RPW Column: Looking Back A Bit; Second Week Of February

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Fifty years ago in 1970, Pete Hamilton, driving a Petty Superbird, was an upset winner in the Daytona 500.The event was televised on closed circuit TV. Among the first to greet Hamilton in victory lane were Steady Eddie Flemke, Billy Harman and George Pendergast.

Forty five years ago in 1975 the NASCAR Modifieds were part of Daytona speedweeks as they ran a 200-mile event on the 4.1-mile infield road course. Merv Treichler took the win over Fred DeSarro, Jerry Cook, Billy Osmun, Don Flynn and Will Cagle. Bobby Allison and Dick Brooks were the 125-mile qualifying race winners and in the 500 Benny Parsons scored an upset victory after late event leader David Pearson spun out.

Forty years ago in 1980, Richie Evans continued his win streak at New Smyrna as he won on Monday and Tuesday. After a rain out on Wednesday night, Geoff Bodine who had finished second to Evans the last two times out came back on Thursday night and went on to wrack up three in a row. The final night of competition saw Junior Handley take the series finale over George Kent and Evans. Richie Evans as the overall point leader and was crowned the series champion. Buddy Baker was the Daytona 500 winner and in the process set a record speed of 177.602mph.

Thirty five years ago in 1985, Reggie Ruggiero made it two in a row on Monday night at New Smyrna. Doug Hewitt finished second and was followed by Charlie Jarzombek, Richie Evans, Jamie Tomaino and Jim Spencer. Evans and Jim Spencer dominated the rest of the week. Evans won on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and just lost out on the series title, which was won by Spencer. At Daytona, Bill Elliot and Cale Yarborough won the 125’s.Geoff Bodine won the Busch Grandnational 300 and Elliot won the 500.

Thirty years ago in 1990, Tiger Tom Baldwin made it two in a row at New Smyrna as he beat out Tony Jankowiac on Monday night. Jay Hedgecock finished third with Richard Savory, fourth. At Daytona, Darrell Waltrip took the pole for the NAPA 300 with Dale Earnhardt on the outside. At New Smyrna on Tues night, Reggie Ruggerio took the top spot with Jankowiac again second. Hedgecock abandoned New Smyrna and went to Volusia County where he took the top spot over Jim Winks and Tom Bolles. Baldwin also jumped ship but to no avail as he could do no better than ninth. Wednesday night at New Smyrna Reggie Ruggerio was not to be denied as he romped to victory over Jankowiac and Jeff Fuller. Meanwhile over at Volusia, Jim Winks, driving for Ted Marsh took the win over Jerry Cranmer. Jankowiac finally got it all together as he won at New Smyrna on Thursday night. Ruggerio finished a close second but couldn’t muster the little extra needed to take the win. Jeff Fuller won at Volusia over Cranmer and Winks. Ruggerio turned the tables on Friday night as he beat Jankowiac to the stripe for his fourth win of the series. Hedgecock won the series ending Richie Evans 100 on Saturday night. Jankowiac finished second and wrapped up the series title. Dale Earnhardt dominated the entire Daytona 500 on Sunday until it came to the final lap. Going into turn three, he had a tire go down and allowed Derike Cope to take home the win for Bob Witcomb.

Twenty five years ago in 1995, It rained at New Smyrna on Monday night. At the Daytona Speedway, Michael Waltrip took the pole for the Goodys 300.Dale Jarrett took the outside pole. Tuesday night at New Smyrna saw a new name in victory lane as Tim Connelly took the win over Mike Ewanitsko and Tom Baldwin. Just to show he was no flash in the pan; Connelly came back and won the next three in a row on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Reggie Ruggerio finished second on Wednesday and was followed by Eric Beers and Ewanitsko. Steve Park finished second on Thursday followed by Ted Christopher and on Friday, Ruggerio was second with Jamie Tomaino, third. At Daytona on Thursday, Sterling Marlin and Dale Earnhardt won the 125’s.The Richie Evans 100 closed out the New Smyrna series on Saturday night. Steve Park took the win over Baldwin, Tom Cravenho and Beers. Connolly finished 14th and wrapped up the series championship. Connolly drove the Bob Fuller No.17. At Daytona, Chad Little came from a 42nd provisional spot to take the win. Steve Grissom, who was leading when Little went by, lifted, triggering a big wreck. Michael Waltrip finished second. Sterling Marlin beat out Dale Earnhardt to win the Daytona 500.

