The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

February 19, 2016

  Fifty five years ago in 1961, Glenn "Fireball" Roberts and Joe Weatherly were the winners in the wreck marred 100-mile qualifiers for the Daytona 500 at the Daytona Int. Speedway. Lee Petty received life threatening injuries which all but ended his racing career when he crashed out of the track with Johnny Beauchamp. Marvin Paunch, in a Smokey Yunick built 1960 Pontiac, won the 500 after Roberts lost an engine with 13 laps to go. The spectator count was 51,287 and the winner’s share of the race purse was $21,050.

  Fifty years ago in 1966, Paul Goldsmith and Earl Balmer were the 100 lap qualifying race winners at Daytona. New England’s only entry, Rene Charland, blew an engine and finished 33rd in the second 100.In the 500, Richard Petty became the races' first repeat winner. The 200 lap-500 mile event was halted with two laps to go because of rain. For his efforts, Petty received $28,150 and there were 90,000 spectators on hand.

  Forty five years ago in 1971, Pete Hamilton, the defending Daytona 500 winner, took the lead on the last lap from AJ Foyt in the first 125 mile qualifier and went on to record the win. David Pearson won the second 125.Richard Petty secured his third Daytona 500 win after AJ Foyt ran out of gas with 39 laps to go. Buddy Baker, in the Petty Team car that had been driven to victory the previous year by Pete Hamilton, finished second. Hamilton, driving for Cotton Owens, led some of the early going but lost an engine and finished a distant 28th.Northern modified fans held their breath when Maynard Troyer in a Ford owned by Dave Nagle blew an engine and flipped 16 times. Troyer survived the wreck but was hospitalized with serious injuries.

  Forty years ago in 1976, the Modifieds ran on the road course at Daytona. Despite being out of their element they put on a fairly good show. Taking the 200 mile win was Bobby Allison. Merv Treichler finished second and was followed by Gene Felton, John Bryant, Buzzy Reutiman, Philip Smith, Fred Harbach, Geoff Bodine and George Wagner. Dave Marcus and Darrell Waltrip were the winners of the 125 mile qualifiers. Richard Petty and David Pearson battled wheel to wheel until they wrecked together on the final lap, just before the start finish line. Pearson managed to keep his car running and drove thru the infield to take the checkered flag. The winners share was upped to $46,800. There were 125,000 spectators were on hand.

 Thirty five years ago in 1981, after winning on Friday and Sunday on the first weekend at New Smyrna, Richie Evans continued his winning streak to six in a row. Ron Bouchard and George Kent were the only two who could run with Evans. Bouchard turned the tables on Saturday night as he garnered a hard fought win with Evans, second. Brett Bodine became a surprise winner as Evans blew two engines on the final night. Bouchard ended up second with Maynard Troyer and John Blewett Jr following.

  Thirty years ago in 1986, Jamie Tomaino started the week on Monday night at New Smyrna with a win over Mike Casterline, Randy Sweet and George Kent. Tuesday thru Friday night at New Smyrna belonged to Reggie Ruggiero who ran up a four race win streak to win the overall championship. Mike Casterline was the spoiler as he took the victory on the final night. At Daytona, Bobby Allison and Dale Earnhardt were the winners of the 125 mile qualifiers. Dale Earnhardt appeared headed for his first Daytona 500 win when he ran out of gas with three laps to go. Geoff Bodine, running second, inherited the lead and went on to record the win which was worth $192.715.Terry Labonte finished second while Earnhardt faded to 14th.Ronnie Bouchard finished sixth, Doug Hevron finished 15th and Greg Sacks finished 35th after losing a clutch. Because of an in car camera, fans and race officials got a first hand look at how far ones body stretches on impact. Richard Petty hit the backstretch on lap 63.Cameras recorded the fact that Petty’s body stretched to the point where his head almost hit the right side roll bars.

 Twenty five years ago in 1991, Tim Arre went pole to pole in Monday night action at New Smyrna. Rick Fuller in the Mario Fiore No.44 finished second and was followed by Mike Ewanitsko and Tom Baldwin. Rookie David Green took the Goody’s 300 pole at Daytona. Tuesday night at New Smyrna, Jeff Fuller beat out Arre and Baldwin for the win. Rick Fuller banged out two in a row on Thursday and Friday at New Smyrna. The final two nights at New Smyrna belonged to Mike Ewanitsko including a pole to pole run in the series ending Richie Evans Memorial 100.Ewanitsko was awarded the series championship for his efforts. At Daytona, Dale Earnhardt and Davey Allison won the 125 mile Daytona 500 qualifiers. Earnhardt won the Goodys 300 and was leading the Daytona 500 when he spun with five laps to go. Ernie Irvan was the 500 winner.

