RPW Column: Looking Back A Bit: Third Week Of February

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Fifty five years ago in 1967, the Thursday qualifiers were 100 miles. Lee Roy Yarbrough passed AJ Foyt with five laps to go to win the first of two qualifiers run.

Fred Lorenzen, NASCAR’s Golden Boy at the time, drafted his way to win the second event and became the first to go the 100-mile distance without stopping for fuel. Lorenzen actually ran out on the last lap and coasted across the finish line. In the 500, Mario Andretti, after starting 12th, led a one-two sweep for Holman and Moody as they won the big race. Lorenzen finished second.

Fifty years ago in 1972, Dave Marcis and Bobby Allison won the 125’s at Daytona. The Permatex 300 for the Late Model Sportsman (Grandnational) was won by Bill Dennis. Grant Adcox finished second. Joe Thurman, Dave Marcis and Jerry Cook rounded out the top five. Also in the 300 and making a good showing was Fred DeSarro who finished 14th in Len Boehlers Chevelle, Rene Charland, 15th, Maynard Forette, 18th and Lou Lazzaro, 21st. AJ Foyt, driving for the Wood Brothers, won the 500. Charlie Glotzbach finished second, one lap down. Jim Vandiver, Benny Parsons and James Hylton rounded out the top five.

Forty five years ago in 1977, the Modifieds ran on the big oval at Daytona. The 200-mile event took its toll on transmissions and suspensions as only four, Harry Gant, Bay Darnell, Jim Peterson and Jerry Cook finished in the lead lap. Mid week rainouts cut New Smyrna short, as they were able to run on Saturday and Sunday nights, only. Jim Bickerstaff was the Saturday night winner with Richie Evans, Geoff Bodine and Merv Treichler following. Evans took the Sunday night finale over Bodine. Evans was the overall point leader and was crowned the series champion. Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough won the 125-mile qualifiers. Yarborough won the 500 beating out Benny Parsons and Buddy Baker.

Forty years ago in 1982, Greg Sacks continued his domination of the World Series at New Smyrna as he won two of the last three events of the series to take the championship. On Wednesday night, Doug Hewitt finished second with George Kent, Richie Evans and Jerry Cook rounding out the top five. It rained on Thursday night but on Friday it was the same story with Sacks again the winner. Cook finished second and was followed by Maynard Troyer and Gail Barber. The final night of competition saw Evans get the edge with Sacks having to settle for second. Troyer, Kent and Dick Trickle rounded out the top five. Bobby Allison won the Daytona 500.

Thirty five years ago in 1987, Reggie Ruggiero in the Mario Fiore No.44 won two of the last four events of the World Series at New Smyrna and wrapped up the series title. Jamie Tomaino won on Wednesday night. Ruggiero, Tony Jankowiac and Jerry Marquis followed. Ruggiero won a 50 lapper on Thursday night over Tomaino, Tom Baldwin and Dick Trickle. Prior to Friday nights event it was announced that popular car owner Gene DeWitt had passed away. DeWitt was Richie Evans’ sponsor and mentor during his championship years. Ruggerio took the Friday night main over Jim Spencer, Tomaino and Baldwin. The final night of competition saw Spencer taking the win over Ruggerio, Jankowiac and Baldwin.

Geoff Bodine won the Daytona Grandnational 300. Darrell Waltrip finished second with Larry Pearson, third and Brett Bodine, fourth. It was a green-white-checkered finish with all four under a blanket. Any one of the top four could have won it. Kenny Bouchard finished 25th, Merv Treichler finished 37th and Ronnie Bouchard finished 40th. In the Daytona 500, Bill Elliott took the win after Geoff Bodine ran out of gas with three laps to go.

Thirty years ago in 1992, Ricky Fuller, in the Fiore No.44 went pole to pole to take the win at New Smyrna on Wednesday night. Tom Baldwin finished second with Jamie Tomaino, third. Fuller did it again on Thursday night in spite of thick fog. Tomaino finished second with Steve Park, Baldwin and Danny Watts rounding out the top five. Baldwin won on Friday night after Fuller wrecked bad. Richie Gallup finished second with Park, third. Fuller came back on Saturday night to win the Richie Evans 100. Baldwin finished second. Steve Park finished fourth and sewed up the series title. Dale Earnhardt Sr. won the Goodys 300 at Daytona on Saturday. Ernie Irvan finished second with Ward Burton, third. Ricky Craven finished 13th and Jeff Barry finished 14th, both on the lead lap. Davey Allison won the Daytona 500 over Morgan Shepherd and Geoff Bodine.

