nine events at New Smyrna. Mike Ewanitsko won two
and Tom Baldwin won the series closing Richie Evans Memorial. Darrell
Waltrip was at the top of his game as he won both the Goody's 300 and the
Twenty years ago in 1994, Richie
Gallup ended up winning four of the eight modified events run at New Smyrna.
Tom Baldwin, although winless used consistency to win the series
championship. Other winners were Ricky Fuller, Bruce D'Assandro and Ted
Christopher who won the series ending Richie Evans memorial. At Daytona, Bob
Newton pulled his Hoosier Tires out of the event in the interest of safety,
as the tires were not wearing properly. Ernie Irvan and Dale Earnhardt won
the 125's.For the fifth straight year; Dale Earnhardt won the Busch GN
Goody's 300 with Dale Jarrett, second. Chad Little the first GN regular
finished third. Among the casualties were Mike Stefanik, Doug Hevron and
Mike McLaughlin who were collected in a lap five wreck. The 500 saw Sterling
Marlin score his first Winston Cup win. Ernie Irvan finished second with
Terry Labonte, third.
Fifteen years ago, in 1989, at
New Smyrna on Monday night, Ted Christopher made it two in a row George Kent
in the Gary Cretty No. 26. Kent switched from Hoosier to Goodyear but still
couldn’t catch the Connecticut speedster. JR Bertuccio finished third with
Eric Beers, fourth. At Daytona, Ken Schrader was the Busch Grandnational
Series top qualifier as he took the pole for the NAPA 300 with a speed of
189.865mph.Randy Lajoie was the outside pole sitter. Tuesday night at New
Smyrna belonged to Doug French as he jumped out in front and beat Ted
Christopher to the line. Jamie Tomaino finished third. Christopher returned
to winning form on Wednesday at New Smyrna as he won his third event of the
series over Kent, Beers and Tomaino. At Daytona the big news was that Mike
Helton was named as SR. Vice President and CEO of NASCAR and his duties were
to oversee the day to day operations of NASCAR. Bill France would still
maintain ultimate control as he remained as President of the sanctioning
body. At Daytona on Thursday at the 125's, Bobby Labonte passed Jeff Gordon
with 12 laps to go to win the first event. Dale Earnhardt won the second 125
over Jeremy Mayfield. During the first lap, Wally Dallenbach took out John
Andretti and Jeff Green. Christopher and Tomaino opened up a lead of a half
lap at New Smyrna on Thursday night. Christopher maintained the point and
recorded his fourth victory. George Kent finished third with Doug French,
fourth. On Friday at Daytona, Speedway Motorsports announced that they had
sold the Charlotte Motor Speedway name to home improvement giant Lowes for
$35million. Lowes had previously been a NASCAR sponsor but was dumped in
favor of Home Depot. Dale Earnhardt Sr. won the IROC event held at the 2-1/2
Ten years ago in 2004, the action
continued at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida on Tuesday night, February
10. The Modifieds had Monday night off. On Tuesday night, Eric Beers took
advantage of Ted Christopher and Donnie Lia’s misfortune as he took the win
in Round 4 of the World Series. Christopher started on the pole and was
looking to be the first repeat winner when Lia made a move under him, which
resulted in both ending up in the wall. Lia accepted responsibility for the
incident. There had been virtually no passing on the high-banked oval this
year as the track had become worn and the temperatures had not been ideal
for racing. Buck Catalano, who normally races at the Spencer Speedway in
upstate New York, ended up second with Charlie Pasteryak, third. JR
Bertuccio and Mike Fitch rounded out the top five. Lia was able to make
repairs after the crash and ended up seventh behind John Blewett III who was
sixth. Chuck Hossfeld, who was driving for Bob Garbarino on the Modified
tour made his first appearance driving his own car and finished 11th. It was
also good to see Bo Gunning break into the top ten as he finished 8th. The
Modifieds went the 50-lap distance on Wednesday night. Eddie Flemke Jr. and
the Hill Enterprises team joined the field and made the most of their effort
as they took the win. Flemke, who started third, took the lead on the first
lap when John Blewett III drifted up, leaving an opening. It was clear
sailing from then on. Blewett, who was then slugging it out with Ted
Christopher, lost a radiator hose and triggered a wreck, which ultimately
put him out for the night. Christopher applied the pressure to Flemke to the
point where his rear bumper looked like it had been through a war but the
second generation driver never faltered as he romped home for the win.
