Beautiful but warm weather greeted race fans Saturday night at New Smyrna Speedway and the NASCAR Whelan All-American Racing Series action was hot as well with the Pro Late Model feature seeing yet another new winner in victory lane.
Rich Clouser had the pole position for the 25-lap Pro Late Model feature and bolted to a quick lead as outside pole sitter Anthony Cataldi’s car faltered. That bunched up the field just after the green flew. Ricky Anderson moved up to second place while Cataldi got his car up to speed and tried to make an inside move on Anderson between turns one and two. The pair made contact sending Anderson into a spin with Will Carroll losing control trying to avoid the mishap, ending up hard in the wall. Ricardo Flores had nowhere to go and he hit Anderson’s stalled machine while Michael Lira also got involved damaging the front of his car too. After the scene was cleared, only Carroll’s car needed a tow to the pits as the other cars all pitted for repairs and continued.
Clouser set sail on the restart and was never seriously challenged the rest of the way despite a caution flag with two laps to go when Chris Brannon’s car stalled on the front stretch. That gave second-running Cody Blair as shot at Clouser but the Deland driver was not to be denied as he put his Sanford Auto Dealer’s Exchange machine into victory lane for the first time this year becoming the eighth different winner in eight Pro Late Model outings this season.
Blair trailed in second just ahead of Cataldi who worked his way back through the field after being forced to restart in the rear after the early incident. Anderson drove his damaged mount to fourth place while Zack Jarrell ran steady to nab fifth spot. Completing the finishers were Flores, Larry Blount, Brannon, Lira and Carroll.
Earl “Junior” Beckner led all the way to win his third Sportsman race of the season in a race that saw just one yellow flag at the end of lap one for a wild front stretch spin by Steve Barnes. Barnes kept his car off the walls and continued. By the time heat race winner Derrick Wood could make his way to second place, Beckner was long gone as Wood had to settle for the runner-up spot over Donny Williams. Greg Talley looked great in his first start of the season by finishing a close fourth while fifth went to Justin Starr. Barnes came back to take sixth followed by Mike Pletka, D. J. Farr, John Buzinec and Daniel Conlin, Jr.
A pair of heats were needed to set the feature field for the Super Stocks with those wins going to Mike Amato and Garrett Hill. Bobby Holley would lead the opening two circuits of the 25-lap main event before Shannon Kelly took over. Kelly’s lead would be short-lived as Justin Reynolds breezed by him on lap seven to lead the remaining distance.
Becca Samsoe was running fourth but spun out in turn two on lap 11 to bring out the first caution flag of the event with a second yellow being needed for a spinning Mike Dahm on lap 17, also in turn two. Neither slow-down affected Reynolds as he dominated the last two-thirds of the race and kept his win streak perfect for the year as he’s won all four times he’s been entered in competition.
Hill finished a distant second ahead of Kelly, Amato and Samsoe who rebounded nicely from her earlier miscue. Gino Tumminello took sixth with Preston Hunt coming back from a bad heat race crash to take seventh. Mike Dahm was eighth after his earlier spin then ended up winning the nightly 50/50 raffle, sooverall it was a good night for the bearded fellow from Enterprise. J. T. Tippins, Robert Pence, Holley, George Dahm and Justin Spears rounded out the finishers.
The Mini Stock feature was one of those crazy races that was in doubt all the way to the end. Jeff White got the action going on the initial start when he hit the turn one wall while Brad Blanton went for a spin at the same time. White pitted for repairs and continued. Pat Wells got to the lead early in this one and that seemed to be the best place to be as things behind him were somewhat “testy” among several drivers. A second yellow flag was needed for a spinning Daniel Brown on lap eight but Wells maintained his advantage despite some good pressure from last week’s winner Tyler Simpson.
White spun again to bring out the caution with five laps to go and Simpson came down pit road for a quick check of his car, giving up his second place spot. David Russell lined up second for the restart but his machine slowed suddenly and he slowly made his way to the pits just as Mark Broat spun in turn four and clobbered the inside wall negating his best run of the year and again damaging his new car. Simpson just could not get his car back up to speed and he headed for the pits, done for the night.
Wells held on to take the victory, his second of the year with Blanton coming back for second, his best finish of the season. Third went to Reid Christiensen who finally had his engine sounding like all four cylinders were working in tandem. White took fourth with Michael Seay fifth in a wild-looking AMC Gremiln-bodied car. Simpson, Broat, Russell and Brown were credited with sixth through ninth. Russell won the heat race. Jimmy Barron out-ran Aaron Overman to claim the Strictly Stock win. This Thursday night, it’s the annual Clyde Hart Memorial race for the Brighthouse Challenge Series Super Late Models plus 50 laps for the Open Modified division and more. Racing action starts at 7:30 pm.
Track PR – Speed51.com Photo