Twenty five years ago in 1997, Ted Christopher took a hard fought win over Tony Stewart at New Smyrna on Wednesday night. Ricky Fuller finished third with Tom Baldwin, fourth. Dale Jarrett and Dale Earnhardt Sr won the 125’s at Daytona on Thursday Fuller, in the Joe Brady No.00 took the win on Thursday night. Baldwin finished second with Stewart and Tomaino. On Friday it was announced that Joe Lewandowski had been hired as the new promoter-race director at Riverside Park. Baldwin took the top spot on Friday night at New Smyrna. Stewart finished second with Fuller, Christopher and Doug French rounding out the top five. Randy LaJoie took the lead from Dick Trickle on lap 95 of the 120 lap BGN 300 at Daytona and went on to win the event. Todd Bodine ended up second with Michael Waltrip, third. Ted Christopher won the series ending Richie Evans 100 at New Smyrna. Rick Fuller finished second with Ton Baldwin finishing third and sewing up the series title. Jeff Gordon won the Daytona 500 but the main story was the stamina of the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. During the running of the event, Earnhardt flipped on the backstretch. After getting out and surveying the damage, Earnhardt climbed back in and started it up and drove it to the pits for repairs. Needless to say, he finished 31st which is not bad considering.

Twenty years ago in 2002 because of the Sunday night rainout and a scheduled night off on Monday for the Modifieds at New Smyrna double features were run. Eric Beers won the left over event over Nevin George, Rob Summers, Charlie Pasteryak and David Berghman. Charlie Pasteryak won the nightcap as he won a hard fought battle with Ted Christopher. Summers finished third with Jamie Tomaino and David Berghman rounding out the top five. Nevin George and John Blewett III tangled on the track and the action spilled over into the infield where drivers and crews went at it. The end result was a one-night suspension for both. Wednesday night at New Smyrna saw Eric Beers pick up his second win of the series as he beat out George Kent Sr. for the win. JR Bertuccio finished third and was followed by Rob Summers and Nevin George. Among the casualties was Charlie Pasteryak who lost an engine. The Daytona Winston Cup 125’s, usually the best events of Speedweek were ho-hum affairs with Jeff Gordon and Michael Waltrip taking the wins. At New Smyrna on Thursday night David Berghman powered his way to a convincing win over Eric Beers, Rob Summers, Nevin George and George Kent Sr. Rob Summers took the lead with three laps to go in the Richie Evans 100 on Friday night. Charlie Pasteryak, with a fresh engine, finished second with Eric Beers, Jamie Tomaino and Jerry Marquis rounding out the top five. Dale Earnhardt Jr, in the Richard Childress No.3 won the Busch Grandnational 300. George Kent Sr. won the series finale at New Smyrna on Saturday night Ted Christopher finished second with Eric Beers, John Blewett III and David Berghman rounding out the top five. Rob Summers finished seventh and wrapped up the series title. Ward Burton and crew chief Tom Baldwin Jr. won the Daytona 500. Burton took the lead on a restart with four laps to go. Sterling Marlin had been leading but was put to the rear after he exited his car while the field was under a red flag to pull some sheet metal away from a tire. Elliott Sadler finished second and Geoff Bodine, who started 35th, finished third. Two days later, on February 19, a bobsled designed by Bodine and Bob Cuneau won the Gold Medal in the women’s competition at the Winter Olympics. The bobsleds also won the bronze and silver medals in the men’s competition.

Fifteen years ago in 2007. racing in Florida at the New Smyrna Speedway for the Tour type Modifieds and SK type Modifieds continued on Monday night. The Tour type Modifieds numbered 26 and the SK types, 10. Zach Sylvester was the top time trailer as he toured the half-mile oval in 16.695 seconds. Jimmy Blewett was second fastest. John Blewett III started fourth and wasted little time as he took the lead from Zach Sylvester in turn three of the first lap. From there on it was hammer down for Blewett as he kept his Brady Bunch mount out in front and went on to take the win. Sylvester finished second. Ted Christopher continued to be a non finisher as he was involved in a wreck with Joey Logano. Logano was running fourth in the latter stages until getting together with Andy Seuss. Both drivers kept their cars straight, but lost several positions. Jimmy Blewett and Eric Beers got together while running for fourth. Blewett appeared to have a problem, catching Beers off guard. The two locked bumpers, putting both to the back of the pack. Logano then got together with Ted Christopher as the two were battling four fourth position. TC slammed into the wall, while Logano kept going. Seuss then got together with Donny Lia while racing in the top-10, with Seuss getting into the front stretch wall and falling out of the event. Earl Paules ended up third with Don Lia and Chuck Hossfeld rounding out the top five. Jimmy Blewett made it three in a row in the SK type Modified feature.