  Twenty years ago in 1996, Bruce Dell in the Ben Dodge No.36 made it two in a row at New Smyrna as he won on Monday night. Ricky Fuller finished second with Jamie Tomaino and Ted Christopher in tow. Steve Park in the Joe Brady entry went pole to pole to win the Tuesday night modified event at New Smyrna. Tom Baldwin finished second and was followed by Rick Fuller and Mike Ewanitsko. Jamie Tomaino broke into the win column on Wednesday at New Smyrna. Bruce Del finished second and was followed by Baldwin, Park and Christopher. At Daytona on Thursday, Dale Earnhardt and Ernie Irvan won the 125-mile qualifiers. Back home in the northeast, Tom Curley in behalf of the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) filed suit against Mike Liberty, owner of the Oxford Plains Speedway claiming fraud and breach of contract. Thursday night at New Smyrna saw Ricky Fuller take the win. Tom Baldwin moved into second spot after Bruce Del, who was running second on the final lap, tangled with Ted Christopher and went into the wall. Tomaino came home in third. On Friday, Park again ruled the roost with Tomaino, Fuller, Baldwin and Christopher following. In the Goodys 300 at Daytona on Saturday, Steve Grissom used the draft from the lapped car of Jim Spencer to pass Dale Jarrett with five laps to go. Jarrett finished second with Mark Martin, third. The final night at New Smyrna saw Rick Fuller win the Richie Evans Memorial 100.Baldwin finished second with Ewanitsko and Park following. The final tally for the week saw Baldwin take the series championship despite not taking a win. Steve Park and Ricky Fuller each recorded three wins, Bruce Del, two and Jamie Tomaino, one. In the Daytona 500, Dale Jarrett took the lead from Dale Earnhardt with thirteen laps to go and went on to score the win. Earnhardt finished second and was followed by Ken Schrader, Mark Martin and Jeff Burton.

  Fifteen years ago, in 2001, Ted Christopher picked up his third win in the New Smyrna World Series on Thursday night. George Kent finished second with Junior Hanley, third. In 125 action at Daytona, Sterling Marlin passed Dale Earnhardt Sr. on the last lap to win the first one. Jerry Nadeau, who started dead last, also passed Earnhardt and finished second. Mike Skinner won out over Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a photo finish of the second 125.Jeff Burton finished third. Jamie Tomaino out raced Charlie Pasteryak and Rob Summers to win the Richie Evans 100 on Friday night at New Smyrna. At Daytona on Saturday, Randy LaJoie took the win over Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Green. Jamie Tomaino went pole to pole to win the New Smyrna World Series final on Saturday night. Junior Handley finished second with George Kent, third. Ted Christopher finished ninth and sewed up the series title. Speedweeks came to a close on Sunday with the running of the Daytona 500.Little did anyone know, this day would be one of the most devastating in NASCAR history. It all came down to the final corner of the final lap. Michael Waltrip, driving his first race for Dale Earnhardt Inc. was leading the pack with Dale Jr. and Sr. in tow. As Waltrip streaked home for the win, Sterling Marlin took the air off Earnhardt Sr’s spoiler, causing the former champion to break loose and collide with the concrete wall and the car of Ken Schrader. Earnhardt Sr., 49, died instantly of head injuries from the impact.

