The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

February 16, 2018

  Sixty years ago in 1958 Paul Goldsmith went pole to pole to win what was to be the last event run at Daytona on the 4.1 mile beach-road course. Goldsmith led all 39 laps and collected $4550 for his efforts. Curtis Turner finished second in the 49-car field. Jack Smith, Joe Weatherly and Gwyn Staley rounded out the top five.

  Fifty five years ago in 1963, two hundred-mile qualifying races were held on Thursday to set the starting lineup for the Daytona 500. Junior Johnson in the Ray Fox Chevrolet won the first qualifier over Paul Goldsmith, AJ Foyt, Larry Frank and Dan Gurney. Northern hot shoe Red Foote started 21st and finished 16th. USAC driver Johnny Rutherford passed Rex White with five laps to go to win the second qualifier. White finished second and was followed by Fred Lorenzen, Ned Jarrett, Nelson Stacey and Tiny Lund. The 500 had a storybook finish as Lund took the win for the injured Marvin Panch. Ned Jarrett was leading with nine laps to go when he ran out of gas. Lund, who spent most of the race drafting, made one less pit stop than the rest of the field and went the entire 500-mile distance on the same set of tires. Lund’s average speed was 151.566 mph. The announced attendance was 70,780. Lorenzen finished second and was followed by Jarrett, Nelson Stacey and Dan Gurney. Red Foote started 35th and finished 29th as his engine blew on lap 113 of the 200 lap distance.

  Fifty years ago in 1968, the qualifying races rained out and the starting field for the Daytona 500 was based on time trial that were held the previous week. Cale Yarborough took the lead from LeRoy Yarbrough with four laps to go as he won the 10th annual Daytona 500. Bobby Allison finished third with Al Unser and David Pearson rounding out the top five. Eleven yellows for 60 laps slowed the average speed to 143.251 mph as 94,800 looked on.

  Forty five years ago in 1973, Buddy Baker and Cale Yarborough traded the lead 15 times during the running of the first 125-mile qualifying event. With only one caution, Baker took the win with Yarborough on his bumper. Gordon Johncock finished third with Richard Petty and Dick Brooks rounding out the top five. Darrell Waltrip in an independent entry finished sixth. Maynard Troyer, from the Modified ranks, finished 11th. The second 125 produced a big surprise as independent CoCo Marlin passed David Pearson with six laps to go and went on to take the win. Hershal McGriff finished second as Pearson faded to ninth at the checker. AJ Foyt, Bobby Issac and James Hylton rounded out the top five. Pete Hamilton started on the pole only to lose an engine with eight laps to go. Richard Petty won his fourth Daytona 500 after Buddy Baker lost an engine with six laps to go. Baker was the fastest of the 40 starters and had led the most laps. Bobby Issac finished second with Dick Brooks, AJ Foyt and Hershal McGriff making up the top five. Outside pole sitter Pete Hamilton finished dead last in 40th spot after his engine blew on lap 33 of the 200-lap distance. Announced attendance was 100,000.

  Forty years ago in 1978, Bugsy Stevens was the Wednesday night winner at New Smyrna. Fred DeSarro finished second with Ronnie Bouchard, third. George Kent took the top spot at New Smyrna on Thursday night. Geoff Bodine was hot on his tail but had to settle for second spot. Bugsy Stevens, DeSarro and Satch Worley rounded out the top five. The Thursday 125’s at Daytona saw AJ Foyt pass David Pearson with 19 laps to go as he went on to win the first 50 lap-125 mile event. Pearson finished second and was followed by Donnie Allison, Cale Yarborough and Bill Elliott. Darrell Waltrip and Richard Petty swapped the lead three times on the final lap of the second 125. Waltrip came out on top by a car length. Benny Parsons finished third with Ron Hutcherson and Dave Marcis rounding out the top five. The NASCAR Modifieds ran a 200-mile event at the tri-oval at the Daytona International Speedway on Friday. Darrell Waltrip outclassed the field as he took the win over Richie Evans, Satch Worley, Jerry Cook and Joe Thurman. Ronnie Bouchard put the Bob Judkins 2x in victory lane on Friday night. DeSarro remained consistent as he finished second. Junior Hanley, Stevens and Charlie Jarzombek completed the top five. Darrell Waltrip continued his hot streak at Daytona as he won the Permatex 300 at Daytona on Saturday and on Saturday night at New Smyrna Geoff Bodine, who finished sixth at Daytona that afternoon, took the win. Ronnie Bouchard finished second and wrapped up the New Smyrna World Series Modified title. Richie Evans finished third. After twenty-one years of trying, Bobby Allison finally won the Daytona 500. Allison started 33rd and took the lead from Buddy Baker with 10 laps to go. Cale Yarborough finished second with Benny Parsons, Ron Hutcherson and Dick Brooks following. The speedway released an attendance figure of 140,000.