John Blewett III became the first repeat winner in World Series Tour type Modified racing on Tuesday night. While those left behind in the northeast were bracing themselves for a winter storm heavy rain pounded the New Smyrna area. By race time the rain stopped and racing went on as planned. Bob Grigas started on the pole with John Blewett III on the outside. Prior to the start of the race Ted Christopher and Jim Storace spun in turn 2. Grigas took the lead on the restart with Blewett, Eric Beers and Zach Sylvester in tow. Blewett went under Grigas on lap 8. Evidently Blewett took the air off Grigas’ spoiler as he spun. In the resulting pig pile Don Lia suffered right front wheel and suspension damage after he was hit by Sylvester who had no where to go. Two more minor cautions slowed the event. At the finish it was Blewett III followed by Beers, Sylvester, Earl Paules and Jon McKennedy. Twenty-three cars took the green flag in the Tour-Type Modified feature, but two of the competitors that had competed well in previous nights were absent from the starting lineup. Joey Logano, driving Gary Cretty’s #26 entry, was a no-show Tuesday, as was James Civali in the second Joe Brady car. Jimmy Blewett made it four in a row in SK type Modified action.

The Tour type Modifieds went the 50 lap distance on Wednesday night. Jimmy Blewett became the fourth different winner as he took advantage of his brother’s mis-fortune when John pitted with a broken spindle. Eric Beers ended up second with Joey Logano, third. Ted Christopher managed to stay out of trouble and finished fourth. Earl Paules rounded out the top five. Twenty-five cars took the green with Don Lia and John Blewett III leading the charge. Shelly and Butch Perry brought out early cautions in separate incidents. Jimmy Blewett moved into second spot and glued himself to Lia’s bumper. Blewett made the race-winning move on lap 14 and that’s all she wrote! Earl Paules broke Jimmy Blewett’s stranglehold in the SK type Modifieds as he took the win after leading the entire event. Blewett was forced to start in the rear after it was discovered that his car had an illegal carburetor spacer plate.

Heavy rain moved into the New Smyrna area on Thursday night just as the Modifieds were having their hot laps in preparation for their feature. In Modified tour type qualifying Jimmy Blewett set fast time just one night after winning his first Tour-Type feature of Speedweeks 2007. Wednesday’s second-place finisher Eric Beers was second quick in qualifying. Blewett then set fast time in the SK Modified feature, which was also rained out.

Jimmy Blewett came into the Richie Evans 100 with both guns blazing and picked up where he left off on Wednesday night as he dusted the field and took the win. Blewett started on the outside pole and wasted little time as he took the lead from Eric Beers on lap 3 with a slingshot move. Ted Christopher ended up second when he passed Beers with eight laps to go. Beers faded to fourth in the end as Don Lia passed him on the final lap. Zach Sylvester rounded out the top five. Among tose who failed to finish were John Blewett III who wrecked with Bob Holmes, Chuck Hossfeld who lost an engine and Andy Seuss who ended up in the wall..

Twenty-five Tour type Modifieds went to post. The Grand Marshals for the event were Tara and Richie Evans Jr, children of the late champion. In addition to the Richie Evans Memorial 100 Jimmy Blewett continued his winning ways as he won the final event of the series on Saturday night. Starting on the pole, Blewett led every lap. Don Lia moved into second spot on lap 18 but had nothing for Blewett at the end. John Blewett III finished third with Zach Sylvester and Eric Beers rounding out the top five. Ted Christopher was up to second by lap 15 but dropped out shortly after and ended up 16th. Eric Beers wrapped up the series championship. In SK type Modified racing it was Kevin Goodale holding off Jimmy Blewett and Earl Paules through numerous lead swaps in the closing laps of the 40-lap SK Modified feature. Jimmy Blewett won the the SK type Modified Championship.

