Week number two of the NASCAR Whelen All American Racing Series at New Smyrna Speedway produced some great racing with a nice crowd enjoying both the top-notch action and some fantastic weather to go along with it.
For the second week in a row, 19 Sportsman cars signed in to do battle on the high banks including most of the ones that had been damaged in last week’s big wreck that claimed over half the field.
It looked like there might be a repeat of opening night though as the cars of Sandy Lee, Timmy Todd, Jr., Richard Fiore, Jr. and Justin Starr got tangled up in turn two on the opening lap to negate the first start of the event. Only Todd was able to continue as the second attempt at a start was much better with outside pole sitter Austin Howell grabbing the early advantage. George Gorham, Jr. moved by Garrett Hill for second on lap five as Hill’s mount began to drop back, apparently down a cylinder.
As the race continued under green, Gorham reeled in Howell and finally passed him for the top spot on lap 20 only to see the caution come out one lap later as Richard Goodrich spun in turn two. Howell got the jump on the restart and re-claimed the lead, then held off Gorham for the apparent victory. However, Howell’s tires were found to be too soft in post-race tech and the win was awarded to Gorham. The victory was a sweet one for the Lakeland driver after having thrashed all week on his machine after it was badly damaged in the big lap two wreck the week before.
Daniel Conlin, Jr. made a late charge but had to settle for second in front of Patrick Thomas, Junior Beckner and John Emerson. Rounding out the top ten were Todd, Ron Gustafson, Mike Pletka, Goodrich and Jon Compagnone who was driving the car that had won the previous week with Michael Seay behind the wheel out of Sheppard Racing Enterprises in Deland. Completing the finishers were D. J. Farr, Donny Williams, Mike Dahm, Hill, R. J. Glaser, Fiore, Star and Lee. Heat wins went to Gorham and Thomas.
Ray Black, Jr. of Palm Coast put his Team Scuba Special out front on the second lap and led the rest of the way to claim his first Pro Late Model win here. Black, who had the week off from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series where he drives for owner Bobby Dotter (and finished fifth in the season-opening race at Daytona), ran unchallenged as the entire 25-lap distance was run under green.
Opening week winner Rich Clouser worked his way up from his scratch starting spot to take second followed by Anthony Cataldi, Blake Cejner and Colby Clements. Rounding out the finishers were Zach Jarrell, Noah Cornman, Blaise Hetznecker and Bob Greene.
The Modified 25-lapper saw some great action with young Matthew Green setting the pace before his teammate and mentor Alan Bruns (who had won the heat race earlier) stormed by on lap four bringing Jerry Symons with him. As the field exited turn two on the fifth lap, Symons just got into Bruns enough to send him spinning backwards into the back stretch pit entrance barrier. Bruns was able to drive his car away and actually tried to continued despite some very severe damage but eventually had to drop from competition. Symons was sent to the rear of the restart line-up for his involvement but that only seemed to make “The Hammer” even more determined.
Matt Wheeler inherited the lead at this point and did a fantastic job holding the field at bay for ten laps before Symons turned up the wick and went to the front on lap 16. From there it was “all she wrote” as Symons ran off and hid in the America Auto, Tires & Service/Kelly Roofing Special. Wheeler’s great run came to a halt on lap 18 as he and Ricky Moxley touched coming off turn four sending Wheeler spinning to bring out the second, and final, yellow flag.
Symons easily pulled away to take the victory over arch-rival Tank Tucker with Moxley third over Green and Wheeler. Matt Jarrett took sixth followed by Jim Higginbotham, Bruce Packer, Mike Dahm, Bruns and George Dahm.
After winning the Bomber heat race, James Skinner of Melbourne sped past early leader Shane Sutorus and went on to win his first career feature at New Smyrna in his Chevy Monte Carlo sponsored by Clean Cut Tree Service. Charlie King made several runs at Skinner but his Chevy Cavalier just did not have enough “oomph” and he settled for the runner-up spot while Sutorus held on for third in his Lincoln over Megan Matheny and Aaron Overman.
The evening of racing was dedicated to Darlene Corso-Patsos, wife of long-time New Smyrna Speedway sponsor Skip Patsos of Skips Boots & Western Wear who lost her battle with cancer on Friday.
Next Saturday night, the Super Late Models will make their first regular season appearance going for 50 laps. Also on the card will be the Super Stocks, Mini Stocks and Bombers with racing starting at 7:30 pm.
– New Smyrna Speedway Release
Photo Credit: Jim Jones