  Thirty five years ago in 1983, Richie Evans picked up his third win of the series at New Smyrna on Wednesday night. Gail Barber finished second with Bentley Warren, third. Moose Hewitt and Mike Mclaughlin rounded out the top five. In the 125-mile qualifiers at Daytona on Thursday Dale Earnhardt won the first one and Neil Bonnett, the second one. Evans also won on Thursday and Friday nights. Greg Sacks didn’t have the required steam and had to settle for second on Thursday night. Mike Mclaughlin finished third with Jamie Tomaino and Reggie Ruggiero rounding out the top five. Mid-western ASA star Dick Trickle drove Joe Brady's car to a solid second on Friday night with Tomaino third and Sacks, fourth. At Daytona on Saturday, Darrell Waltrip won the Goody’s 300. Geoff Bodine finished second with Neil Bonnett, third. Richie Evans finished fourth on the final night at New Smyrna and sewed up the series title. Reggie Ruggiero took the win over Tony Hirschman and Mclaughlin. Capping off Speedweeks was the running of the Daytona 500, which was won by Cale Yarborough. Bill Elliott finished second with Buddy Baker, third. Ronnie Bouchard and Geoff Bodine suffered engine failure and did not finish.

  Thirty years ago in 1988, with the exception of the series finale, the Richie Evans Memorial 100, Reggie Ruggiero dominated on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at New Smyrna. He lost an engine during the running of the 100, which was won by Tony Jankowiak. Tom Baldwin finished consistently in second spot during the final four nights and wrapped up the series title. The Daytona International Speedway all but belonged to Bobby Allison as he won one of the 125’s, the Goody’s 300 and scored an emotional win over son Davey in the Daytona 500
  Twenty five years ago in 1993, Ricky Fuller took down the win at New Smyrna on Wednesday night. Reggie Ruggiero finished second with Ed Kennedy, Steve Park and Richie Gallup rounding out the top five. Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt won the Thursday 125-mile qualifiers at Daytona. Rain washed out the Thursday night action at New Smyrna. Richie Gallup managed to pull out a win on Friday night at New Smyrna as he held off Ricky Fuller and Ed Kennedy. Dale Earnhardt led a Winston Cup contingent including Ken Schrader, Harry Gant and Terry Labonte across the start-finish line in the Goody’s 300. Steve Park won the Richie Evans Memorial at New Smyrna on Saturday night. Bob Park came home second and was followed by Ed Kennedy, Tom Baldwin and Richie Gallup. During the running of the event Mike Ewanitsko spun Gallup out and when told to go to the rear, parked his car. Dale Earnhardt was headed for his first Daytona 500 win when Dale Jarrett passed him with two laps to go.