Eric Beers used consistency to earn the Tour type Modified Championship. Beers beat out Jimmy Blewett by 15 points for the title. John Blewett III ended up third with Don Lia and Zach Sylvester rounding out the top five. Defending champion Andy Seuss finished out of the top ten.

At the Daytona Speedway, Michael Waltrip’s new Toyota team took the hardest hit yet in what had mushroomed into NASCAR’s toughest push against cheating during Daytona 500 week in at least 31 years. Waltrip’s crew chief and vice president of competition were ejected from Daytona International Speedway and suspended indefinitely from NASCAR competition. Waltrip was docked 100 driver points and crew chief David Hyder fined $100,000. The team’s vice president, Bobby Kennedy, was suspended because he was held ultimately responsible. It was an enormous embarrassment to Toyota in its first Nextel Cup outing. But NASCAR competition vice president Robin Pemberton said “this is a team issue. This has nothing to do with a manufacturer.” An illegal substance – which a source told The Associated Press was a property contained in jet fuel – was found in an intake manifold of Waltrip’s car during inspection Sunday. In an unrelated matter, four crew chiefs were suspended and fined for various infractions. Three were from the Ray Evernham Dodge team which includes drivers Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Scott Riggs, and one was from Matt Kenseth’s Roush Racing team.

The Thursday 150 mile qualifiers were won by Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon. A post race inspection showed that Gordon’s car was too low. The win wasn’t taken away but his car was placed 42nd in the Daytona 500 starting field. Kevin Harvick scored a one-two punch as he won both the Busch Series 300 and the Daytona 500. Harvicks 500 win was by inches over Mark Martin.

Congratulations went out to Mr and Mrs Mike Boehler on the birth of their new baby, Kate Anna Boehler who was born on Feb. 15. The newest member of Boehler Racing weighed in at 6 lb. 11 oz. 21 inches long.

With the proposed speedway in the metro New York City area a dead issue the International Speedway Corp. began exploring the possibility of building a national-level motorsports racetrack in Adams County near Denver International Airport. The company said it was considering pursuing a public-private partnership to develop the speedway. The speedway could seat approximately 75,000 people and have a “considerable economic impact to the region,” International Speedway officials said in a statement.

Ten years ago in 2012, After having Sunday night off the Modifieds and SK Modifieds resumed their series at New Smyrna. Ryan Preece who suffered severe damage to his family owned mount on Saturday night returned to the racing wars with his grandfathers’ Modified, the legendary Bobby Judkins 2x. Fourteen Modifieds and five SKs went to post for their 25 lap feature. Daniel Hemric, driving the Hillbilly Racing No. 79 went pole to pole to record the win. It was not a Sunday drive as he had a lot of heat on his bumper through out the feature. Eric Goodale finished second with Patrick Emerling, third. Two cautions during the early going for minor spins slowed field. Going into the closing moments things heated up. On lap 22 Chuck Hossfeldt and Ted Christopher made contact with Hossfeldt spinning out. Both were put to the rear for the restart. On lap 23, Preece made contact with John Jensen bringing another yellow. On the restart, Hemric jumped out in front and sprinted to the win. A tangle between Preece and Christopher unfolded at the finish. Preece was under Jensen who ran into Christopher. Jensen then tried to go between Preece and Christopher and made slight contact. The end result found Christopher and Preece in the wall with damage. Rob Schultz was the top finishing SK.

Twelve Modifieds and five SK Modifieds were on hand on Tuesday night at New Smyrna. Ted Christopher appeared to have recorded his second win of the series until his car was disqualified when he and car owner Joe Brady refused a teardown. Second place finisher Chuck Hossfeldt was awarded the win. Patrick Emerling was elevated to the runner-up spot and Daniel Hamric was placed third. Eric Goodale and Johnsen rounded out the top five. Christopher had taken the lead from Hossfeldt after a slingshot-bottom shot move on lap 4. Evidently track officials and fellow competitors felt that the Brady #00 had a little too much power. One can understand why a teardown was refused. First of all the pit area at New Smyrna is dusty and dirty. Second of all even if the engine in question was found to be legal the cost of re-assembly would far exceed the winners share of the purse paid. It makes more sense to take the engine out and put in a spare and go on from there.