Twenty years ago in 2000, rain washed out the action at New Smyrna on Monday night. On Tuesday, Ted Christopher picked up where he left off as he recorded his third win of the series. Charlie Pasteryak finished second with Jamie Tomaino and Mike Ewanitsko following. On Wednesday night, Christopher and Mike Ewanitsko in Joe Brady team cars finished one-two. Eric Beers, Jamie Tomaino and Doug French rounded out the top five. Usually the 125-mile Daytona 500-mile qualifiers are the best events of the week at Daytona but in 2000 they produced little competition and no passing, turning the events into a bore. Thursday night at New Smyrna saw Christopher continue his win streak in spite of constant pressure from Jamie Tomaino and Junior Handley. Friday at Daytona saw one of the most violent wrecks ever seen at the 2-1/2 mile oval when Geoff Bodine all but destroyed his truck in a bone jarring wreck that had everyone holding their breath. Bodine suffered a broken wrist and a broken toe plus numerous scrapes. Junior Handley ended Christopher’s win streak on Friday night as he went pole to pole to take the win at New Smyrna over Tomaino, David Berghman, Doug French and Christopher. At Daytona on Saturday, Matt Kenneth won the Busch Grandnational Goodys 300.Christopher and Ewanitsko ran one-two in the Richie Evans Memorial 100.Handley finished third and was followed by Jim Willis, Berghman, George Bock, Eric Beers and Bobby Santos III. Christopher was awarded the series championship. At the Daytona 500, Dale Jarrett passed Johnny Benson with two laps to go to win his third Daytona 500 Jeff Burton finished second with Bill Elliott, third.

Fifteen years ago in 2005, after having Sunday night off the Modifieds and SK Modifieds returned to the high banks at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida on Monday night. Ted Christopher led the 22 car starting field to the green in the 25 lap Modified feature. Christopher led the entire distance to record his second win. Don Lia, who had been having handling problems, got it all together and spent the closing moments of the race beating on Christopher’s rear bumper. Christopher sealed his fate when he caught Lia sleeping on a restart with two laps to go. Chuck Hossfeld finished third with Zach Sylvester and Eric Beers rounding out the top five. Among the night’s casualties was Jonothan McKennedy who took a hard shot into the wall just after he finished seventh. His Michael Boehler owned No. 34 sustained considerable damage from the impact and had to be towed from the scene. Tim Arre, driving the Connecticut based Bear Motorsports No.14 continued to have bad luck as he was forced to retire early in the event and ended up in 20th spot. In the SK Modified feature Mike Holdredge was headed for victory until Chris Jones rode him up and out of the racing groove in the closing moments. This incident opened the door to Tim Arre who went on to take the win. The Super Late Models enjoyed a night off.

Ted Christopher scored a one-two punch in World Series action at New Smyrna on Tuesday night as he won not only the Modified feature but the Super Late Model feature as well.. Thirty seven Modifieds including 15 SKs were on hand. It looked like Don Lia had finally shaken off the bad luck that has plagued him in Florida as he took the lead in the Modified 25 lap feature on the first lap from Charlie Pasteryak. His bubble burst on lap 10 when a transmission malfunction forced him out of the event, handing the lead to Christopher. Kevin Goodale had his best run to date in the series as he finished second. Zach Sylvester finished a solid third with Eric Beers, fourth. Riverhead Raceway hot shoe JR Bertuccio replaced Tim Arre in the Bear Motorsports No. 14 and recorded a fifth in his first outing. Chuck Hossfeld finished sixth with Charlie Pasteryak, seventh. Christopher, who is on the cover of the latest issue of Speedway Illustrated, started on the pole and led every lap of the Super Late Model feature. One of the biggest wrecks in the history of the speedway occurred during the event when Ryan Mathews got launched into the catch fence on the front chute when he rode over second place runner David Rogers. After tearing up the catch fence Mathews flipped high in the air and went end over end past the starters stand and landed almost to the entrance of turn one. Mathews escaped with minor bumps and bruises but the event was red-flagged for an extended period while the fence was repaired.

The temperatures and competition heated up last Wednesday night as the Modifieds at New Smyrna went 50 laps. The heat was on as temps hit the low 80’s during the day and Ted Christopher remained hot at night as he made it four out of five in World Series competition. Eddie Flemke and the Hill’s Enterprises team joined the mix as a full field of 24 Modifieds went to post for their first extra distance event. Kevin Goodale, who qualified seventh, drew the pole and led the charge to the green flag. The first caution period of the night came on lap 2 when JR Bertuccio had the misfortune of having his Bear Motorsports No.14 catch fire as he came to a halt on the backstretch. The field no sooner took the green flag when Eddie Flemke came to a grinding halt in turn three. It appeared that Flemke had a right rear tire blow out which turned him into the unforgiving concrete wall. Flemke’s car sustained heavy damage including having the right front suspension torn off. Caution no.3 came on lap five when Goodale got a little over excited while leading the restart and spun. Also collected were Jeff Malave, Andy Seuss and Jonathan McKennedy. Christopher inherited the lead and was untouchable for the rest of the distance as he captured his fourth win of the series. Chuck Hossfeld finished second with Eric Beers, third. Rounding out the top five were Charlie Pasteryak and Curtis Truex JR. Don Lia continued to have problems as his car came to a halt in a cloud of smoke on the 17th lap. Eric Beers was the SK Modified winner with Chris Jones, second.