Christopher settled for second with George Kent, third. Charlie Pasteryak
and Chuck Hossfeld rounded out the top five. Flemke stated they never
intended to run the whole series, just the last three or four events. On
Thursday night Ted Christopher became the first repeat winner in modified
competition at New Smyrna. Christopher started on the pole and led the
entire 25-lap distance. Buck Catalano finished second with Eric Beers,
third. JR Bertuccio and Mike Fitch rounded out the top five. Things got ugly
during the early going when Ed Flemke Jr. came together with George Kent.
Kent spun out and went after Flemke, eventually planting him into the wall.
Flemke ended up in 19th spot while Kent ended up 9th behind Don Lia, Chuck
Hossfeld and Bo Gunning. On Friday night it was the Richie Evans Memorial
100. John Blewett III, who had horrible luck in the series, started dead
last in the 27-car field and survived numerous restarts and a crash to walk
away the winner. A lap nine crash collected eleven cars, including Blewett.
Blewett was able to rejoin the field but others weren’t as fortunate.
The accident was triggered when Charlie Pasteryak and Bo Gunning made
contact with Pasteryak getting the worst of the deal as he hit the outside
wall. Once the field restarted those not involved in the wreck made pit
stops with many putting on fresh rubber. Another late race caution found the
same scenario. On the restart, Ed Flemke was attempting to rundown leader
Blewett and George Kent. Flemke appeared to be the fastest car but as the
laps wore down he appeared to be getting loose. Ted Christopher then put the
bumper to him and sent the Hill’s Enterprises No.79 into the inside wall.
Flemke was able to re-fire his engine and took off after Christopher while
he circled the track under caution. Flemke figured that the track officials
should have taken action against Christopher for his overly aggressive
driving and seeing as though they didn’t, Flemke plowed Christopher in the
rear and then exited the track to the pit area. Once in the pits,
Christopher’s crew joined Flemke’s crew for some tea and crumpets! Needless
to say, it wasn’t pretty. George Kent ended up finishing second to Blewett.
Rounding out the top five were Eric Beers, JR Bertuccio and Chuck Hossfeld.
Christopher managed to finish tenth. The heavy rains that washed out the
racing at Daytona on Saturday also washed out the final night of the World
Series at New Smyrna. There will be no make up. Eric Beers was named the
modified champion of the series as he beat Ted Christopher by 31 points.
Donnie Lia ended up third with JR Bertuccio, fourth and George Kent, fifth.
Rounding out the top ten were Charlie Pasteryak, Buck Catalano, Kevin
Goodale, John Bush and Chris Young.
At the Daytona International Speedway on Thursday the twin 125 qualifying
races for the Daytona 500 were run with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Elliott
Sadler scoring the wins. Of the 45 cars that entered the events, 43 of them
qualified for the 500. Going home were Kirk Shelmerdine, a former crew chief
for Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Andy Hillenburg. In comparison to other years, a
45-car field for the 500 is a light one. The NASCAR Craftsman Trucks ran
under the lights at the Daytona International Speedway last Friday night.
Carl Edwards won it in a Ford. Toyota, in its first showing, almost stole
the show as Travis Kvapil finished second in the once domestic brand series.
Heavy rains descended on the Daytona area on Saturday afternoon bringing the
Busch Series Hershey’s Kisses 300 to a halt. The event was completed on
Monday, February 16 at 11:00 am. An estimated 200,000 were on hand when
President George Bush gave the command to start the engines. The only scary
wreck occurred when Michael Waltrip took a mean tumble on the backstretch.