  Ten years ago in 2006, World Series Modified Racing action at the New Smyrna Speedway continued on Monday, February 13. Once the sun went down it was like being at home in New England as the temperatures dipped below freezing in central Florida. Donny Lia and Chuck Hossfeld started on the front row and ran nose to tail the entire distance of the event. A few minor incidents slowed the event. Kevin Goodale and Robbie Summers spun on lap 7 between turn 3 and 4 in the early going. During lap 10 Chris Pasteryak spun bringing out a caution and on lap 11 Ryan Preece and Buck Catalano bringing out the caution after a tangle in turn three. Following Lia and Hossfeld at the finish were Eric Beers, John Blewett III, Andy Seuss, Jimmy Blewett, Ted Christopher and Mike Andrews Jr. who had taken over the driving duties for injured Mike Ewanitsko. Earl Paules was the SK Modified winner. Mike Holdridge finished second. Jimmy Blewett dropped out with mechanical problems on lap 10.       
  The cold weather coupled with the full moon on Tuesday made for an exciting night of spins, wrecks and strange happenings. Donny Lia made it two in a row and was the only driver to escape unscratched. There were two incidents before one lap was completed. The first incident saw Jimmy Blewett, Ted Christopher, Kevin Goodale, Danny Sammons and a host of others spun in turn one. The race all got underway again and the cars restarted. As the cars went into turn 1 during the start of lap two, Jimmy Blewett, Jeff Preece, Zach Sylvester, Dave Koroleski, John Blewett III, Eric Beers and Kevin Goodale were involved in another incident in turn one. Beers, the Blewetts and Koroleski were towed off the track. As the cars restarted on lap two Hossfeld and Christopher headed for pit road, never to return. Just when it looked like the race would go non-stop Eric Beers came to a stop in turn 1 on lap 10 with smoke coming from the right front of his car. A tow truck pushed him in, out for the night. Lia continued to lead when, with two laps to go, three cars spun on the front stretch as they were contending for the 6th spot: Dave Sapienza, Earl Paules & Jon McKennedy came to a grinding halt. All cars were damaged and were done for the night. After a green-white-checkered finish Lia took the win and was followed by Chris Pasteryak, Mike Andrews Jr., Andy Seuss, Tim Arre, Jay Wesley Swartout and Dan Sammons. John Jensen won the SK Modified feature over Jimmy Blewett and Billy Anderson.
  Full Moon Modified Racing continued at New Smyrna on Wednesday night. The central Florida temperatures moderated somewhat making life easier on fans and competitors alike. The Modifieds ran their first of two extra distance events. Eric Beers was the top time trialer and started on the pole. John Blewett III started on the outside pole with Chuck Hossfeld, third. Beers led the charge to the green with Blewett III in hot pursuit. The first caution flew on lap two when Rob McMullen, driving the Joe Brady back-up car, spun on the backstretch. The field no sooner took the green when, on lap 3, Kevin Goodale spun between turns one and two. Green again and then crash! The Blewett brothers tangled between turns three and four. Collected in the melee was Zach Sylvester who ultimately ended up in the front stretch wall. The Blewetts maintained their spots as the caution was thrown for Sylvester, who was done for the night. Beers and Donny Lia led the restart. The field no sooner got up to speed when Jimmy Blewett & Andy Seuss tangled and came close to hitting the front stretch wall. Both cars drove away unscathed and were able to restart the race. Another restart, another tangle. This time it was Dan Sammons, Tim Arre, Chris Pasteryak, Jon McKennedy, Ted Christopher and Don Lia. Lia got the worst of it and had to be double hooked off the track. Beers continued to lead as the green was dropped once again. Rob Summers & Earl Paules tangled in turn 4, bringing out the fifth caution on Lap 6. Mike Andrews Jr., doing a great pinch hitting job for Mike Ewanitsko, moved into the runner-up spot. The field took the green again and actually ran four laps at speed when Ryan Preece spun on backstretch on lap 9. Green again with Beers still leading followed by Andrews, Blewett III, Hossfeld and Rob Summers. Just when it looked like things would smooth out the seventh caution flew on Lap 19 when Jim Storace was engulfed in smoke in turn 2. The final and eighth caution flew on lap 31 when Chris Fleming stopped in turn four. The final 19 laps were run without incident with Beers taking the win over Andrews, John Blewett III and Chuck Hossfeld. Rob Summers rounded out the top five. Tom Farrel won the SK Modified feature. Jimmy Blewett finished second with Kevin Goodale and Mike Holdridge, following. 