A new winner emerged in Modified competition on Thursday night as Riverhead, Long Islands’ Kevin Goodale won his first ever Modified feature. Goodale started on the outside of pole sitter Zach Sylvester. Shortly after Sylvester led the charge to the green in the 25 lap feature he spun between turns one and two. Goodale assumed the lead and never looked back as he sprinted to victory ahead of Ted Christopher and Eric Beers. Sylvester restarted in the rear but was never a factor as he finished 12th in the final rundown. Don Lia and Andy Seuss rounded out the top five. Ed Flemke made it back as he finished behind sixth and seventh place finishers Chuck Hossfeld and Charlie Pasteryak. With the exception of a delay caused when a Sportsman car took out 100 feet of fence on the backstretch it was a relatively quiet night. Among the missing were JR Bertuccio and the Bear Motorsports No.14 who called it a week as they were out of motors. Steve Reed was the SK Modified winner over Eric Beers and Dave Michael.

Don Lia, who had less than a satisfying week at New Smyrna, more than made up for it as he won the Friday night Richie Evans Memorial 100. Lia was the top qualifier and started on the pole. Lia was the class of the field until pitting under caution at the half way mark for fresh tires. Chuck Hossfeld, who started second, elected to stay out and assumed the lead with Kevin Goodale in tow. Hossfeld was planning on going non-stop until his tires started giving out shortly after the 75 lap mark. Hossfeld was hoping to hang on but to no avail as he was forced to pit with victory in sight with ten laps to go. Lia had sliced his way to the front and took over the top spot on lap 91 and went on to take the victory. Goodale finished second. Hossfeld made a determined charge after restarting in the rear of the field and managed to salvage a third place finish at the end. Charlie Pasteryak and Curtis Truex Jr. rounded out the top five. Ted Christopher had one problem after another. After starting sixth, Christopher worked his way up to the runner-up spot before he pitted with the leaders at the half way mark. After numerous pit stops the defending Stafford Speedway champ worked his way back to fourth spot only to spin out of contention on lap 97. He ended up 8th in the final rundown. Despite a hard wreck in practice Eddie Flemke had one of the fastest cars in the field. After starting 11th Flemke worked his way into the top five by lap 24 only to tangle with Goodale and spin. After pitting at half way Flemke came back to close in on Jeff Malave who was running fourth at the time and was able to make the pass. Flemke and Lia battled for position. On lap 68 contact was made and Flemke spun to the infield and was hit by Jonathan McKennedy who also hit Zach Sylvester. All three were done for the night. Chris Jones was the SK Modified winner over Steve Reed and Dave Michael.

Chuck Hossfeld won the final battle of the 2005 World Series of Asphalt Modified racing at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida but it was Ted Christopher who won the war as he wrapped up the Modified series championship for himself and car owner Joe Brady. In the night’s 25 lap feature Charlie Pasteryak led the pack to the starting green with Chuck Hossfeld in hot pursuit. Andy Seuss spun on the front chute. Before the caution came out Hossfeld had taken the lead from Pasteryak. Pasteryak got hung out to dry after a gentle nudge by Christopher. By the half way mark Hossfeld continued to lead with Don Lia moving into the runner-up spot. Curtis Truex had been running in second spot but he had gotten shuffled back to fifth spot. Truex’s night came to an end on lap 14 when he hit the turn 2 wall after an encounter with Christopher. Following Hossfeld at the finish were Lia, Eric Beers, Zach Sylvester, Christopher, Kevin Goodale and Pasteryak. Steve Reed was the SK Modified winner. In addition to winning the Modified title Christopher finished fourth in the Super Late Model standings. Louis Mechalides took the Super Late Model title.