  Twenty years ago in 1998, Ted Christopher, in the Bear Motorsports entry, started 5th and took the lead from Doug French on lap 12 and went on to take the win on Wednesday night at New Smyrna. French finished second and was followed by Tim Arre, Jan Leaty and Mike Ewanitsko. Sterling Marlin and Dale Earnhardt won the 125’s at Daytona on Thursday. For Earnhardt, it was his ninth 125-mile victory in a row. Christopher and French finished one-two again on Thursday night Jan Leaty finished third with George Kent and Mike Ewanitsko rounding out the top five. New Smyrna fell victim to fog on Friday night. It was a welcome break that allowed competitors some extra time to prepare for the series ending Richie Evans Memorial 100. At Daytona on Saturday, Joe Nemechek led all but 15 of the 120 lap distance to take the win in the Goody’s 300. Jeff Purvis finished second with Mark Martin, third. The Richie Evans Memorial at New Smyrna on Saturday night turned into a slugfest that saw a lot of bent equipment and hot tempers. Jan Leaty took the win over Jamie Tomaino, George Kent and Doug French. During the running of the event Mike Ewanitsko was walled by Leaty when he attempted to pass. Tim Arre crashed on a re-start and Ricky Miller flipped. Ted Christopher got a little over anxious and lost it only to get hit by George Bock, then t-boned by Dan Knoll. After 20 years of trying, Dale Earnhardt finally won the Daytona 500. In dominating style, Earnhardt led the final 60 laps. Bobby Labonte finished second with Jeremy Mayfield, third.

  Fifteen years ago in 2003 at New Smyrna on Tuesday night, Tim Arre was the surprise winner after Ted Christopher and JR Bertuccio tangled on the last lap while fighting for the lead Bertuccio held on to finish second with George Bock, third. Christopher ended up eighth. The Modifieds ran a 50 lapper on Wednesday night. Ted Christopher pitted for tires after an early tangle with Ed Flemke Jr. Flemke led until five to go when Christopher took the lead for the win. Flemke finished second with JR Bertuccio, third. The Daytona 500 qualifying 125-mile events run on Thursday were yawners. Robbie Gordon won the first and Dale Earnhardt Jr., the second. The only passing was in the pits during pit stops. JR Bertuccio went pole to pole to win the 25-lap feature at New Smyrna on Thursday night. George Kent, Ed Flemke Jr, Rob Summers and Ted Christopher rounded out the top five. The Richie Evans Memorial 100 was run at New Smyrna on Friday night. Ed Flemke had the field covered until he lost an engine on lap 87. Tim Arre inherited the lead and went on to take the win over Bertuccio and Mike Ewanitsko. The Busch Series 300 was run at Daytona on Saturday. The Bushwhackers prevailed as Kevin Harvick led the first 53 laps and Dale Earnhardt Jr. led the rest of the way to take the win. Mike Finch won the final night at New Smyrna. Christopher, who borrowed an engine from George Bock, finished second with Summers, third. Christopher accumulated enough points to secure the track series championship. The Daytona 500 closed out Speedweeks on a wet note as the event was halted one lap passed half way because of rain. Michael Waltrip, leading at the time, was awarded the win. Many fans were displeased by this outcome.