  A new face entered victory lane on Thursday night at New Smyrna. Mike Andrews Jr., who took over for the injured Mike Ewanitsko, started on the pole of the 25 lap feature and went on to lead every lap to record his first win in the Sunshine State. The first caution of the night came during the opening moments when Jo Wesley Swartout, Tim Arre, Luke Fleming and Tony Hanbury tangled in turn one. Arre and Fleming had to be towed from the scene. Donny Lia pitted to have officials check for a possible fluid leak. The field restarted with Andrews still on the point. The second caution of the night came on lap 8 when Zach Sylvester slowed on the front stretch. The ensuing restart saw a major pile-up on the front stretch that collected seven cars and blocked the track. The event was red flagged. Among those involved were Chuck Hossfeld, Lia, Arre and Chris Pasteryak. Lia was not able to restart. It proved to be a major setback as he was leading the point standings going into the event. The race restarted single file. By lap 15 Andrews continued to lead with Rob Summers moving into second spot and John Blewett III, third. Jimmy Blewett was running fourth but spun two laps later when he looped it in turn two. Once the field restarted they ran non-stop from there. At the finish it was Andrews taking the win followed by Summers, Blewett III, Andy Seuss and Tony Hanbury. Lia ended up in 19th spot. Eric Beers, who blew the left rear tire in the fourth turn during first lap of time trials, finished 8th and was tied for the point lead going into the Richie Evans 100 last Friday night. His car sustained damage on the right front and he was forced to start the feature in last spot. In another development Ted Christopher, who had been driving the Bear Motorsports No.14 with little or no success, parted ways with car owner Bill Callicio and signed on to drive the Joe Brady back-up Modified for the final two events at New Smyrna. Mike Holdridge held off Jimmy Blewett to win the SK Modified feature. 
  The Richie Evans 100, which was run on Friday night, ended up being a true test of stamina and nerves. In the end it was Jimmy Blewett in victory lane with the Eddie Partridge TS Haulers entry. Ted Christopher, in the Joe Brady back-up mount finished second after making a late race pit stop for fresh tires. Christopher made a determined charge to the front but got only as far as second. Rob Summers ended up being a victim of Christopher’s aggressiveness as he was knocked out of second spot in the closing laps. Summers expressed his displeasure with a post race slam to the rear of Christopher’s car.
  It was rumored that the Bear Motorsports No.14 was headed home but as the field was called to post the former Christopher mount appeared with Billy Anderson behind the wheel and starting scratch. Christopher, who won the Super Late Model feature earlier in the evening, started on the pole with Mike Andrews on the outside. Christopher took the green and led the first three laps. Jimmy Blewett, who started fourth, wasted little time as he passed Kevin Goodale and Andrews for the second spot on lap 3. One lap later, Blewett put the Partridge owned; Brad LaFountaine wrenched No.12 in the lead. The first caution of the night came on lap 8 when Zach Sylvester in the Hills Enterprises No. 79 came to a halt after spinning on the backstretch. Eric Beers, who had high hopes for a good finish was forced to drop out with an ailing engine. On the restart, someone booted the 36 of Andrews and triggered a wreck that collected 13 cars in turn one. Among those collected were Donny Lia and Chuck Hossfeld who both sustained race ending chassis damage. After a long red flag period the field restarted single file with Jimmy Blewett leading followed by Christopher, John Blewett III, Jim Storace and Billy Anderson. John Blewett III’s night came to an end on lap 47 when he stopped in turn 3, bringing out the caution and ultimately went behind the wall due to rear end problems. At the half way mark it was Jimmy Blewett in the lead followed by Christopher, Summers and Jim Storace. With 20 laps to go Christopher’s tires began to fade as he gave way to Summers. A caution on lap 88 for debris gave Christopher the opportunity to pit for fresh rubber and set the stage for an exciting finish. Jimmy Blewett withstood the intense pressure put out by Christopher as he continually gave him the bumper but to no avail as Blewett never wavered as he streaked under the checkered flag for the win. In a last minute move Kevin Goodale moved into third spot while Summers was trying to collect himself after his incident with Christopher. Andy Seuss rounded out the top five. Billy Anderson, Ryan Preece, Jon McKennedy, Mike Andrews Jr. and Jim Storace rounded out the top ten. To cap off the night Jimmy Blewett won the SK Modified feature. 
  The final night of racing, Saturday, saw a slim field of Modifieds as many felt they had had enough plus they were not in contention for the point title. Jimmy Blewett started on the pole and led the charge to the green. John Blewett III and Ted Christopher followed. Blewett III and Christopher, in team cars, were eliminated on lap 5 when a slow car triggered the crash. Both cars had to be towed from the scene and were out for the night. Jimmy Blewett led until the final moments when he was passed by Kevin Goodale who took the closing night win. Blewett finished second and was followed by Eric Beers, Chuck Hossfeld and Andy Suess who captured the Modified division series championship. Mike Holdridge won the SK Modified feature. Jimmy Blewett finished ninth and wrapped up the division title.
  Elliott Sadler and Jeff Gordon won the 160 mile qualifiers which were a total bore to watch. Mark Martin won the truck race and Matt Kenseth, the IROC event. Tony Stewart won the Busch 300 and Jimmy Johnson won the Daytona 500.

