Racing action was hot and heavy Saturday night at New Smyrna Speedway for week number three of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series as the Super Late Models made their first appearance of the 2015 regular racing season running a 50-lap event.
Eleven SLM were in the pits but hot laps were unkind to both Doug Elliott, who had engine issues, and Tim Sozio, who broke a clutch, forcing both to head home before time trials. Quickest of the remaining cars to take time was Brad May who turned a lap of 17.333 seconds in his Bobby Sears Racing special. Wayne Anderson was second fastest in his HTI-sponsored car at 17.453.
The top two from qualifying swapped front row spots for the start and May found the outer groove to his liking initially and sped out to a good advantage as Anthony Sergi began to pressure Anderson for second, finally moving by on lap four. May was looking very strong though and maintained the top spot ahead of Sergi and Anderson while David Rogers moved into fourth on
By the half-way mark, May’s car began to bottom out severely in the corners and he began to back up toward the field. Sergi got around for the lead on lap 33 bringing Anderson with him. Rogers followed shortly thereafter into third. That’s the way it would finish as the full 50-lap distance was run under green flag conditions.
Sergi claimed the win, his first in Super Late Models, although he did take the checker first once before but was DQ’d in tech. This time he made it through the tech shed with flying colors and the young University of Central Florida mechanical engineering student had his first SLM trophy and the $1200 prize to go with it.
Making a rare start, Anderson claimed second with Rogers third while a disappointed May finished fourth. Fifth went to Jeff Scofield ahead of Michael Lira, Tyler Scofield, Brad Bowman and Noah Cornman. Two heat races were needed to set the field for the 25-lap Super Stock headliner. Garrett Hill ran off with heat one while Butch Herdegen topped the second preliminary run. The second heat race was not kind to a pair of new drivers as Ronnie Hadden spun and tagged the wall ending his night, then Eric Kottwitz blew an engine later in the heat.
Week one winner Justin Reynolds had the pole for the feature and most fans thought he’d simply run and hide from the field but that would not be the case as defending Super Stock champion Shannon Kelly had his car running to perfection and made a turn four pass on the opening lap to secure the early lead. Herdegen tapped Bobby Holley into a spin in turn two on lap four while fighting for third place to bring out the caution with Holley being returned to the show spot and Herdegen restarting from the tail of the field.
Kelly again got the advantage on the restart and looked to have the field covered until Holley lost a wheel in turn two to bring out the yellow flag on lap 20. On the restart, Kelly “got into turn two just a bit too hard,” according to the driver, slid up into Reynolds, lost control and spun out. Kelly was sent to the back of the restart line-up and it was now Reynolds up front flanked by heat winner Hill.
As the field came to the green flag, Hill got a huge jump – too big of a jump – and appeared to take over the lead only to see flagman Ralph Miller toss out the black flag for jumping the start. Hill crossed the line in front of the field but was subsequently placed at the tail end of the cars still running as Reynolds notched the victory in his Hot Colors Powder Coating Chevy and is now two for two for the early season.
2014 Super Stock Rookie of the Year Preston Hunt scored his best career finish by taking second while Jeff Colburn was third. Fourth went to the winner’s younger brother Matt Reynolds while Kelly rebounded to take fifth. Herdegen was sixth trailed by Gino Tuminello, Holley, J. T. Tippins and Hill who was scored in tenth as the last car on the lead lap ahead of Mike Dahm and Dale Howard.
Ted Vulpius drove his Guy Callon special to both the heat and feature win in the Mini Stocks. Vulpius led all the way in the feature as the entire event was run under green. Brad Blanton finished a distant second ahead of David Russell and Mark Broat. Jamie Dixson did not start the feature.
James Skinner, the winner from the previous week, led the opening pair of laps in the Bomber feature before losing the point to William Hindman. Skinner’s car began to suffer some problems and he dropped from the running as Hindman drove his E&H Car Crushing Chevy Monte Carlo to victory over Shane Sutorus, heat winner Zachary Curtis, Aaron Overman, Warren Howie, Charlie King, Skinner and Jim Erb.
Next week, the Pro Late Models are back in action along with the Sportsman cars, Modifieds and the Bombers plus there will be a big Easter egg hunt for the kids sponsored by Central Florida Racing Ministries.
– New Smyrna Speedway Release
Photo Credit: Jim Jones