It seemed like ages until Waltrip emerged unhurt. In a TV interview Waltrip
was extremely critical of the track crew, which left him hanging upside down
for quite a while. Waltrip finally convinced the rescue workers to roll his
car back in the upright position and loa and behold he got out without a
problem. Unlike last year when the 500 was stopped because of rain, the
event ran the entire posted distance.
It looked like there would be a break in the Anti-trust suit that had
been filed against NASCAR over the awarding of NEXTEL (formerly Winston) Cup
dates. It had been strongly rumored that the International Speedway
Corporation, which is controlled by the France family that also controls
NASCAR, may sell their track in Rockingham, North Carolina to Speedway
Motorsports, which owns the Texas track that has been seeking a second date.
If Speedway Motorsports ended up owning Rockingham they could move their
date to Texas. A similar situation took place when O. Bruton Smith, CEO of
Speedway Motorsports and Bob Bahre, owner of the New Hampshire International
Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire bought the North Wilkesboro Speedway, also
in North Carolina, and moved their dates. One went to Loudon and one went to
Texas. If the deal for Rockingham ever goes through it’s a good bet that the
Anti-trust suit will go away. A few months later it happened!
Five years ago in 2009 after
having Sunday off to repair and refresh some of the tour type and SK type
Modifieds that were damaged in the first two nights of the World Series at
the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida a near full field was on hand. Among
those on hand for race #3 was Sprint Cup star Ryan Newman. Ted Christopher
beat out Newman at Loudon in 2008. Newman redeemed himself at New Smyrna on
Monday night. The closing laps saw numerous lead changes between the two and
in the end at the checkered flag it was Newman in for the win by inches.
Christopher finished second and was followed by Eric Goodale, John Jensen
and Jon McKennedy. Jimmy Blewett made it three in a row in SK type Modified
Eric Goodale and Ted Christopher led the 23 car field down for the start
of the night’s 25 lap feature. Before one lap was completed Christopher had
taken the lead. Matt Hirschman slowed immediately in what was suspected to
be transmission problems. A big wreck on the seventh lap collected Ryan
Preece, Chuck Hossfeld, Bobby Grigas, III, Jon McKennedy, Jimmy Blewett,
Louie Mechalides, Richard Savory and Eric Goodale. Christopher continued to
survive several restarts while Goodale slipped a bit, which opened a door
for Newman. Newman dogged the defending NASCAR champion until the closing
laps when he blew him away with an outside pass on a restart.
When Jimmy Blewett took the checkered flag in the SK type Modified 15
lapper it was almost 12:30am on Tuesday morning. Frank Ruocco, Jimmy
Zacharias and David Cranmer rounded out the top five. Those five were the
only drivers who finished the race.
Ted Christopher ended his World Series dry spell on Tuesday night as he won
the Tour type Modified 25 lap feature. Jimmy Blewett remained unbeatable in
the SK type Modifieds as he went pole to pole to record his fourth feature
win in the division.
Monday night’s winner Ryan Newman started on the pole of the Modified
feature with Jimmy Blewett on the outside. Blewett jumped into the lead at
the start. Newman faded a bit as Christopher, who started third, moved into
the runner-up spot. By the eighth lap Christopher had moved into the lead.