  Five years ago in 2011, Racing for the Modifieds and SK Modifieds resumed on Monday night at the New Smyrna Speedway. The car count for the SK Modifieds remained at seven as the Modifieds picked up Burt and Jason Myers along with Kevin Flockhart. Chuck Hossfeld to the lead at the start and led the entire 25 lap distance holding off Ted Christopher for the win. Earl Paules finished third with Burt Myers, fourth. Ron Silk rounded out the top five. Earl Paules was the SK Modified winner and Brian Hoar was the ACT Late Model winner.
  Tuesday night at New Smyrna saw the Modified field swell to 17 while the SKs remained at seven. Joining the field was James Civali, George Brunnhoelzl III and Ryan Preece. Chuck Hossfeldt jumped out to the lead position at the start and despite trading the No.1 spot with Ted Christopher on numerous occasions was able to score the win. Ronnie Silk ended up second with Christopher finishing after a late race tangle. George Brunnhoelzl III finished fourth with Burt Myers, fifth. Ryan Preece was in the field but was disqualified because his team neglected to register the car. The SK Modifieds went 20 laps with Ronnie Silk taking the win.
  Wednesday night at New Smyrna saw the running of the annual John Blewett III Memorial 50 lapper. The 16 Modifieds on hand didn’t disappoint as this event turned out to be the most competitive of the series so far. Among the new faces in the field was Justin Bonsignore who was driving the Hillbilly team car to James Civali. Burt Myers started on the pole of the 50 lapper and quickly jumped out to an early lead with Civali in tow. The first caution of the night came on lap four with liquid on the track, the culprit. Myers led the restart with Civali and Ted Christopher in hot pursuit. Christopher turned the wick up and on lap 12 passed Civali for second. On lap 15 Christopher got the best of Myers as he took the lead. The caution flew on lap 22 as the Eddie Partridge entry of Ronnie Silk caught on fire. Silk returned for the restart which saw Myers retake the lead from Christopher. Christopher fought back as he retook the lead on lap 34. The caution flew on lap 42 when Silk hit the wall in turn four. At just about the same time Christopher gave up the lead as he pitted the Joe Brady #00 with transmission trouble. On the restart Burt Myers led but his quest for glory was short lived as Civali elbowed his way inside to move Bowman Grey Champion up and out of the groove. Myers slipped to fifth. Civali didn’t last on the point as Earl Paules took the lead with Chuck Hossfeld in tow with three laps to go. Meanwhile Christopher returned without losing a lap and was making a determined march to the front. As Paules took the win with Hossfeld second Christopher made a bonsai move on Civali as they exited turn four. Civali spun and collected Bonsignore, his teammate. Christopher escaped as he finished third. Bonsignore, going backward, finished fourth. Jason Myers rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Patrick Emerling, George Brunnhoelzl III, Burt Myers, Jin Zacharias and Civali.
Ronnie Silk won the SK 15 lapper.
  The Modifieds went back to the 25 lap format on Thursday night. Sixteen Modifieds went to post. Pole sitter Ted Christopher jumped out at the drop of the green to take the lead over Chuck Hossfeld and James Civali. Civali created some excitement on lap six when he got Christopher squirrelly after a love tap. Civali took the lead but TC took it back one lap later. The only other action in the event came on lap 22 when Earl Paules, who was running fifth, spun. At the finish it was Christopher taking the win over Civali, Hossfeld, Burt Myers and Paules. Sixth through ninth were Justin Bonsignore, Ron Silk, Jason Myers and Ryan Preece. The SK Modified field continued at six with Ron Silk taking the 15 lap win.
  Friday night saw the running of the annual Richie Evans 100. The Modified field continued to total 14. Patrick Emerling started on the pole with Ted Christopher in the outside pole slot. Emerling took the lead at the start with Ron Silk second and Christopher slipping to third. On lap four Silk slipped by Emerling and Christopher slipped by them both. On lap 10 Silk returned the favor as he retook the top spot only to give it back to Christopher one lap later. Once back into the lead TC was all business. By lap 50 he had a full straight a way lead. The caution flew on lap 60 when James Civali and his teammate Justin Bonsignore spun. Christopher led the restart but Silk had got a second wind and by lap 65 took the lead. Both swapped the lead before Silk settled into the top spot. On lap82 Bonsignore slowed and brought out the caution. Silk led the restart with Christopher blowing the chrome horn. While the two front runners were trying to regain control James Civali, who was running third, took the lead. A slow leak in one of Civali’s tires went undetected following a spin by another competitor on lap 89. On the restart slipped up the track and crashed with Silk. Christopher inherited the lead and following the restart went on to take the win. Earl Paules finished second and was followed by Emerling, Bonsignore and George Brunnhoelzl III. Rounding out the top ten was Ryan Preece, Chuck Hossfeld, Burt Myers, Jason Myers and Silk. Civali finished 11th.