Long Island modified driver Kevin Goodale came away from New Smyrna with one of the greatest gifts a driver could ever get, confidence! Prior to the World Series Goodale was just another obscure middle of the pack runner. With a win plus a runner-up finish and a fourth in points Goodale has emerged as a possible top runner once the Whelen Modified Tour begins. Despite winning the Modified championship, his seventh, Ted Christopher went away a little disappointed. In addition to winning four Modified races Christopher won one of the Super Late Model races and was leading the point standings in that division until he was forced to miss the last two events because his team was out of engines. Zach Sylvester went to Florida with a new paint scheme and a somewhat new crew, hoping to get a leg up on the 2005 Whelen Modified Tour season. Sylvester’s best finishes were a third and a couple of fourths. Car owner Tom Sylvester felt confident and believed the week was a learning experience which would give them an advantage once the regular season began. Milford Connecticut’s Chris Jones left New Smyrna with a bloody nose and has vowed never to return. Jones, who was thrown out of Stafford in 2004 because of his antics and over aggression, ran in the SK Modified division at New Smyrna. Jones was leading the point standings and the feature until the final lap on the final night when an explosive situation developed. Jones was obviously blocking second place runner Steve Reed. As they exited turn two Reed made a move under Jones. The pair touched and Jones spun out of the lead. As Reed was slowing down to stop in victory lane Jones walled him in retaliation. It didn’t end there as Jones stormed into the middle of the victory celebration and ended up in a wrestling match with a track official.

While the New England region was getting pounded by yet another snow storm Developer Gene Arganese’s proposal for a zone change to bring a racetrack to Plainfield, CT. was in process. The meeting kept the Planning and Zoning Commission, along with close to 600 residents, at the high school longer than most would have liked. The five-hour hearing ended after midnight when the commission voted to close the public hearing on the proposal. It will discuss the issue March 3. With the public hearing closed, the commission has 65 days to render a decision on Arganese’s second attempt at changing zoning regulations to allow a resort/recreational development (C-5) zone which is needed to construct his proposed enclosed racetrack.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) settled their case against the Daytona International Speedway involving the death of track worker Roy Weaver during the 2004 Dash race. He was on the racetrack surface during a caution period to retrieve debris in Turn 2 of the Speedway. In the future track workers would have written guidelines, hands-on training and a definitive chain of command during racing events as part of a settlement agreement which was arrived at. OSHA withdrew its most serious citation against the track, its failure to have a written protocol for workers stepping onto the track. The track will also train its safety teams at least once a year and strengthen radio communication between the control tower and those on the ground tending to accident situations. A speedway spokesman stated that the track has been training its safety crews but does not have written documents on the subject. It was the first track worker death at the speedway since it opened in 1959. There were 12 additional violations and fines the Speedway did not contest. The Speedway would pay fines which total $4,875 for other minor citations dealt with issues including a security employee without hearing protection and a track worker without a helmet.

Tony Stewart won the Hershey’s Take 5 300 Busch Series race in spectacular fashion. Not only did he avoid trouble on lap 95 when he drove through the grass in Turn 1 and then simply drove right back onto the banking into traffic, but he also came from 17th place in the closing laps for the win on Saturday at the Daytona International Speedway. Kevin Harvick finished second, with Dale Earnhardt Jr., defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne rounding out the top five. Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Reed Sorenson ran with the leaders most of the day and finished ninth. Fellow rookie Carl Edwards (10th place) was the only other NASCAR Busch Series regular to finish in the top 10. Jeff Gordon came out on top to win his third Daytona 500. The four-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion grabbed the lead from Dale Earnhardt Jr. with three laps to go, then held off the defending race winner during the final three-lap dash to the finish. For the second year in a row, Tony Stewart led the most laps and was in position to take his first win in the “Great American Race,” but was shuffled back through the pack when Earnhardt passed him with five laps to go, eventually winding up seventh at the finish line. Kurt Busch pressured Gordon as the finish but had to settle for second, while Earnhardt took third. Scott Riggs garnered an impressive fourth-place finish while Gordon’s teammate, Jimmie Johnson, finished fifth.

Ten years ago in 2010, Tour type Modified and SK type Modified racing at the New Smyrna World Series continued on Monday night. In Tour type competition Ronnie Silk got the best of Ted Christopher on lap 14 and went on to take the 25 lap win. Christopher finished second and was followed by John Jensen, Kevin Goodale and Rob Fuller. Keith Rocco was the 20 lap SK type feature winner.

The second rain out of the series occurred on Tuesday night. It was announced that Don Lia informed Bob Garbarino that he would not defend his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series title as he had secured a ride in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