Rain washed out Wednesday night’s action. It was learned that Joe Brady and Ted Christopher had made the decision to end their racing at New Smyrna and return home.

The skies cleared on Thursday as 19 Modifieds, including five SKs went to post. Joining the field was Chris Young and Andy Seuss. Rejoining was the Preece #40 that had been rebuilt after an early series crash. The event was originally scheduled to be a 50 lapper in honor of John Blewett III but it was reduced to 25 laps. Chuck Hossfeldt took the lead with five laps to go and went on to record the victory. Patrick Emerling, who had led from the drop of the green, finished second with Preece, third. Rounding out the top five was Eric Goodale and Andy Seuss. Among the casualties were Chris Young and Donnie Nall who wrecked hard on the backstretch on lap 19. Jim Zacharias was the top finishing SK Modified.

The eighth night, Friday, saw the running of the annual Richie Evans 100. Eric Goodale scored the biggest win of his career as he won the event after taking the lead from Daniel Hemric on lap 70. In the final run-down, Ryan Preece finished second with Chuck Hossfeldt, third. Hemric slipped to fourth with Andy Seuss rounding out the top five. Rob Schultz was the top finishing SK. Nine of the original 14 starters finished on the lead lap.

The final night of competition saw only nine cars go to post for the 25 lap Modified feature. Chuck Hossfeldt took the lead from Andy Seuss after a lap 10 restart and went on to record his third win of the series. Hossfeldt was also crowned Series Champion. Following Hossfeldt in the feature finish was Seuss followed by Kyle Ebersole, Daniel Hamric and John Jensen.

It appeared that the 2013 schedule would change, especially concerning the Modifieds who would be in competition at the soon to be constructed 4/10 mile oval on the backstretch at the Daytona Int. Speedway.

Mario Fiore who scooped the Donnie Lia announcement of his return to the Bob Garbarino Mystic Missile in 2012. It had been rumored that Garbarino would retire but it looked like that’s not going to happen. With Lia back it would be interesting to see if Troyer Bob returns as crew chief. The Mystic Missile would be without the during the week services of Jimmy ”The Junkman” Savage as he had suffered a stroke and would be pretty much confined to his home. Jim had been a vital part of Mystic River Marina Racing for many years and would be missed.

Tony Stewart scored the victory in Thursday’s first Gatorade Duel at Daytona while Danica Patrick simply went on a wild ride to end the race. Jamie McMurray’s Chevrolet pinched off Aric Almirola’s Ford which sent Patrick’s car out of control and sent her flying across the asphalt before slamming into the SAFER Barrier. Her Chevrolet was destroyed and because the crash happened on the white flag lap the race was complete with Stewart the winner ahead of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Marcos Ambrose, Michael McDowell and Robby Gordon. Matt Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR Cup champion and 2009 Daytona 500 winner was able to get a hefty push from 2006 Daytona 500 winner and five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson to win Thursday’s second Gatorade Duel at Daytona Qualifying race.

The Nextera 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race ended under the yellow flag and rookie driver John King claimed the victory

James Buescher earned his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory in Saturday’s Drive4COPD 300 at Daytona Int’l Speedway. Buescher, who also posted his first ARCA Racing Series triumph at Daytona, was 11th entering the final turn when the leaders piled into one another and he skated to the bottom to drive the Turner Motorsports Chevrolet to victory.

Three sets of two drivers were racing for the lead when the front duo of Kyle and Kurt Busch drifted up the track forcing the middle pair of Joey Logano and Trevor Bayne to the top groove, taking away the path of Tony Stewart and Elliott Sadler, who were clearly the fastest of the three and headed for Stewart’s fifth straight victory in this race. But after Stewart was forced into the wall and Bayne and Logano spun into the path of the Busch brothers, Buescher accelerated to victory. Brad Keselowski was second in Roger Penske’s Dodge while Sadler guided his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet across the finish line third. Cole Whitt and Austin Dillon completed the top five in a race which was slowed by eight yellow flags (and one red) for 34 of the 120 laps of the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

Polesitter Danica Patrick was involved in an early accident after being bumped by her JR Motorsports teammate Whitt and was eliminated from contention.

Rain, fire and Tide laundry detergent all factored into a Daytona 500 that will go down as the most bizarre in NASCAR history. Matt Kenseth picked up his second Daytona 500.

