The Kyle Busch Motorsports team was definitely on a mission Saturday night after patriarch Kyle Busch was injured in a NASCAR Xfinity Series wreck at Daytona International Speedway earlier in the day. Christopher Bell, who continues his transition from the open wheel ranks to a Super Late Model in 2015, was up for the challenge at New Smyrna Speedway (FL).
Bell and two-time 49th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing winner Harrison Burton put on an intense show for the top spot before Bell maneuvered by on lap 80 in the Second Annual Bruce Gowland Memorial 100. Various yellow flags late in the going did not make it easy for Bell as he had to continuously fend off Burton and other young competitors on each restart.
“That was nerve-wracking for sure,” Bell said on the FansChoice.TV powered by Speed51.com broadcast. “I’m not the best on restarts yet. Kind of got a lot to learn there yet, how to throttle it and shift without spinning the tires. Just had to work on that and feel like I got a little better throughout the race.”
Burton, a winner on opening night as well as the previous night, inherited the lead on lap 3 when Drew Brannon was black flagged for a loose exhaust hanging off his machine. Following the caution that came out as a result, Bell began to steadily make his way past front runners before eventually approaching Burton.
“Harrison was the guy to beat when we got down here and we knew it was going to be tough when we decided to come for the last three races,” Bell said. “I’m super proud of these KBM Toyota guys. Nobody works harder than them and it shows.”
Despite ending up short of potentially the biggest victory of his career, Burton was pleased with the way he was raced for the top spot on this particular night.
“Second place is really good, for all the great competitors out here like Christopher Bell,” Burton commended. “He was so fast and it was so hard to run with him. Once he got by it was kind of smooth sailing for him unfortunately for us.”
Despite some ups and downs throughout the nine days, it was a big boost for the teenager that plans to run numerous Super Late Model shows in the southeast in 2015.
“The guys worked so hard all week and I just can’t thank them enough,” Burton said. “They have never let me down ever in my life and I have been with some of them since I was four years old so they are pretty reliable. A heck of a week and a lot of fun.”
Spencer Davis finished third, but the championship came down to the wire behind him as the relatively unheard of Zane Smith made a statement with one feature win and a fourth-place finish only a position ahead of closest contender Garrett Jones. Smith was humbled and thankful to his sponsors and especially car owner and mentor Gary Crooks.
“We didn’t come here expecting to win, especially not even winning a championship,” Smith said following a successful week’s worth of racing. “We were eighth in the points and then a lot of guys wrecked and we stayed out of the wrecks. Everyone who possibly could get me here, thank you.”
Smith, who only had a handful of starts in a Super Late Model heading into the World Series, will be competing in Pro All Stars Series and CARS Super Late Model Tour races throughout the 2015 season for the team.
The 2015 edition of the Bruce Gowland Memorial 100 certainly featured some hard but clean racing toward the front of the field with the winner giving his team owner a pick me up after a rather rough day.
An on-demand video broadcast of Saturday night’s action can be viewed on FansChoice.TV powered by Speed51.com. The on-demand video will be available at 8 a.m. ET on Sunday and can be viewed on FansChoice.TV. A full lap-by-lap replay with photos and results can be seen anytime by visiting NASCAR Home Tracks Race Central Live powered by Speed51.com by clicking here.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Correspondent – Twitter: @Aaron_Creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
2nd Annual Bruce Gowland Memorial Super Late Model 100 Results
|7||7S||Paul Shafer, Jr.||100|
|25||5K||Daniel Keene, Jr.||36|