  Earl Paules was the SK Modified winner. The New Smyrna Speedway enjoyed a near capacity crowd for this event.
  With the Richie Evans Memorial in the record books many of the Modified Tour teams called it quits and headed home. For last Saturday nights finale a lean field of nine cars were on hand. Ted Christopher lined up on the pole with Burt Myers on the outside. At the drop of the green of the series ending 25 lapper Christopher jumped out in front with Myers in tow. The caution flew on lap 6 for Patrick Emerling who spun. Christopher led the restart as Chuck Hossfeld dove under Myers to take the second spot. Hossfeld had his No. 22 hooked up as he closed on Christopher’s bumper. Christopher’s handling was off as Hossfeld made a bottom shot under TC on lap 10 to take over the lead. The upstate New Yorker never looked back as he sprinted home the winner on the final night of competition. Burt Myers finished second with Christopher, third. His third place finish earned him enough points to beat out Hossfeld for the series title by 6 points. Earl Paules finished fourth in the feature with Emerling, fifth. Jason Myers finished sixth.
  In action at the Daytona Int Speedway, Kurt Busch felt certain he cemented himself the favorite to win the Daytona 500 after winning Thursday's first 150-mile qualifying race, backing up the previous weekend's victory in the exhibition Budweiser Shootout. Jeff Burton, the winner of the second qualifying race, respectfully disagreed.
  Dick Berggren sent word that Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion Bobby Santos III had a HUGE crash in Daytona on Thursday while practicing for Saturday’s Nationwide Series race. A pitman arm broke as he was coming off turn four and he hammered the inside wall driver’s side. "With the old style cars and seats, it was unsurvivable, but, this is today and he was unhurt" stated Berggren. He added, "He walked out of the garage without a limp even, complaining of a sore ankle. Hit so hard, they shut the track down for around an hour while they completely replaced an entire section of the steel wall where he hit and bent it." Santos did race in the Nationwide Race in Daytona 2 days following a practice crash. Santos raced Aric Almirola's backup car out of the JR Motorsports (Dale Earnhardt Jr’s) stable.
  Santos ran as high as tenth in the Nationwide Series race and in the end finished 23rd.
  A smaller restrictor-plate was used in Thursday’s Gatorade Duel at Daytona in an attempt to lower the horsepower and keep the cars from running over 200 miles per hour in the draft. On Sunday, NASCAR lowered the tolerance in the air inlet on the front grille and a pressure relief valve on the radiators to force the cars to unlock from a two-car draft in order to keep the engine temperatures down.
The new size for the restrictor plate is 57/64ths of an inch — a reduction of 1/64th. That’s a decrease of 12-horsepower and in turn will lower the rpm (revolutions per minute) after some teams reported running more than 9,000 rpm in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona Int’l Speedway Saturday night. Two-car packs ran speeds exceeding 206 mph in the race.
  Tony Stewart continued his domination of the Nationwide Series season opener, overcoming a late pit stop to fix a flat tire to catch Clint Bowyer at the finish line. It was his fourth consecutive win in the opener for NASCAR's second-tier series and sixth in the past seven seasons.
  Trevor Bayne, in just his second Sprint Cup Series start, pulled off a stunning victory in his first Daytona 500 on Sunday, becoming the youngest winner in the 53 years of the Great American Race. Bayne, who turned 20 the day before the biggest race of his career, took the Wood Brothers back to Victory Lane for the first time since 2001. The victory for NASCAR pioneers Leonard and Glen Wood ended a 10-year-losing streak, and came the week of the 10th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s fatal accident on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
  It had everyone almost certain Sunday’s win would go to Earnhardt Jr., the prodigal son, who shied away from the suggestion that the stars were lined up for a spectacular tribute to his father.
  On Lap 29, Michael Waltrip, pushing David Reutimann, got misaligned and spun Reutimann, triggering a wreck that took out literally one-third of the field. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambrose and feel-good story Brian Keselowski were among those collected in the wreck. Waltrip had spun out Kyle Busch earlier in the race in almost exactly the same way. But in that incident, Busch didn't hit anyone, and was able to get back in the mix with little lost but some sheet metal. Reutimann and the huge pack around him weren't quite so lucky.