Newman continued to fade as Chuck Hossfeld moved into the third position. In
what looked to becoming a non-stop event changed quickly as Eric Goodale,
Matt Hirschman and Ryan Preece wrecked together in turn four on the 16th
lap. Once the cars and debris was cleared the feature went non-stop from
there. Blewett had nothing for Christopher and was forced to settle for
second. Hossfeld ended up third with Ronnie Silk, fourth. It was the first
night of competition for Silk and the Roger Hill Race Team. Jon McKennedy
rounded out the top five. Ryan Newman rebounded from a pit stop on lap 16 to
Following Blewett in the SK type Modified feature were Bobby Grigas, III,
Frank Ruocco, David Cranmer and Ron Schultz. The event was cut two laps
short when Jimmy Zacharias, Eric Goodale and Wayne Arute were all involved
in grinding crash on the front stretch. Arute got the worst of it, hitting
the wall head-on. He exited the car uninjured, but his car suffered heavy
The tour type Modifieds at New Smyrna ran the 50 lap John Blewett III
Memorial 50 lapper on Wednesday night. Ronnie Silk, in his second night of
competition, took the win over Ted Christopher, Matt Hirschman, Jimmy
Blewett and Eric Goodale. Jimmy Blewett made it five in a row in SK type
Early in the evening Louie Mechalides replaced Frank Ruocco in the Bear
Motorsports No. 14. Ruocco picked up a ride in the Joe Brady back-up car.
Chuck Hossfeld drew the pole starting spot and took the lead at the start.
By the second lap Silk had closed on the leader and was applying the heat.
Hossfeld got a slight reprieve when Mechalides spun in turn two, bringing
out the caution. Shortly after the field restarted Hirschman brought out the
caution when he spun on the front stretch, hitting the water barrels that
guard pit road. Hirschman was able to drive away and rejoin the field.
Hossfeld led until lap 11 when he gave way to a determined Silk. The caution
flew again on lap 23 for Shelly Perry who spun on the back stretch and for
Steve Witt who hit the wall at the start-finish line. On the restart,
Hossfeld, who had been running second, faded. Eric Goodale moved into the
runner-up spot. At just about the same time Richard Savory’s engine dumped
its innards in a billow of smoke. Following a realignment of the field Silk
jumped out to a sizeable lead with Goodale, Ryan Preece, Bob Grigas and
Hossfeld in tow.
On lap 46, Ryan Preece had a run on Eric Goodale for second place on the
backstretch. Preece pulled out and Goodale threw a block on him. The pair
made contact and Goodale went spinning down low. Preece made it to the end
of the straightway when his right rear tire went down. He then slid up into
Chuck Hossfeld, who impacted the outside wall in turn three. Preece drove
away and pitted for a new tire. Goodale also drove away and pitted. Hossfeld
was hauled off by a wrecker. On the restart Silk led Grigas, Christopher,
Ruocco and Hirschman. Grigas got a little over excited as he went high on
the track and gave way to Christopher. In the end, Christopher had nothing
for Silk. Christopher settled for second with Hirschman, third. Jimmy
Blewett and Eric Goodale rounded out the top five. Grigas ended up in sixth
spot and Preece in eighth.
Finishing behind Blewett in the Wednesday night SK type event was Frank
Ruocco, Brad Van Houten, Tommy Farrell and Jimmy Zacharias.
In tour type Modified action on Thursday night Ted Christopher scored his
second victory of the series. Jimmy Blewett continued to dominate in the SK
types as he made it six in a row. Despite the fact that usually by Thursday
there had been thousands of race fans in the Daytona-New Smyrna area the
crowds were down to say the least. At New Smyrna the grandstands were less
than half full and at Daytona where usually the Sprint Cup Duals are near a
sell out there were considerable empty seats observed.
In the Modified 25 lapper, Christopher started from the pole and jumped
out to an early lead at the start over Chuck Hossfeld, Matt Hirschman, Jimmy
Blewett and Bobby Grigas, III. The first caution of the race fell on lap 3
when Frank Ruocco, driving the Joe Brady back-up, hit the second turn wall
near the beginning of the backstretch. Christopher led the restart and was
followed by Hossfeld, Ronnie Silk, Blewett, Grigas and Hirschman who had
faded since the start. Silk, who was looking to make it two in a row, took
over the runner-up spot on lap 10 after getting by Hossfeld on the low side.