  Ten years ago in 2008, at New Smyrna it was back to business for the Tour type Modifieds and the SK type Modifieds on Monday night. The new week brought in some new competition including the Tom Baldwin Sr Tribute car that would be driven by Sprint Cup driver Kyle Busch. Other new arrivals included James Civali, Buck Catalano, Ronnie Silk and Barry Callavini.
  In the Tour type Modified 25 lap feature Ryan Preece, who is the grandson of legendary car owner Bob Judkins, took advantage of the eight-car qualifying inversion by starting on the Pole Position of the Tour-Type Modified race and led pole to pole to score his first Tour-Type Modified victory. Kevin Goodale finished second and was followed by Chuck Hossfeld, Bobby Grigas and Ted Christopher.
  The SK type Modified feature saw a surprise winner in the form of Eric Goodale. Goodale, who had been running in third spot, took advantage of a tangle between leaders Kenny Horton and Jimmy Blewett. Both drivers went into turn four nose to tail with Horton leading Blewett on the final lap. Blewett attempted to rattle Horton with a blast from his chrome horn. The blast was a little too much as Horton spun and Blewett hit the wall. Horton attempted to roll across the track to the finish line as Goodale spun to avoid being collected in the wreck. Goodale’s car suffered slight damage as he hit the wall after taking the win. Blewett took full blame for the incident. Horton managed to finish second with Josh Sylvester, third. Billy Anderson and Brad VanHouton rounded out the top five. Blewett ended up 11th in the final rundown.
  Heavy rain and a bad forecast forced the New Smyrna Speedway to cancel Tuesday night’s racing program.
  On Wednesday night at New Smyrna Kenny Horton redeemed himself from earlier misfortunes and defeats as he won the SK Type Modified feature over Josh Sylvester. It was a great victory for Horton but the night belonged to Jimmy Blewett who won the 50 lap feature that was run in memory of his late brother John Blewett III. In the 50 lap John Blewett III Memorial Jimmy Blewett started on the pole and led every lap to score the win over Ted Christopher. Christopher recovered from a spin with Chuck Hossfeld on lap 8 and passed Ron Silk for the second spot on a lap 20 restart. At the finish Silk faded to fourth as Bob Grigas took over the third finishing spot. Hossfeld rounded out the top five.
  Horton stated that he was taking the rest of the week off in order to spend some quality time with his family. Jimmy Blewett finished third in the SK type event and was followed by Glen Griswold, Eric Goodale and Billy Anderson. Nineteen cars started the SK type race and 23 started the Tour type Modified race.
  For the second time within a week Jimmy Blewett scored a clean sweep at New Smyrna as he won both the Tour type and SK type Modified features on Thursday night. In the Tour type feature Blewett took the lead from Chuck Hossfeld on lap four and pulled away from the field, running uncontested for the rest of the 25 lap distance. Hossfeld finished second with Ted Christopher, third. Eric Beers and Ryan Preece rounded out the top five. In the SK type feature Blewett took a lot of heat from Josh Sylvester but in the end was able to prevail. Sylvester finished second and was followed by Glen Griswold Brad Vanhouten and Butch Perry.
  In Thursday action at the Daytona Int. Speedway Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the first 150 mile qualifier for his second victory of Speedweeks, and Denny Hamlin captured the second in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, passing teammate Tony Stewart on the first overtime lap, giving the manufacturer its first victory in Sprint Cup racing. Earnhardt’s Thursday's victory came after he moved to the rear of the starting field after changing an engine. Reed Sorenson was second in his Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, Ryan Newman third in his Penske Racing Dodge, Casey Mears fourth in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevy and Carl Edwards fifth in his Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
  Stewart was second in the second race, Earnhardt's teammate Jeff Gordon third, Kasey Kahne fourth in his Gillett Evernham Dodge and Mark Martin fifth in Earnhardt's former Chevy ride at Dale Earnhardt Inc.