  Last year, 2015, Ryan Preece was on a mission Monday night at New Smyrna as he wasted little time after the drop of the green of night No.4’s Tour type Modified feature. Preece started third in the 14 car field and as the field completed lap one, shot past Justin Bonsignore for the lead. Try as he might, Bonsignore’s car was no match for the all new Troyer Concept Car that car owner Eddie Partridge had purchased for 2015. Bonsignore finished second after a spirited battle with Chuck Hossfeldt who ended up third. JR Bertuccio and Jimmy Zacharias rounded out the top five. Eddie MacDonald made it two for two as he won the American-Canadian Tour 100. Wayne Helliwell, a two-time ACT champions, used patience throughout the event to make his way to the front and eventually challenge MacDonald on a late restart before settling for a second-place finish. Alex Labbé finished third. Keith Rocco got his new engine and finished 13th. Coming from the rear, Rocco had worked his way into the top five before being slowed by a deflating tire. Jeff Rocco finished 20th.
  Rain washed out all racing at New Smyrna on Tuesday night.
  In Wednesday night action at New Smyrna, Eddie MacDonald ended up going three for three in American-Canadian Tour competition. The field was inverted and coming from a 17th starting spot was not a problem. MacDonald took the lead after diving under Keith Rocco and Brad Babb in lap 71. Wayne Helliwell, Jr. ended up in second spot with Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., third. Babb and Alex Labb’e rounded out the top five. Rocco finished sixth. Eric Goodale broke the strangle hold that Ryan Preece had on the Modifieds at New Smyrna as he took the win in the John Blewett III Memorial 76 lap event. Goodale took advantage of Preece’s mis-handling mount with two laps to go as he shot into the lead. At the checker, Preece had faded to third as Justin Bonsignore took over the runner-up spot. JR Bertuccio and Chuck Hossfeld rounded out the top five.
  Also on Wednesday night, Bret Hearn took the checkered flag on the dirt at Volusia Speedway Park in the Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Series opener during the DIRTcar Nationals. Hearn swept into the lead late in the 30-lap feature then charged to victory for the 861st time overall in his storied career. Hearn dedicated the victory and the Gator trophy to fellow racer Brian Stevens, who lost his battle with cancer earlier in the day.
  David Garbo, a native of Stonington, Connecticut, took the lead from early leader Brandon Jones on lap 20 of the 50-lap Super Late Model feature and never looked back on the way to scoring his first career SLM victory on Thursday night at the New Smyrna Speedway. Ryan Preece continued his winning ways in the Modifieds in Florida. Preece took the lead from JR Bertuccio on lap 21 of the 35 lap feature. Bertuccio faded in the closing laps as he gave way to Chuck Hossfeld who finished second. Bertuccio, Eric Goodale and Jim Zacharias rounded out the top five.
  The Daytona International Speedway ran "The Duals" on Thursday night in front of a lot of empty seats. Defending Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. went from last to first to win thenight’s first Budweiser Duel at Daytona qualifying race. He defeated Hendrick Motorsports teammate and Daytona 500 pole winner Jeff Gordon’s Chevrolet by .166 of a second. Joey Logano was third followed by Tony Stewart with Clint Bowyer rounding out the top five.In the second "Dual" Jimmie Johnson was able to hold off the field at the finish and Danica Patrick was able to work her way into the Daytona 500 starting lineup with a 10th-place finish in a damaged race car. Johnson defeated Kyle Busch by .125 of a second. Carl Edwards was third with Greg Biffle, fourth and Martin Truex Jr., fifth.
  In a somewhat related matter, NASCAR has indefinitely suspended Kurt Busch after a Kent County (Del.) Family Court commissioner issued his opinion linking the driver to domestic violence acts that were allegedly committed by Busch against his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll.
  Ryan Preece was the odds-on favorite to win the Richie Evans Memorial 100 on Friday night. He delivered and also wrapped up the series championship. At the drop of the green, Cole Powell jumped out to the early lead while Preece conservatively ran near the rear of the 14 car field. Spencer Davis was also an early factor as he stretched out a big lead with his Hill family mount