The caution flew again on lap 14, this time for John Jensen who had come to
a stop on the front stretch. Once the field went back to green Silk turned
up the heat on the backside of the leader. On lap 17 Silk took the lead in a
somewhat rough way. Christopher returned the favor on lap 22 as he re-took
the lead. Grigas followed as Silk slipped to third. Christopher held on for
the win and was followed by Grigas, Silk, Hirschman, Hossfeld, Blewett, Eric
Goodale, Rob Fuller, Jon McKennedy and Kevin Goodale.
In SK type competition Blewett took the lead from Frank Ruocco on lap 3 and
that’s the name of that tune!
The Richie Evans Memorial 100 was the main attraction at New Smyrna on
Friday night. Each year the New Smyrna Speedway honors the fallen Champion
and icon to the sport of open wheeled Modified Racing. The RE 100 was the
most exciting event of the week and kept the near capacity crowd on its feet
for most of the event. Ted Christopher was the eventual winner after trading
the lead close to ten times with Ronnie Silk. Temperatures were in the high
50’s-low 60’s at race time.
Jimmy Blewett took the lead on the start with Silk on his rear bumper.
Silk passed Blewett for the lead on lap 3. The first caution of the evening
flew on lap 11 for Shelly Perry who spun in turn 4. The restart was aborted
when Vinnie Annarummo spun by himself. Annarummo was driving the Joe Brady
A strange thing happened on lap 11. Danny Marcello arrived at the track
and was allowed to join the event. That was a dumb move by who ever made
that decision as he could have wrecked half the field with an untested car.
Marcello was black flagged for not getting up to speed. A big logjam took
place on the restart. Several cars got together on the front stretch as the
green flag came out. Those involved include Kevin Goodale, Chuck Hossfeld,
JR Bertuccio, Rob Fuller, Ted Christopher, Jimmy Blewett, Jon McKennedy and
Ryan Preece. The field returned to green flag conditions. All continued
except Blewett as his car was sidelined with rear end problems. The caution
flew again on lap 28. Butch Perry spun. Among those who pitted were
Christopher, Chuck Hossfeld and Ryan Preece. Silk continued to lead as the
field went back to green. At the halfway point, it was Silk, Bobby Grigas,
Eric Goodale, Hirschman, Andy Seuss, John Jensen, Kevin Goodale, JR
Bertuccio, Ted Christopher and Peter Jarvis. Butch Perry spun again on lap
53. Silk and most of the front runners pitted. Eric Goodale inherited the
lead on the restart. With 13 cars left running Jensen pulled Goodale on the
restart. Christopher stormed his way to the front and on lap 60 took the
lead. Grigas and Silk came with him into second and third as Jensen dropped
to fourth. At lap 67 the racing was at a fever pitch. Silk made bonsai move
on the low side of Christopher to take the lead. Not one to take it sitting
down, Christopher rose to the occasion on lap 69 to retake the top spot. At
lap 77, Silk passed Christopher again for the lead. Christopher tried a
crossover move to retake the lead, but it didn't work. The caution flew
again on lap 79 for the Perry’s who wrecked each other. Silk and Christopher
served up a see-saw battle for the lead. Christopher took the lead for the
final time on lap 96. Following Christopher at the finish was Silk, Grigas,
Hirschman, Kevin Goodale and Chuck Hossfeld.
Jimmy Blewett made it seven in a row in the SK type Modifieds. Kevin
Goodale was second, Tom Ferrell, Jimmy Zacharias, and Rob Schultz rounded
out the top five.
Saturday night was pretty much a lame duck session for the Modifieds and
the SK types. Ted Christopher had already sewed up the tour type Modified
Championship and Jimmy Blewett, the SK types.
With only 17 tour type Modifieds left for the final night Ted Christopher
made it three in a row and four for the week in World Series competition at
the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida. Christopher’s main competition Ronnie
Silk was on his way home to Connecticut as the Roger Hill Race Team headed
for North Carolina. Jimmy Blewett completed a perfect week of SK type
Modified racing as he went eight for eight.