The first Daytona 500 to be postponed took more than 36 hours to complete after rain pushed it from its scheduled Sunday afternoon start to Monday at lunch, and ultimately turned it into the first ever NASCAR race run in prime-time television. Then Juan Pablo Montoya crashed under caution into a safety truck filled with about 200 gallons of jet fuel, and the collision caused a massive fireball that scorched the track and will be the most indelible image of the 54th running of the “Great American Race. What did they use to clean it up? Tide laundry detergent, of course.

When the 500 finally ended in the early morning hours Tuesday, the two-week SpeedWeeks odyssey wasn’t over: Fog closed the North Carolina airports, stranding drivers and teams at Daytona for yet another night.

The endurance race was long over by the time the television ratings came in later Tuesday. No one was sure what to expect as Fox made the unprecedented decision to show the race in prime time — the best case scenario once rain washed it out on Sunday. NASCAR originally rescheduled for Monday afternoon but scrapped those plans in the morning based on more rain. FOX hit a home run in the ratings.

What happened was a show like no other, beginning from the second lap of the race, when five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was caught in an accident that also collected Danica Patrick, ruining her Daytona 500 debut. From there it was 25 lead changes among 13 drivers, 10 cautions, and that really big fire. Montoya was driving alone under caution when something broke on his car. He spun hard into a safety truck, and the collision caused an instant explosion.

Kenseth and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle took over the lead following the fire stoppage with 40 laps to go.

Earnhardt held off Biffle at the line, while Kenseth grabbed his second Daytona 500 win in four years. He won the 2009 race by passing Elliott Sadler on the backstretch moments before the caution came out for rain, and he was declared the winner while waiting on pit road.

In 53 previous Daytona 500’s, only four have been shortened by rain, none have been postponed. Had the Daytona International Speedway run the 500 on its traditional weekend, last week, the race would have gone off without a hitch. At the urging of FOX Sports NASCAR moved the date. Monsoon type rain fell just about all day in the Daytona area forcing NASCAR to go to their next clear policy. Mike Joy and his announcing team did yeoman’s duty for over five hours talking about everybody and everything associated with the running of the 500. It must be noted that on one occasion during the early 80s when Joy worked at Stafford he talked non-stop for 12 hours on a CB while driving from Martinsville to Connecticut with the late Ed Yerrington who was the promoter and General Mgr at the Stafford Speedway.

NASCAR announced that the 2013 Daytona 500 will remain the last Sunday in February at Daytona International Speedway. Track president Joie Chitwood confirmed that “The Great American Race” would start on Feb. 24 of next year. The race was moved from its traditional second or third week of February this year for the first time since 1971 as NASCAR eliminated its weekend off in early March. Many with timeshares and renewable leases were caught short and had to scramble for last minute accommodations when the change was made this year.

Five years ago in 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. Hirshman 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.

Last year, 2021, The Modifieds, 45 on the entry list, ran at New Smyrna starting on Monday, Feb 8 and finished up with the Richie Evans 100 on Friday, Feb 12. NBC Track Pass provided live nightly coverage. Just to give anyone who signed up for NBC gold last year for New Smyrna, your subscription is probably good until May 2021.

Forty Modifieds attempted to qualify for the opening night 50 lapper. Matt Hirschman was one of the last drivers to take time during Tour-type Modified qualifying Monday night at New Smyrna Speedway, but he was also the quickest. Hirschman clocked in at 17.340 seconds on opening night for the Modifieds at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, just three-thousandths of a second quicker than NASCAR Cup Series competitor Ryan Preece and Jon McKennedy, who tied at 17.343 seconds. Chuck Hossfeldt and Ron Silk rounded out the top five.

Lutz, from Long Island bested a strong field of 35 drivers to claim the 50-lap victory, which didn’t end until early Tuesday morning. Racing was delayed over an hour because of rain. Lutz of Miller Place, New York started from the pole after an eight-car invert following qualifying. He jumped out to the early lead over Patrick Emerling and led the first 14 laps before a red flag for a multi-car accident on the backstretch. The incident, which started when contact between Ryan Preece and Jon McKennedy, claimed a handful of competitors including Anthony Nocella, Eric Goodale, Tyler Rypkema and Tommy Catalano. McKennedy got tapped by Preece in the right rear corner of his car.

