Just miles from the World Center of Racing is the rough and tumble half-mile short track of New Smyrna Speedway. The same New Smyrna Speedway where Super Late Models legends such as Dick Trickle and Junior Hanley waged war for years during Florida Speedweeks. It’s also where drivers and crews ring in the New Year with the Red Eye 100. It also kicked off the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series battle for the National Championship.
The 2016 edition started off with a bang as Pro and Super Late Model teams from around the Southeast to put on a great show for a massive crowd of enthusiastic race fans. While most of the day was cloudy, overcast, and just a bit chilly compared to the normal Florida weather seen for most of the winter, the evening heated up with plenty of on track action.
The Red Eye 100 was another story of compelling Super Late Model racing. At the start Kaz Grala passed Jeff Scofield to take the reins and would not let up until lap 69.
Cole Anderson was the hit of this New Year’s bash. He started fourth and went toe-to-toe with NASCAR K&N East driver Grala to take the lead. Anderson then held of Super Late Modely “Slayer” Bubba Pollard for a large portion of race before running away with the rest of the show.
Anderson bested a field of more than 20 Super Late Models. Pollard and Grala could only watch at Anderson celebrated the Redeye 100 triumph.
“It’s a good way to start the season off. I would have liked to make the No.97 work for it, but it just took too long getting around the three (Kaz Grala), said Pollard. “Ain’t nothing but respect I guess; it’s just that he’s (Grala) fighting for his life because he has to perform; I don’t have to perform and he has to do all he can to finish second.”
When asked what it took to finish third, Grala said it must have been the high air pressure in his tires on late runs.
“It took a little less air pressure for us. We had a really solid run there, leading fifty or sixty laps there at the start,” admitted Grala. “We had an issue all day in practice; for some reason on long runs our tire pressures would get up too high and get too slippery out there and unfortunately that’s what happened in the race for us too. All in all, it was still really a respectable race for us and a good way to start 2016.”
Anderson, who is looking into running the Southern Super Series this season, knew once he started to catch Pollard and Grala that he would have a chance to win the race.
“It feels pretty good to start 2016 off right with ACR, so it’s going to be a good one,” said Anderson.
When asked what it took to win the race, Anderson spoke like a true champion, “Being patient. I just had to think that there was an eggshell underneath the gas pedal and manage the tires. That was a big part; a lot of people were falling off and I was just trying to be there until the end.”
And in the end, Cole Anderson is the first Super Late Model winner of 2016.
Super Late Models
Red Eye 100
|10||8||David Garbo Jr|
|DNS||5k||Daniel Keene Jr|
Story By: Allick Jorgensen, Correspondent, Speed51.com - Twitter: @ajorgensen24
Photo Credit: Speed51.com / Melissa Strahley photo