  At New Smyrna on Friday night it was the Richie Evans Memorial for the Tour type Modifieds taking center stage. Eric Beers used a lightning fast pit stop to put him in position to win the prestigious event. A caution on lap 65 of the 100 lap event shuffled the field with most of the front runners pitting including then race leader Ted Christopher. Kevin Goodale elected not to pit and inherited the lead when the field restarted. Goodale’s strategy almost paid off when, with eight laps left, he spun, handing the lead to Beers. Beers then held off Jimmy Blewett to take the win. Goodale recovered to finish 13th. Bob Grigas III finished third and was followed by Ronnie Silk, JR Bertuccio and Chuck Hossfeld. Rounding out the top ten were James Civali, Jon McKennedy, Ted Christopher and Rowan Pennink. There were 19 cars in the field.
  In SK type Modified action the field was trimmed to 15 cars. Jimmy Blewett in his Eddie Partridge owned mount had been the class of the field and on Friday night made it four out of six in World Series competition. Josh Sylvester, for the third time, finished second. Glen Griswold, Billy Anderson and Shelly Perry followed.
  Todd Bodine held off a late push from Kyle Busch and Johnny Benson to win the season-opening NASCAR Craftsman truck race at the Daytona International Speedway on Friday night and picked up his first victory at the Florida Super Speedway. The 2006 Craftsman Truck Series champion passed Erik Darnell coming off pit road with about 13 laps to go, and then stayed out front the rest of the way to claim the Chevy Silverado 250.
Jimmy Blewett finished out his tour of duty at the New Smyrna Speedway World Series with dual championships, the Tour type Modifieds and the SK type Modifieds. For his week under the stars in Florida Blewett scored 3 Tour type wins and 5 SK type wins. Congratulations are in order for the New Jersey driver as well as his owners, Eddie Partridge Racing and Grasso Bros. Racing.
  In the final night of racing, Saturday, there were sparse fields of cars in both divisions. Ten Tour type Modifieds and 13 SK type Modifieds were on hand. Ted Christopher, who had been shut out of victory lane at New Smyrna since 2006 somewhat redeemed himself as he took the checkered flag in the series ending 25 lapper for the Tour Type Modifieds. Jon McKennedy drew the pole starting position and led the event for the first 17 laps before being passed by Christopher. Christopher no sooner had gotten by when McKennedy and Andy Seuss tangled and wrecked hard! Christopher, although winless up to that point was in contention for the series championship. Blewett finished a conservative fifth and was able to sew up the title despite Christopher’s win. Eric Beers finished second and was followed by Chuck Hossfeld and Bob Grigas.
  The SK type Modifieds were supposed to go 50 laps but because of a short field had their distance shortened to 30. Jimmy Blewett started on the outside pole and before one lap was completed blew away pole sitter Shelly Perry for the lead and eventual win. Glen Griswold ended up second and was followed by Eric Goodale, Butch Perry and Jim Zacharias. Shelly Perry faded to finish in 11th spot.
  Ryan Newman snapped an 81-race winless streak Sunday, using a huge push from teammate Kurt Busch to give car owner Roger Penske his first Daytona 500 victory. Penske, the most successful owner in open-wheel history with 14 wins in the prestigious Indianapolis 500, now has a victory in NASCAR's showcase event. In a green-white-checker finish Newman pulled away for his first win since New Hampshire in September 2005, while pre race favorite Tony Stewart had to settle for third. Kurt Busch finished second
  The Sprint Cup, the Nationwise Series and the Craftsman Truck Series head for Fontana CA this weekend. Don Lia, the 2007 Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion will make his maiden voyage in the TRG Motorsports Chevy Truck this Saturday.
  The Hartford Courant reported on Feb 12 that Griswold, CT commercial developer Gregory Mackin had signed an agreement with Terry Eames to buy the Waterford Speedbowl property. Evidently the Courant jumped the gun as property owner Eames stated there had been discussions with several parties interested in buying the Speedbowl and one of them was associated with Jerry Robinson. In Eames’ own words. “There has been no agreement signed with anyone regarding the track changing hands. Nor have any deposits been taken toward such a sale”.
  The property was a go as far as being a race track in 2008 but beyond that, was still in question.

