One year ago, Harrison Burton captured the biggest win of his career to date in a 100-lap Pro Late Model race at New Smyrna Speedway (FL). In his continuous climb up the ranks, the teenage phenom became a first time Super Late Model winner in Friday’s opening night 35-lap feature at the 49th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
“It means the world to me,” Burton said on the FansChoice.TV powered by Speed51.com broadcast. “I can’t thank the guys at the shop enough. They work hard all the time.”
Gus Dean and Paul Shafer Jr. ended up on the front row after a 10 car invert with Shafer getting the initial jump on what turned out to be multiple occasions in front of the strong turnout of 35 cars. Things would slow immediately a couple times with the second caution resulting in two multi-car pileups at once. Among the damaged were top competitors Garrett Jones, Anthony Sergi, Scott Heckert, Daniel Keene Jr., and David Rogers.
For Rogers, a New Smyrna stalwart and champion, the nine day marathon started off on a low note with a poor qualifying run and became worse right away.
“Just a lot of cars down there, it’s the first night, the track is cold, and slick,” Rogers said. “You’ve got a lot of guys racing with you that don’t know you and you don’t know them so there will be a lot of rough racing to start with, but I think it will get better as time goes on. We’re going to have to go to work and get better too.”
Up front, it was a banner night for the next generation in racing as drivers not even old enough to vote battled hard for the top spot on the podium. As the race entered the second half, Burton began to patiently hound Shafer before beginning to bang doors to the inside for the top spot with 10 laps to go.
“I had so much fun racing (Shafer),” said the son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran turned announcer Jeff Burton. “I can’t thank the competitors enough for racing me clean.”
Shafer, who was competing at the half-mile for the first time, was ecstatic with the runner-up finish and enjoyed the tough battle with Burton.
“For a few laps there I thought I could hold him down for a little bit,” the Portage, Indiana youngster explained. “I pinched him on a few lapped cars, but I gave him all I had. He just had a little bit better car and outdrove me, just by a little bit.”
Teenagers Spencer Davis, Tyler Dippel, and Austin Nason followed the front two across the stripe. The Davis car was later disqualified for being too light in post-race technical inspection.
In the first of the battles leading up to next Saturday’s Second Annual Bruce Gowland Memorial Super Late Model 100, uncharacteristically missing from the front of the field were past champions Steve Wallace and Ryan Moore who were only able to accomplish finishes of ninth and 11th, respectively. Additionally, multi-time winner Stephen Nasse started at the rear after a practice crash and pulled behind the wall early.
A few started off on the right foot while many will have a big hole to dig out of as the Super Late Models return for another 35 lapper on Saturday night before taking two days off.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Correspondent – Twitter: @Aaron_Creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Super Late Model World Series Official Results
New Smyrna Speedway (FL) – February 13, 2015
|2||7||Paul Shafer, Jr.||35|
|19||8||Dave Garbo, Jr.||35|
|30||5K||Daniel Keene, Jr.||1|