  Chuck Hossfeld, who had been a bridesmaid all week looked like he had the right combination as he took the lead on lap 71 with Preece in his mirror. Hossfeld’s blaze of glory lasted only one lap as Preece took the low road and the lead. Hossfeld held on for second. Eric Goodale, J.R. Bertuccio, and Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top five. Preece was honored post-race as the series Champion.
  Ryan Reed stayed out of two major late-race crashes during the Alert Today Florida 300 at the Daytona Speedway on Saturday, got a run on leader Brad Keselowski on the final lap and used a push from Roush Fenway Racing teammate Chris Buescher to take the lead. Reed, who has overcome Type 2 Diabetes to continue racing, celebrated wildly in Victory Lane. The emotions were quite different in the Joe Gibbs Racing pit. Kyle Busch suffered a right-leg injury after a vicious crash with nine laps to go saw his No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry hit the inside concrete retaining wall, which doesn’t have a SAFER barrier, at 90 mph. Brad Keselowski finished second.
  Joey Logano had one of the few cars capable of beating a Chevrolet brigade as the driver of the No. 22 Pennzoil/Shell Ford won the 57th Daytona 500 on Sunday, holding off 2007 Daytona winner Kevin Harvick and defending Daytona champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jeff Gordon, who appeared to be a prime contender to win the Daytona 500 in his final attempt, crashed on the backstretch of a green, white, checkered flag finish. Logano won the race when the checkered and yellow flags were displayed on the 203rd and final lap of the 200-lap race that went into overtime.
  Logano’s Ford defeated Harvick’s Chevrolet by 1.006 seconds. Earnhardt’s Chevrolet was third followed by Denny Hamlin’s Toyota and Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet. Logano is a graduate of the Thompson Speedway Quarter Midget ranks.
  Big news continued to come out of eastern Connecticut concerning the future of the Waterford Speedbowl. Internet racing news site reported that new track owner Bruce Bemer confirmed exclusively to RaceDayCT that he has named Shawn Monahan as the new general manager/promoter of the facility. Bemer also said that former track owner Terry Eames would not be a part of the track’s management staff in any capacity going forward. Monahan said he would bring former race director Scott Tapley back to the track. Tapley left his position as race director at the Speedbowl after the 2012 season to become the series director for the Valenti Modified Racing Series. Tapley is now the race director at Thompson Speedway, Lee USA Speedway in Lee N.H. and also leads the Mr. Rooter New New England Truck Series.
  Longtime track official Eric Webster would serve as chief steward under Tapley. Patrick Williams, who served as race director last year, will work under Tapley and Webster. Monahan said other slots within the management of the facility will be filled soon.
  Monahan said the track will remain NASCAR sanctioned and management is in talks with NASCAR to get a Whelen Modified Tour date for the 2015 season, despite the fact that NASCAR has already released a Whelen Modified Tour schedule. An opening weekend for racing has not been decided upon as of yet.
  In operation since 1951, the shoreline oval has provided second to none in competition. As a racer, Monahan has seen the best and the worst in management at the speedbowl. It is sincerely hoped that Bruce Bemer and Shawn Monahan will breathe new life into the track and will have many years of success in their operation.
  On a sad note, Mike Chapman, 62, died Monday, February 16, 2015 at his home in East Wareham unexpectedly. Mike was active in automobile racing for many years. He was a pit crew member and crew chief for several NASCAR Modified Series and ARCA teams. Mike was race director for both Thompson and Seekonk Speedways and also worked as a spotter at Daytona International Speedway. 

  That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.

Looking Back Archive

Source: Phil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: February 19, 2016

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