On Wednesday night at New Smyrna temperatures were in the low 30’s but emotions and tempers were high. Ted Christopher won the tour type John Blewett III Memorial 50 lapper. Christopher took the lead from Chuck Hossfeld on lap 8 and in the end, held off Ron Silk for the win. Silk was later disqualified in a post race inspection when officials discovered an illegal cam shaft in his “Spec Engine”. Chuck Hossfeld was moved up into second spot. Silks night had only begun as the SK type event would turn ugly. He ended up with the win but it wasn’t pretty as he and Keith Rocco had a race-long conflict that ended with physical violence between two teams. Rocco and Silk tangled in the late stages of the event with Rocco incurring getting the most damage. As tow trucks hooked up the Rocco car he picked up a 2×4 and threw it at Silk, hitting his car just above the window. Rocco’s crew made repairs in time for the restart. Rocco restarted in fourth spot after being waved by cars that were in the rear. On the restart Silk’s engine blubbered as Rocco shot into the lead. The action reached a fever pitch on the white flag lap. With Silk and Rocco on the backstretch, Silk rode him up to the point where he hit the wall. Silk took the checker and pitted after a cool-down lap. Rocco followed him to victory lane where the name-calling turned into a physical confrontation. Track security was forced to Mace some of those including Rocco in order to bring the crowd under control. The end result was that Rocco was escorted off the track and was told that he was done for the week.

Silk returned on Thursday night and came away a double winner as he won both SK type and Mod Tour type events. Silk was unable to get a replacement engine or camshaft. Instead, his crew added 100# to the cars weight. In the tour type feature Silk passed Chuck Hossfeld on lap 9 and ran pretty much uncontested the rest of the 25 lap distance. Hossfeld finished second followed by James Civale and Eric Goodale. Ted Christopher finished 14th after wrecking. Silk went pole to pole in the SK type event.

Friday night’s Richie Evans Memorial 100 was rained out and rescheduled to Saturday night.

The skies were clear and the weather was cold for the Richie Evans Memorial on Saturday night. Matt Hirschman took the lead from James Civali on lap 89 to win the 100 lap contest. Ron Silk, who had been running one of the new spec engines had his crew do an engine change and finished third. Rowan Pennick and Kyle Ebersol rounded out the top five. Ted Christopher finished 14th and wrapped up the series championship by10 points over John Jensen. The SK types did not run. Ron Silk was declared the series champion.

At the Daytona Int. Speedway, Jimmie Johnson won the 1st Gatorade Duel at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday, beating Kevin Harvick by about an inch. Kasey Kahne won the 2nd Gatorade Duel at Daytona International Speedway, beating Tony Stewart by a couple of inches.

Jamie McMurray held off a hard charging Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the last lap of the 2nd green-white-checker try to win the 52nd Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. The race ran an extra 8 laps, for 208 laps and 520 miles. The win was McMurray’s 4th of his career and 2nd at Daytona. The race took just over 6 hours to run as there were two lengthy red flag for holes in the turn two area that needed repair. Greg Biffle, who led going in to the 1st green-white-checker, finished 3rd, followed by Clint Bowyer and David Reutimann.

Tony Stewart won the Nationwide Series race at Daytona.

Five years ago in 2015, Ryan Preece was on a mission Monday night at New Smyrna as he wasted little time after the drop of the green of night No.4’s Tour type Modified feature. Preece started third in the 14 car field and as the field completed lap one, shot past Justin Bonsignore for the lead. Try as he might, Bonsignore’s car was no match for the all new Troyer Concept Car that car owner Eddie Partridge had purchased for 2015. Bonsignore finished second after a spirited battle with Chuck Hossfeldt who ended up third. JR Bertuccio and Jimmy Zacharias rounded out the top five. Eddie MacDonald made it two for two as he won the American-Canadian Tour 100. Wayne Helliwell, a two-time ACT champions, used patience throughout the event to make his way to the front and eventually challenge MacDonald on a late restart before settling for a second-place finish. Alex Labbé finished third. Keith Rocco got his new engine and finished 13th. Coming from the rear, Rocco had worked his way into the top five before being slowed by a deflating tire. Jeff Rocco finished 20th.

Rain washed out all racing at New Smyrna on Tuesday night.

In Wednesday night action at New Smyrna, Eddie MacDonald ended up going three for three in American-Canadian Tour competition. The field was inverted and coming from a 17th starting spot was not a problem. MacDonald took the lead after diving under Keith Rocco and Brad Babb in lap 71. Wayne Helliwell, Jr. ended up in second spot with Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., third. Babb and Alex Labb’e rounded out the top five. Rocco finished sixth. Eric Goodale broke the strangle hold that Ryan Preece had on the Modifieds at New Smyrna as he took the win in the John BlewettIII Memorial 76 lap event. Goodale took advantage of Preece’s mis-handling mount with two laps to go as he shot into the lead. At the checker, Preece had faded to third as Justin Bonsignore took over the runner-up spot. JR Bertuccio and Chuck Hossfeldt rounded out the top five.

Also on Wednesday night, Brett Hearn took the checkered flag on the dirt at Volusia Speedway Park in the Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Series opener during the DIRTcar Nationals. Hearn swept into the lead late in the 30-lap feature then charged to victory for the 861st time overall in his storied career. Hearn dedicated the victory and the Gator trophy to fellow racer Brian Stevens, who lost his battle with cancer earlier in the day.

