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Friday February 15, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                            

Fifty 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.

Forty-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.

Forty 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.

Thirty 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.

Thirty 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 4.1 road course 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.

Twenty-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 Ruggerio 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 Ruggerio took the win over Tony Hirshman 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.

Twenty years ago in 1988, with the exception of the series finale, the Richie Evans Memorial 100, Reggie Ruggerio dominated on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at New Smyrna. He lost an engine during the running of the 100, which was won by Tony Jankowiac. 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
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Fifteen years ago in 1993, Ricky Fuller took down the win at New Smyrna on Wednesday night. Reggie Ruggerio 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.

Ten 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.

Five 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.

Last year, 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 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.

That’s it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 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.
 

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