Upstate New Yorker and Race of Champions Modified Series champion Patrick Emerling jumped out to the lead for one lap on the ensuing restart before Lutz battled back on the outside to reclaim the lead on Lap 16. Lutz controlled most of the race from that point forward until defending series champion Matt Hirschman lined up to his inside for a restart with four laps to go. Hirschman jumped the restart and was put back. Ron Silk ran inside the top-five throughout the race and ended up finishing third behind Lutz and Hirschman. Six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby charged from his 21st qualifying position to finish fourth, while 10-time Bowman Gray Stadium champion Burt Myers made a late charge into the top five.

Finishing sixth thru tenth were Anthony Nocella, Preece, Brian Robie, Chris Finocchario and Dave Sapienza. McKennedy, who was quite vocal about Preece’s driving, finished 30th.

The race, which began just after 11 p.m. on Monday, took the checkered flag just after 12:30 on Tuesday morning.

Thirty six Modifieds went post for Tuesday night’s 35 lapper at the New Smyrna. Patrick Emerling was the fastest car in time trials and stated fourth following a re-draw. He jumped to second by lap 22, then swapped the lead back and forth with Eric Goodale before taking control for the final time on lap 23. The two drivers made contact in race one of the week on Monday, with Emerling spinning and Goodale going to the rear for the contact. Matt Hirschman finished third, followed by Ryan Preece and night-one winner Craig Lutz. Ron Silk was sixth, followed by Ronnie Williams, Jimmy Blewett, Stephen Kopcik and Jeremy Gerstner finished the top-10.

With the exception of a multi-car wreck on lap 23 the competition was great. Doug Coby who seemed to be headed for a top 5 finished was knocked out of the event when his mount sustained severe front end and driver’s side damage. Running eighth, Coby was shoved into Ryan Preece and ultimately spun into the wall. Among those collected was Marcello Rufrano who sustained front end damage which ended his night. Coby ended up 29th and Rufrano, 30th.

Kyle Busch won the Busch Clash at Daytona after Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott collided on the final lap.

Among those missing on Wednesday night for the John Blewett III Memorial was Doug Coby. The damage to his car, including a front-clip that will need to be replaced, ended his World Series week early. Coby was running eighth on Tuesday night when a stack-up, chain reaction happened in front of him. He got sideways, hit from behind, tried to save the car and ended up into the wall left-front first, facing the wrong way.

In Daytona 500 qualifying Alex Bowman swapped car numbers for the 2021 season, from 88 to 48 – but has certainly retained his Daytona magic, earning the pole position for the Daytona, giving the Hendrick Motorsports driver a record fourth consecutive front row start in the NASCAR Cup Series season-opener. Bowman, 27, went out late in the qualifying order (38th of 44 drivers) Wednesday night, the first night-time pole qualifying session in race history, but his Chevrolet handily set the pace with a lap of 191.261 mph (47.056 secs.), taking the top-spot from Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron by more than a quarter-second. Ryan Preece qualified eighth fastest.

For Preece it was the first of three conquests he would encounter for the night. Still in uniform, he jumped into his car and raced to the New Smyrna hoping to make it in time for the John Blewett III Memorial 75 lapper. Preece made it with little time to spare and started the feature in scratch position. Needless to say he ended a long and stressful night in victory lane.

Tuesday night’s winner Patrick Emerling led the field to the green flag and led the opening 31 laps before Eric Goodale powered out front on lap 32. Making good on his Tuesday night promise to be in contention the rest of the week, Goodale showed the way until Preece made the race-winning pass with slight contact on lap 69. He first had to dispatch Jon McKennedy, who had expressed his displeasure with Preece for an incident a few nights prior during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. The two traded blows for a few laps before Preece was able to make his way past McKennedy with 17 laps left.

A caution would wave moments later, setting up another restart. Mayhem started before the field made it to turn one, with Ron Silk and Tommy Catalano coming together on the frontstretch and collecting several other cars in the process.

Preece, somehow, dove to the bottom and missed everything and emerged from turn two in third position behind leaders Eric Goodale and Tyler Rypkema. With 14 to go Preece took advantage of contact between the leaders to slip by Rypkema for second. That just left Goodale ahead of Preece and in turn three with seven laps left Preece made his move, diving deep into the turn to steal the lead away from Goodale. The caution flag would wave several more times the race was complete, with veteran modified ace Matt Hirschman using the cautions to make a late run at Preece. Despite one final caution and subsequent restart with two laps left that gave Hirschman a shot at Preece, Hirschman had nothing for the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion as he held on to top the 76-lap main event.