David Garbo, a native of Stonington, Connecticut, took the lead from early leader Brandon Jones on lap 20 of the 50-lap Super Late Model feature and never looked back on the way to scoring his first career SLM victory on Thursday night at the New Smyrna Speedway. Ryan Preece continued his winning ways in the Modifieds in Florida. Preece took the lead from JR Bertuccio on lap 21 of the 35 lap feature. Bertuccio faded in the closing laps as he gave way to Chuck Hossfeld who finished second. Bertuccio, Eric Goodale and Jim Zacharias rounded out the top five.

The Daytona International Speedway ran “The Duals” on Thursday night in front of a lot of empty seats. Defending Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. went from last to first to win thenight’s first Budweiser Duel at Daytona qualifying race. He defeated Hendrick Motorsports teammate and Daytona 500 pole winner Jeff Gordon’s Chevrolet by .166 of a second. Joey Logano was third followed by Tony Stewart with Clint Bowyer rounding out the top five.In the second “Dual” Jimmie Johnson was able to hold off the field at the finish and Danica Patrick was able to work her way into the Daytona 500 starting lineup with a 10th-place finish in a damaged race car. Johnson defeated Kyle Busch by .125 of a second. Carl Edwards was third with Greg Biffle, fourth and Martin Truex Jr., fifth.

In a somewhat related matter, NASCAR has indefinitely suspended Kurt Busch after a Kent County (Del.) Family Court commissioner issued his opinion linking the driver to domestic violence acts that were allegedly committed by Busch against his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll.

Ryan Preece was the odds-on favorite to win the Richie Evans Memorial 100 on Friday night. He delivered and also wrapped up the series championship. At the drop of the green, Cole Powell jumped out to the early lead while Preece conservatively ran near the rear of the 14 car field. Spencer Davis was also an early factor as he stretched out a big lead with his Hill family mount

Chuck Hossfeld, who had been a bridesmaid all week looked like he had the right combination as he took the lead on lap 71 with Preece in his mirror. Hossfeld’s blaze of glory lasted only one lap as Preece took the low road and the lead. Hossfeld held on for second. Eric Goodale, J.R. Bertuccio, and Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top five. Preece was honored post-race as the series Champion.

Ryan Reed stayed out of two major late-race crashes during the Alert Today Florida 300 at the Daytona Speedwy on Saturday, got a run on leader Brad Keselowski on the final lap and used a push from Roush Fenway Racing teammate Chris Buescher to take the lead. Reed, who has overcome Type 2 Diabetes to continue racing, celebrated wildly in Victory Lane. The emotions were quite different in the Joe Gibbs Racing pit. Kyle Busch suffered a right-leg injury after a vicious crash with nine laps to go saw his No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry hit the inside concrete retaining wall, which doesn’t have a SAFER barrier, at 90 mph. Brad Keselowski finished second.

Joey Logano had one of the few cars capable of beating a Chevrolet brigade as the driver of the No. 22 Pennzoil/Shell Ford won the 57th Daytona 500 on Sunday, holding off 2007 Daytona winner Kevin Harvick and defending Daytona champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jeff Gordon, who appeared to be a prime contender to win the Daytona 500 in his final attempt, crashed on the backstretch of a green, white, checkered flag finish. Logano won the race when the checkered and yellow flags were displayed on the 203rd and final lap of the 200-lap race that went into overtime.

Logano’s Ford defeated Harvick’s Chevrolet by 1.006 seconds. Earnhardt’s Chevrolet was third followed by Denny Hamlin’s Toyota and Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet. Logano is a graduate of the Thompson Speedway Quarter Midget ranks.

Big news continued to come out of eastern Connecticut concerning the future of the Waterford Speedbowl. Internet racing news site RaceDayCT.com reported that new track owner Bruce Bemer confirmed exclusively to RaceDayCT that he has named Shawn Monahan as the new general manager/promoter of the facility. Bemer also said that former track owner Terry Eames would not be a part of the track’s management staff in any capacity going forward. Monahan said he would bring former race director Scott Tapley back to the track. Tapley left his position as race director at the Speedbowl after the 2012 season to become the series director for the Valenti Modified Racing Series. Tapley is now the race director at Thompson Speedway, Lee USA Speedway in Lee N.H. and also leads the Mr. Rooter New New England Truck Series.

Longtime track official Eric Webster would serve as chief steward under Tapley. Patrick Williams, who served as race director last year, will work under Tapley and Webster. Monahan said other slots within the management of the facility will be filled soon.

Monahan said the track will remain NASCAR sanctioned and management is in talks with NASCAR to get a Whelen Modified Tour date for the 2015 season, despite the fact that NASCAR has already released a Whelen Modified Tour schedule. An opening weekend for racing has not been decided upon as of yet.