Matt Hirschman and Bobby Grigas brought the field down for the start.
Christopher started fifth. Once on the backstretch the front runners went
three wide. Grigas, who had a tire getting soft and JR Bertuccio made
contact. Both hit the wall a ton and in the process collected Jimmy Blewett,
Hirschman, Kevin Goodale and Darwin Green. Bertuccio took out his
frustrations on Grigas with a barrage of foul language, punches and kicks
aimed at Grigas even though the culprit was a leaking tire! Eric Goodale led
the restart with Christopher, second. By lap 5 Andy Seuss had moved into
second spot after starting in seventh spot. Seuss was able to get close but
was unable to make a move on Christopher. At the finish, Christopher took
the win. Eric Goodale beat Seuss by a whisker for the runner up spot. Seuss
settled for third. Jon McKennedy and Hirschman rounded out the top five.
In NASCAR action at the Daytona International Speedway Jeff Gordon and
Kyle Busch were the winners of the Thursday Gatorade Dual 150 mile Daytona
500 qualifying races. Gordon, ended the longest winless drought of his
career by winning the first duel. Busch also made an overdue return to
Victory Lane, where he was a frequent visitor in 2008 before tailing off
when the championship was on the line. Busch won eight races and led the Cup
standings most of the season, but started to falter in August and fell apart
when the Chase for the championship began.
Tony Stewart held off a last-lap challenge from Kyle Busch to win the
Nationwide race Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Stewart passed
23 cars in 11 laps to get back into contention after pitting with 30 laps to
go in the 120-lap Camping World 300, then hung onto the lead as Busch, Carl
Edwards and Clint Bowyer fought for position. Brad Keselowski led several
times and appeared to be one of the cars to beat, but he banged off the wall
on lap 108. Two laps later, his right rear tire blew, bringing out the last
of six caution flags and setting up the dash to the finish. Edwards led at
that point, but Stewart, with help from Chevy driver Bowyer, pushed past
into the lead after the restart on lap 114.As the laps wound down, Stewart
seemed to be a sitting duck, especially after Busch, who won 10 Nationwide
races last year, moved into second place three laps from the end. On the
final trip around the 2.5-mile oval, Busch moved up to Stewart's rear bumper
and gave him a nudge. Stewart's car wobbled and drifted high as Busch's
Toyota moved nearly alongside. But, somehow, Stewart stayed just ahead of
Busch. Then Edwards and defending series champion Bowyer went to the outside
to pass Busch.
Matt Kenseth drove from the back of the field to take the Daytona 500
lead minutes before the sky opened up, handing the former series champion
his first victory in NASCAR’s version of the Super Bowl.
Coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, Kenseth’s bad luck
followed him into Daytona International Speedway. He wrecked his primary
car, had to go to a backup and started Sunday’s race in last place. But As
Rain Closed In On The Season-Opening Event, The Field Turned It Up A Notch,
anticipating the race would not go the distance. Kenseth used a huge push
from Kevin Harvick to pass Elliott Sadler with 54 laps to go. Caution came
out moments later for an accident started by Paul Menard, and the rain that
had been threatening all day finally arrived. NASCAR stopped the race two
laps later, and the cars were called to pit road. Some drivers climbed from
their cars to await NASCAR’s decision on whether to restart the race, but
Kenseth sat patiently inside his parked Ford on pit road. When NASCAR
declared it over, the 2003 Cup champion tearfully climbed from his car to
celebrate his victory, which snapped a 36-race winless streak. It was also
the first Daytona 500 win for team owner Jack Roush. Kevin Harvick, who used
a push from Kenseth to win the 500 in 2007, finished second. AJ Allmendinger,
who had to race his way into the field in one of Thursday’s qualifiers,
finished third. Clint Bowyer was fourth and Sadler was fifth, devastated he
lost the lead moments before the rain stopped the race.