  Five years ago in 2013, The much touted Battle of the Beach at the Daytona International Speedway should have ended in a brawl following the checkered flag. Maybe it did behind the scenes but the live cameras were quickly diverted from any post race interviews or activities. What started out as a good idea turned into a typical NASCAR charade.
  Kyle Larson, the defending NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Champion, who is considered one of NASCAR's next "Golden Boys" literally put the bumper to race leader C.E.Falk as they ran one-two to the checkered flag. Coming off the fourth turn on the final lap Larson executed a one -two punch as he first hit him on the inside followed by the shot that finished him off. Larson took his No. 98 Chevrolet Late Model to Victory Lane with a crumpled front nose after winning the inaugural Whelen All-American Series feature at the Speedway. Larson appeared somewhat arrogant as he exited his car and stood on the roof where he was roundly booed by those in the grandstand. He told the Daytona News Journal " “I don't get booed very often, It's kind of cool.”
  NASCAR control did not do themselves any favors in the credibility department as they allowed the finish to stand. It's too bad because the race it self was pretty decent up to the final moment when Larsen ruined it and NASCAR let it slide.
  The first annual "Battle at the Beach" for the Whelen Modifieds saw another "bump and run" affect the outcome. Pole sitter Todd Szegedy led the first 126 laps of the temporary four-tenths-mile, but dropped out with a broken suspension on lap 127. Mike Stefanik inherited the lead and held off the challenges of Kyle Larson until he missed a shift on a restart with four laps to go, collecting Woody Pitkat in the process, setting the stage for Park’s last-lap victory. Steve Park, a former Modified tour driver, had worked his way from a 26th starting spot in Szegedy's team car. On the final restart, a green-white checker on lap 149, Park slipped under Eric Goodale for second spot. Stefanik took the white flag in the lead and while he was exiting turn to was deliberately spun by Park who went on to take the win. Goodale ended up finishing second with Boehler team cars driven by Ted Christopher and Doug Coby, third and fourth. Patrick Emerling finished fifth..
 A very dejected Mike Stefanik finished 13th, one lap down. In a post race interview the multi time series champion was livid, almost spitting nails when he spoke. Park tried to suggest that Goodale had drilled him, forcing him into the back of Stefanik. A blind man could see that it was not the case, it was an out and out dump job.
  The event produced 17 caution periods and should strongly be reconsidered before scheduling it for next year.
  Evidently based on the "Battle of the Beach" brand of officiating NASCAR feels that it is ok to take out the leader without fear of penalty. NASCAR showed that it has no respect for it's competitors. If for nothing else, one who takes out the leader should be placed at the tail end of the lead lap at the finish, not rewarded with a trophy and a big check.
  Canadian Cameron Hayley won the K&N series race.
  Modified racing returned to New Smyrna on Wednesday night with the John Blewett III Memorial 76 lapper. Woody Pitkat made it two for three at the Samsula, Fla oval as he put the Hillbilly Racing 79 in victory lane. Fourteen cars went to post. Among the missing was Ted Christopher and the Joe Brady 00. For reasons not given, Brady elected to load up and go home. Matt Hirschman also headed home to seek medical attention for a broken wrist and Brandon Ward called it a week because of motor issues.
  The Modifieds ran the entire distance with one caution for a minor spin by Danny Watts. Despite starting on the pole it was not a cakewalk for Pitkat. Ron Silk raced into the lead on the tenth lap and it wasn't until lap 32 when Pitkat took it back. Chuck Hossfeld came alive to take the lead on lap 53 but in the closing laps it was Pitkat who prevailed as he retook the lead on lap 65 and romped to the win. Hossfeld hung on for second with Andy Seuss, third. Patrick Emerling and Jimmy Zacharias rounded out the top five. Hossfeld was later disqualified when it was determined that his car had an illegal gear in the rear end.
  On Thursday night at New Smyrna, Woody Pitkat continued on a roll as he wracked up another win, coming from a fourth place start.
  Thirteen cars went o post for the 35 lap feature. Earl Paules took the lead on the start with Chuck Hossfeld and Andy Seuss in tow. Paules continued to lead until giving way to Seuss on lap 25. Paules wasn't about to roll over and play dead as he banged wheels with Seuss on lap 26. Before another lap was completed Paules found himself in the wall with his right front wheel hanging off the car. Seuss led the restart with Pitkat on his bumper. With five to go Pitkat shot into the top spot where he remained to the finish. Seuss faded to third as Hossfeld moved into second at the checker. Jimmy Zacharias finished fourth with Eric Goodale, fifth.
  Friday was a big day at the New Smyrna Speedway. In addition to hosting the annual Richie Evans Memorial 100 lap Modified event the speedway hosted the Annual Modified Reunion on the speedway grounds. Car owners, drivers, fans and officials from many past decades of racing were on hand to mingle and enjoy the numerous picnics. The place was packed.
  Woody Pitkat had been the dominator all week at New Smyrna but it was Ron Silk who rose to the occasion to score the victory in the Richie Evans 100. Silk started fourth and was never a factor until the late stages after his competition used up their tires. A pit stop on lap 65 set the stage for the run to the checker. Restarting eighth, Silk picked them off on by one. On lap 83 he made a bottom shot on Chuck Hossfeld for the lead and went on to take the win from there. Hossfeld applied a lot of pressure but to no avail as Silk took the checkered flag. Hossfeld finished second with Pitkat, third. Burt Myers and Jimmy Zacharias rounded out the top five.
  The New Smyrna Speedway closed out the World Series on Saturday night. Chuck Hossfeld won the battle but it was Woody Pitkat who won the war. Pitkat wrapped up the World Series Modified title with a solid second place finish on the final night of competition. Nine cars took the green on the final night of competition. Patrick Emerling took the lead from pole sitter Pitkat on the start. Hossfeld took the lead on lap 4 and that's all she wrote. Pitkat held on for second with Andy Seuss, third. Emerling and Jimmy Zacharias rounded out the top five.
  In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing Kevin Harvick remained perfect through Speedweeks on Thursday by winning the first of two 150-mile Budweiser Duel qualifying races. Kyle Busch, won the second duel.
  The Camping World Truck Series took center stage on Friday night. Johnny Sauter was taken out on the final lap at Daytona International Speedway last year. This year, another late wreck helped him get to Victory Lane. Sauter caught a break when defending series champion James Buescher crashed on the final lap of the Trucks Series opener, bringing out a caution that prevented veteran Kyle Busch from making a last-lap move on the leader. Instead, Sauter cruised to victory.
  In Nationwide Series Racing at Daytona Tony Stewart drove through wrecked cars and debris to win for the 19th time at Daytona and seventh time in the last nine season-opening Nationwide races at the Florida track.
  Kyle Larson, who crashed his way to victory in the late Model portion of the "Battle at the Beach", found himself involved in a last lap crash that sent his car sailing into the fence that separates the track from the seats, and large chunks of his car landed in the grandstands. The car itself had its entire front end sheared off, with a piece of burning engine wedged through a gaping hole in the fence.
  At least 33 fans were injured after a tire and large pieces of debris flew into the stands. The crash began as the field approached the checkered flag and leader Regan Smith attempted to block Brad Keselowski to preserve the win.
  Danica Patrick made history out front at the Daytona 500, only to see five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson reclaim his spot at the top in the end. Johnson won his second Daytona 500 with a late push on Sunday, grabbing the spotlight from Patrick as she faded on the final lap. Dale Earnhardt Jr. settled for second as Hendrick drivers went 1-2 in the new Chevrolet SS. Mark Martin was third in a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.