In operation since 1951, the shoreline oval has provided second to none in competition. As a racer, Monahan has seen the best and the worst in management at the speedbowl. It is sincerely hoped that Bruce Bemer and Shawn Monahan will breathe new life into the track and will have many years of success in their operation.

On a sad note, Mike Chapman, 62, died Monday, February 16, 2015 at his home in East Wareham unexpectedly. Mike was active in automobile racing for many years. He was a pit crew member and crew chief for several NASCAR Modified Series and ARCA teams. Mike was race director for both Thompson and Seekonk Speedways and also worked as a spotter at Daytona International Speedway.

Last year, 2019, The annual World Series of Auto Racing at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida shifted into high gear on Monday running a make-up K & N event that was rained out plus the first of five tour type Modified events that were scheduled. Doug Coby and Phil Moran went to New Smyrna to get a leg up on their competition in the 2019 Whelen Modified Tour Series. If Monday night was any indication it appeared that they did their homework. Coby started on the pole and never looked back as he led the entire 50 lap distance to record the win in the 24 car starting field. Second place finisher Patrick Emerling was never a factor. Matt Hirschman finished third after a late race surge. Jimmy Blewett was never a factor as he finished fourth. Anthony Nocella rounded out the top five. Ryan Preece ran his first of three scheduled races but fell victim to a broken shifter which put him two laps down.

In the super late model division, Pollard also earned his first World Series triumph aboard David Rogers familiar No. 11. Other feature winners on the evening included Augie Grill in the pro late model class and Travis Eddy in the Florida Modified division. Derek Kraus won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East opener that kicked off the night of racing.

Ryan Preece got redemption on Tuesday night in Round 2 of the tour type Modified competition. Driving a brand new Chassis Dynamics Modified built by Mike Paquette that was powered by a Mike Petit Racing Engine, Preece cruised to a win after taking the lead from Tommy Catalano on lap 13. Earlier in the evening Preece had garnered the pole but because of a re-draw, started eighth on the 22 car starting field.

One caution with two wrecks, slowed the event. The yellow waved for Jeffrey Gallup who hit the wall in turn two. On the ensuing restart Anthony Nocella spun in turn two which triggered a pig pile which ended up with Andy Jankowiac sitting on top of Patrick Emerling. Following the restart it was all green to the finish on lap 35. Following Preece at the 35 lap finish was Jimmy Blewett, Doug Coby, Chuck Hossfeldt, Tommy Catalano, Amy Catalano and Nocella.

In other Tuesday night action at New Smyrna, Bubba Pollard picked up where he left off on Monday with his second-straight victory in David Rogers’ No. 11 in Super Late Model competition. Other feature winners included Augie Grill in the Florida Modifieds and Jeremy Miller in the pro late model class.

It rained on and off just about all day Wednesday with some doubt as to whether New Smyrna would get to run. Just before darkness set in the sun popped out and racing was on. A not so great forecast kept the crowd down the racing was top shelf. Big Money Matt Hirschman was the spoiler as he made it two in a row as he won the John Blewett III Memorial 76 lapper.

Ryan Preece took the lead on the start from his outside pole starting spot. Doug Coby displaced Preece from the top spot on lap 3. For the first of many times Nikki Carroll spun on lap 25 and brought out the caution.

On the restart, Preece used a bottom shot to retake the lead and dragged Hirschman along for good measure. Coby slipped to third while Tommy Catalano and Chuck Hossfeld broke into the top five. At the 35 lap mark Preece continued to lead with Hirschman, Tommy Catalano, Hossfeld, Jeff Goodale, Dave Sapienza, Blewett, Coby, Emerling and Jankowiak making up the top ten.

Jeff Goodale’s strong run came to an end on lap 51 when a suspension part broke, sending him in hard into the wall between turns three and four. On the restart Preece continued to lead with Hirschman, Sapienza, Tommy Catalano, and Jankowiac rounding out the top five.

Hirschman turned up the wick and the pressure was on to get by Preece. The fruits of his efforts came to bear as Hirschman got the bite he needed following a lap 60 restart. Coming out of turn two Hirschman got his nose under Preece to execute the pass for the lead. In a high speed sprint to the finish, Hirschman led the charge to the checkered flag. Hossfeld finished second with Dave Sapienza, third. Doug Coby and Jimmy Zacharias rounded out the top five. Amy Catalano, Patrick Emerling, Dillon Steuer, Ryan Preece and Jeremy Gerstner rounded out the top ten. The tour type modified #2 of Doug Coby was disqualified from the “John Blewett III Memorial” race. Officials made the determination that the crew made an unapproved tire change. Coby was scored at the end of the lead pack.