Emerling finished third with McKennedy and Silk rounding out the top five. Matt Galko survived the carnage to finish sixth and was followed by Chuck Hossfeld, Eddie McCarthy, Bobby Measmer and Dave Sapienza.

A bonehead move by Tom Martino Jr eliminated Marcello Rufrano from a top finish. Rufrano’s car received severe damage on Tuesday night and after an all day thrashing his crew had his car race ready for the Blewett Memorial. Rufrano qualified ninth out of 37 starters. After avoiding numerous wrecks he was headed to a possible top five finish when Martino spun with 24 laps to go. With the field under caution Martino restarted from high on the track and without looking, dove for the pit entrance where he slammed into the right front of Rufrano’s vehicle, inflicting race ending damage.

On Thursday night, Hirschman used an exciting last-lap pass on Jon McKennedy to break through and score his first victory of the week at New Smyrna Speedway. Jon McKennedy, who has battled bad luck throughout the week, charged to the front and moved under Ronnie Williams for the lead on lap 16. McKennedy led until the final lap, when Hirschman powered to his inside in turn three and made slight contact battling for the win. As McKennedy drifted high, Hirschman powered off of turn four to the checkered flag and his ninth career World Series victory.

Former Tri-Track Open Modified Series champion Ronnie Williams set fast time in qualifying at the half-mile oval and started on the outside of the front row after an invert of two. Williams jumped out to the early lead, showing the way for the opening 15 laps.

McKennedy recorded his best finish of the week with a runner-up performance. Ron Silk finished third, while Patrick Emerling and Ronnie Williams rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Craig Lutz, Eric Goodale, JR Bertuccio, Anthony Nocella and Tyler Rypkema.

Among the missing at New Smyrna on Thursday night was Ryan Preece who recorded a solid fifth in the first of two dual qualifying races held at the Daytona International Speedway. Aric Almirola held off a hard charge from Joey Logano coming to the checkered flag to win Thursday night’s Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1. Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, led 52 of the 60-lap qualifying race for Sunday’s Daytona 500. Austin Dillon edged out Bubba Wallace coming to the finish line to win the second Bluegreen Vacations Duel race in overtime late Thursday night, into Friday morning.

Matt Hirschman won the Series ending Richie Evans 100 on Friday night. Hirschman’s victory was his third straight in the prestigious race, a feat accomplished by no other driver. The win also helped him clinch his third career Tour-type Modified championship at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. Starting from the pole after an invert of 10, Monday night’s winner Craig Lutz dominated the first 75 laps of Friday night’s race before engine issues sidelined him with 25 laps remaining. Hirschman inherited the lead and began to pull away from Ryan Preece before a caution with two laps to go set up a green-white-checkered finish. On the initial attempt at a restart, Preece had the advantage and cleared Hirschman off of turn two. However, the restart would be for naught as the caution flag waved prior to the completion of a lap. That allowed Hirschman to have another attempt as the leader, and he took full advantage of it by pulling away from Preece over the final two laps. Jon McKennedy claimed his second consecutive runner-up finish. Anthony Nocella, Preece and Eric Goodale completed the top five. Hirschman wished Preece good luck at Daytona. “He’s a great talent and I hope he wins the Daytona 500 on Sunday.”

Sixth thru tenth included Eddie McCarthy, Ronnie Williams, Chuck Hossfeld, JR Bertuccio and Dave Sapienza.

Austin Cindric held off Brett Moffitt and Harrison Burton in a two-lap NASCAR Overtime dash to win Saturday’s action-filled Xfinity series 300 at Daytona International Speedway, the season-opener. Defending series champion Chase Elliott finished second.

In a stunning upset at the end of an action-filled, rain-interrupted Daytona 500, Front Row Motorsports driver Michael McDowell claimed his first NASCAR Cup Series victory after charging into the lead during a brutal multi-car wreck in Turn 3 on the final lap. Ryan Preece drove a great and smart race as he finished sixth.

Congratulations to the management of the Stafford Speedway who recently announced that GAF Roofing and Riverhead Building Supply as the newest Stafford Speedway corporate partner with a multi-year agreement. The GAF Roofing 150 presented by Riverhead Building Supply scheduled for Friday, August 6th will feature the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour along with all 5 of Stafford’s weekly racing divisions.

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