  Last year, 2017, Saturday night’s second annual Kickoff to Speedweeks 50-lap Tour-Type Modified event at the Bronson (Fla) Speedway had a surprise finish after the two leaders came together in the closing moments. Ryan Preese and Matt Hirschman were battling for the lead and win when the two came together on lap 45 of the event. New York’s Jimmy Zacharias, in the right place at the right time inherited the lead and went on to take the win. Greg Narducci a veteran Modified crew chief and observer stated that the tangle of the two was the result of hard racing. “Preece was leading coming out of the fourth turn when Hirschman went low to pass”, he said. Hirschman moved up a little and Preece moved down a little and that was that”, he added.
  Chris Young Jr finished second with JR Bertuccio, third and Jeremy Gerstner, fourth. Hirschman was able to make the restart after the crash and finished fifth. Preece was credited with an eighth place finish in the ten-car field.
  In Speedweek action at the Daytona International Speedway, Joey Logano won the rain delayed Clash when Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin collided in Turn 2 on the final lap of Sunday's rain-delayed Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway. Logano was there to seize the moment. Charging to the outside and grabbing the lead near the entry to the backstretch at the 2.5-mile speedway, Logano took the checkered flag 1.121 seconds ahead of runner-up Kyle Busch, who beat third-place finisher Alex Bowman to the stripe by .018 seconds. Danica Patrick dodged the Turn 2 melee to surge from 10th to fourth on the final lap to post her first top-five finish in any Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, though the result is not official because the Clash is an exhibition event with a limited field. Kevin Harvick, driving a Ford for the first time at NASCAR's highest level, came home fifth. Daniel Suárez, in his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start, finished eighth.
  Second generation driver Chase Elliott won the Coors Light pole for the Daytona 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway with a speed of 192.872mph, his 2nd Daytona pole and 3rd career pole. Elliott has never won from the pole. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 2nd after running 192.864mph. The front row is locked into those spots. Forty two cars attempted to qualify as a very paltry crowd looked on.
  The 2017 season for the unified NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour received another race date. Bill Mullis made the big news announcement Friday: He had purchased Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia, and the historic track will re-open in 2017 to racing.
  He announced the .4-mile oval will host the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and newly unified NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour this season. In addition, the track will return to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series with its weekly racing program.
  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will race at Langley on Saturday, May 13, while the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will make its return on Saturday, Sept. 2.
  Congratulations went out to the Thompson Motorsports Park as they had been awarded the RPM Outstanding Annual Short Track Event Award for their season ending World Series of Auto Racing..

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

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 16, 2018

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