In the 35-lap super late model feature, Brad May secured his first victory of the week after previously finishing second three times. Other winners on Wednesday included Sammy Smith in the pro late model division and Wayne Parker in the Florida Modified class.

A final tribute was bestowed upon the late George Summers posthumously as he was inducted into NASCAR’s Living Legends of Auto Racing Hall of Fame on Wednesday night. Peggy Summers accepted the award surrounded by her family. A tip of the hat to Dick Berggren who did an outstanding job of highlighting George’s career.

Up until Thursday Timmy Solomito and his Flamingo Racing entry had been less than impressive in tour type Modified action at New Smyrna. Solomito had started sixth and by lap 9 of the 35 lap-20 car feature, passed Doug Coby for the lead. Solomito was well on his way to recording his first win in the series when he got snakebit again. Following a restart on lap28 Solomito and Tommy Catalano made contact on the backstretch. While the two were struggling to regain control Matt Hirschman seized the moment with a bold move and shot into the lead. Hirschman went on to record the win, making it two in a row. Solomito recovered and finished second. Catalano also recovered but was passed by Chuck Hossfeld and Bobby Measmer, placing him fifth.

Other winners on Thursday night were Bubba Pollard on the Super Late Models, Jamie Skinner in the Pro Late Models and Jerry Symons in the Florida Modifieds.

Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano won the Daytona 500 qualifying races (Duels) in a pair of Ford sweeps that gave the new Mustang positioned for a strong showing in “The Great American Race.”. Harvick won the first of the 150-mile qualifying races Thursday night that set the field for NASCAR’s showcase event. Logano used a last-lap pass for the lead in the second one.

Ryan Preece ran in the first 150 and after starting 15th finished 10th.

The Friday night Richie Evans 100 closed out the tour type segment of the World Series at New Smyrna. Matt Hirschman won the final battle but it was consistent Chuck Hossfeld who won the war (Series Championship). Hirschman started sixth. Doug Coby took the lead at the start with Tommy Catalano in tow. By lap 32 Hirschman had advanced to the runner-up spot. Going down the backstretch on lap 41Hirschman put Coby away as they entered turn three. From then on Hirschman kept the field at bay as he cruised to victory. A competition caution for fuel and tires didn’t make any difference as Hirschman continued unchallenged.

At the finish it was Hirschman followed by Jimmy Blewett, Anthony Nocella, Tommy Catalano, Patrick Emerling, Dave Sapienza, Hossfeld, Calvin Carroll, Coby and Jim Zacharias.

The NASCAR trucks ran at the Daytona International Speedway on Friday night. It was a high speed demolition derby to say the least. Of the 32 trucks that started only nine were running at the end. Austin Hill was the winner. Eleven cautions slowed the event as 55 of the 111 laps were under caution.

Saturday at Daytona saw the Xfinity cars in the spotlight for a 300 mile event. Michael Annett won the Xfinity opener at Daytona, inheriting the lead on Lap 75 and never looking back. Teammate Justin Allgaier finished second, followed by the No. 19 of Brandon Jones.

Hudson New Hampshire driver Derek Griffith drove to a dominant victory in the 100-lap Orange Blossom 100 for super late models Saturday during the final night of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway.

Griffith took the lead for the final time on lap 77 from Jett Noland and pulled away in the closing laps, easily besting runner-up Bubba Pollard for his first checkered flag during the World Series. Pollard settled for second in David Rogers No. 11, which was enough to give Pollard the overall super late model title during the World Series. Pollard earned three victories earlier in the week, which helped catapult him to a comfortable lead entering Saturday’s finale.

Noland finished the Orange Blossom 100 third after leading the most laps. Tate Fogleman and reigning USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series champion Logan Seavey completed the top-five.

George Gorham won the sportsman feature, Wayne Parker won the Florida Modified main, Cody Haskins earned another pro truck triumph and Michael Trocki claimed the super stock checkers.

Denny Hamlin came to the Daytona 500 determined to honor his late car owner with a victory. He delivered in a storybook tribute for Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin won NASCAR’s biggest race for the second time in four years. Hamlin and Busch alternated as the leaders during the handful of late restarts, and the final rush to the checkered flag was a push to hold off Ford driver and reigning NASCAR champion Joey Logano. The Ford camp went 1-2-3 in both of Thursday’s qualifying races and was favored to win the Daytona 500. Logano, who started his career at JGR, settled for fourth.

Rookie Ryan Preece, was best in class with an eighth-place finish. Going into the final restart Preece was in fifth spot but got shuffled by a couple of veterans. Needless to say, he did good in his first attempt at the cup level at Daytona.

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