Last year, 2013, The much touted
Battle of the Beach at the Daytona International Speedway should have ended
in a brawl following the checkered flag. Maybe it did behind the scenes but
the live cameras were quickly diverted from any post race interviews or
activities. What started out as a good idea turned into a typical NASCAR
Kyle Larson, the defending NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Champion, who is
considered one of NASCAR's next "Golden Boys" literally put the bumper to
race leader C.E.Falk as they ran one-two to the checkered flag. Coming off
the fourth turn on the final lap Larson executed a one -two punch as he
first hit him on the inside followed by the shot that finished him off.
Larson took his No. 98 Chevrolet Late Model to Victory Lane with a crumpled
front nose after winning the inaugural Whelen All-American Series feature at
the Speedway. Larson appeared somewhat arrogant as he exited his car and
stood on the roof where he was roundly booed by those in the grandstand. He
told the Daytona News Journal " "I don't get booed very often, It's kind of
NASCAR control did not do themselves any favors in the credibility
department as they allowed the finish to stand. It's too bad because the
race it self was pretty decent up to the final moment when Larsen ruined it
and NASCAR let it slide.
The first annual "Battle at the Beach" for the Whelen Modifieds saw
another "bump and run" affect the outcome. Pole sitter Todd Szegedy led the
first 126 laps of the temporary four-tenths-mile, but dropped out with a
broken suspension on lap 127. Mike Stefanik inherited the lead and held off
the challenges of Kyle Larson until he missed a shift on a restart with four
laps to go, collecting Woody Pitkat in the process, setting the stage for
Park’s last-lap victory. Steve Park, a former Modified tour driver, had
worked his way from a 26th starting spot in Szegedy's team car. On the final
restart, a green-white checker on lap 149, Park slipped under Eric Goodale
for second spot. Stefanik took the white flag in the lead and while he was
exiting turn to was deliberately spun by Park who went on to take the win.
Goodale ended up finishing second with Boehler team cars driven by Ted
Christopher and Doug Coby, third and fourth. Patrick Emerling finished
A very dejected Mike Stefanik finished 13th, one lap down. In a post race
interview the multi time series champion was livid, almost spitting nails
when he spoke. Park tried to suggest that Goodale had drilled him, forcing
him into the back of Stefanik. A blind man could see that it was not the
case, it was an out and out dump job.
The event produced 17 caution periods and should strongly be reconsidered
before scheduling it for next year.
Evidently based on the "Battle of the Beach" brand of officiating NASCAR
feels that it is ok to take out the leader without fear of penalty. NASCAR
showed that it has no respect for it's competitors. If for nothing else, one
who takes out the leader should be placed at the tail end of the lead lap at
the finish, not rewarded with a trophy and a big check.
Canadian Cameron Hayley won the K&N series race.
Modified racing returned to New Smyrna on Wednesday night with the John
Blewett III Memorial 76 lapper. Woody Pitkat made it two for three at the
Samsula, Fla oval as he put the Hillbilly Racing 79 in victory lane.
Fourteen cars went to post. Among the missing was Ted Christopher and the
Joe Brady 00. For reasons not given, Brady elected to load up and go home.
Matt Hirschman also headed home to seek medical attention for a broken wrist
and Brandon Ward called it a week because of motor issues.
The Modifieds ran the entire distance with one caution for a minor spin
by Danny Watts. Despite starting on the pole it was not a cakewalk for
Pitkat. Ron Silk raced into the lead on the tenth lap and it wasn't until
lap 32 when Pitkat took it back. Chuck Hossfeld came alive to take the lead
on lap 53 but in the closing laps it was Pitkat who prevailed as he retook
the lead on lap 65 and romped to the win. Hossfeld hung on for second with
Andy Seuss, third. Patrick Emerling and Jimmy Zacharias rounded out the top
five. Hossfeld was later disqualified when it was determined that his car
had an illegal gear in the rear end.
On Thursday night at New Smyrna, Woody Pitkat continued on a roll as he
wracked up another win, coming from a fourth place start.
Thirteen cars went o post for the 35 lap feature. Earl Paules took the lead
on the start with Chuck Hossfeld and Andy Seuss in tow. Paules continued to
lead until giving way to Seuss on lap 25. Paules wasn't about to roll over
and play dead as he banged wheels with Seuss on lap 26. Before another lap
was completed Paules found himself in the wall with his right front wheel
hanging off the car. Seuss led the restart with Pitkat on his bumper. With
five to go Pitkat shot into the top spot where he remained to the finish.
Seuss faded to third as Hossfeld moved into second at the checker. Jimmy
Zacharias finished fourth with Eric Goodale, fifth.
Friday was a big day at the New Smyrna Speedway. In addition to hosting
the annual Richie Evans Memorial 100 lap Modified event the speedway hosted
the Annual Modified Reunion on the speedway grounds. Car owners, drivers,
fans and officials from many past decades of racing were on hand to mingle
and enjoy the numerous picnics. The place was packed.
Woody Pitkat had been the dominator all week at New Smyrna but it was Ron
Silk who rose to the occasion to score the victory in the Richie Evans 100.
Silk started fourth and was never a factor until the late stages after his
competition used up their tires. A pit stop on lap 65 set the stage for the
run to the checker. Restarting eighth, Silk picked them off on by one. On
lap 83 he made a bottom shot on Chuck Hossfeld for the lead and went on to
take the win from there. Hossfeld applied a lot of pressure but to no avail
as Silk took the checkered flag. Hossfeld finished second with Pitkat,
third. Burt Myers and Jimmy Zacharias rounded out the top five.
The New Smyrna Speedway closed out the World Series on Saturday night.
Chuck Hossfeld won the battle but it was Woody Pitkat who won the war.
Pitkat wrapped up the World Series Modified title with a solid second place
finish on the final night of competition. Nine cars took the green on the
final night of competition. Patrick Emerling took the lead from pole sitter
Pitkat on the start. Hossfeld took the lead on lap 4 and that's all she
wrote. Pitkat held on for second with Andy Seuss, third. Emerling and Jimmy
Zacharias rounded out the top five.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing Kevin Harvick remained perfect through
Speedweeks on Thursday by winning the first of two 150-mile Budweiser Duel
qualifying races. Kyle Busch, won the second duel.
The Camping World Truck Series took center stage on Friday night. Johnny
Sauter was taken out on the final lap at Daytona International Speedway last
year. This year, another late wreck helped him get to Victory Lane. Sauter
caught a break when defending series champion James Buescher crashed on the
final lap of the Trucks Series opener, bringing out a caution that prevented
veteran Kyle Busch from making a last-lap move on the leader. Instead,
Sauter cruised to victory.
In Nationwide Series Racing at Daytona Tony Stewart drove through wrecked
cars and debris to win for the 19th time at Daytona and seventh time in the
last nine season-opening Nationwide races at the Florida track.
Kyle Larson, who crashed his way to victory in the late Model portion of
the "Battle at the Beach", found himself involved in a last lap crash that
sent his car sailing into the fence that separates the track from the seats,
and large chunks of his car landed in the grandstands. The car itself had
its entire front end sheared off, with a piece of burning engine wedged
through a gaping hole in the fence.
At least 33 fans were injured after a tire and large pieces of debris
flew into the stands. The crash began as the field approached the checkered
flag and leader Regan Smith attempted to block Brad Keselowski to preserve
Danica Patrick made history out front at the Daytona 500, only to see
five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson reclaim his spot at the top in the
end. Johnson won his second Daytona 500 with a late push on Sunday, grabbing
the spotlight from Patrick as she faded on the final lap. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
settled for second as Hendrick drivers went 1-2 in the new Chevrolet SS.
Mark Martin was third in a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.
That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and
R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-mail:
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
Looking Back Archive
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