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Friday February 12, 2010
 

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1970, Pete Hamilton, driving a Petty Superbird, was an upset winner in the Daytona 500.The event was televised on closed circuit TV. Among the first to greet Hamilton in victory lane were Steady Eddie Flemke, Billy Harman and George Pendergast.

Thirty five years ago in 1975 the NASCAR Modifieds were part of Daytona speedweeks as they ran a 200-mile event on the 4.1-mile infield road course. Merv Treichler took the win over Fred DeSarro, Jerry Cook, Billy Osmun, Don Flynn and Will Cagle. Bobby Allison and Dick Brooks were the 125-mile qualifying race winners and in the 500 Benny Parsons scored an upset victory after late event leader David Pearson spun out.


Needham, Mass. native Pete Hamilton took down the 1970 Daytona 500. Photo from the R.A. Silvia collection.

Thirty years ago in 1980, Richie Evans continued his win streak at New Smyrna as he won on Monday and Tuesday. After a rain out on Wednesday night, Geoff Bodine who had finished second to Evans the last two times out came back on Thursday night and went on to wrack up three in a row. The final night of competition saw Junior Handley take the series finale over George Kent and Evans. Richie Evans as the overall point leader and was crowned the series champion. Buddy Baker was the Daytona 500 winner and in the process set a record speed of 177.602mph.

Twenty five years ago in 1985, Reggie Ruggiero made it two in a row on Monday night at New Smyrna. Doug Hewitt finished second and was followed by Charlie Jarzombek, Richie Evans, Jamie Tomaino and Jim Spencer. Evans and Jim Spencer dominated the rest of the week. Evans won on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and just lost out on the series title, which was won by Spencer. At Daytona, Bill Elliot and Cale Yarborough won the 125's.Geoff Bodine won the Busch Grandnational 300 and Elliot won the 500.

Twenty years ago in 1990, Tiger Tom Baldwin made it two in a row at New Smyrna as he beat out Tony Jankowiac on Monday night. Jay Hedgecock finished third with Richard Savory, fourth. At Daytona, Darrell Waltrip took the pole for the NAPA 300 with Dale Earnhardt on the outside. At New Smyrna on Tues night, Reggie Ruggerio took the top spot with Jankowiac again second. Hedgecock abandoned New Smyrna and went to Volusia County where he took the top spot over Jim Winks and Tom Bolles. Baldwin also jumped ship but to no avail as he could do no better than ninth. Wednesday night at New Smyrna Reggie Ruggerio was not to be denied as he romped to victory over Jankowiac and Jeff Fuller. Meanwhile over at Volusia, Jim Winks, driving for Ted Marsh took the win over Jerry Cranmer. Jankowiac finally got it all together as he won at New Smyrna on Thursday night. Ruggerio finished a close second but couldn't muster the little extra needed to take the win. Jeff Fuller won at Volusia over Cranmer and Winks. Ruggerio turned the tables on Friday night as he beat Jankowiac to the stripe for his fourth win of the series. Hedgecock won the series ending Richie Evans 100 on Saturday night. Jankowiac finished second and wrapped up the series title. Dale Earnhardt dominated the entire Daytona 500 on Sunday until it came to the final lap. Going into turn three, he had a tire go down and allowed Derike Cope to take home the win for Bob Witcomb.

Fifteen years ago in 1995, It rained at New Smyrna on Monday night. At the Daytona Speedway, Michael Waltrip took the pole for the Goodys 300.Dale Jarrett took the outside pole. Tuesday night at New Smyrna saw a new name in victory lane as Tim Connelly took the win over Mike Ewanitsko and Tom Baldwin. Just to show he was no flash in the pan; Connelly came back and won the next three in a row on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Reggie Ruggerio finished second on Wednesday and was followed by Eric Beers and Ewanitsko. Steve Park finished second on Thursday followed by Ted Christopher and on Friday, Ruggerio was second with Jamie Tomaino, third. At Daytona on Thursday, Sterling Marlin and Dale Earnhardt won the 125's.The Richie Evans 100 closed out the New Smyrna series on Saturday night. Steve Park took the win over Baldwin, Tom Cravenho and Beers. Connolly finished 14th and wrapped up the series championship. Connolly drove the Bob Fuller No.17. At Daytona, Chad Little came from a 42nd provisional spot to take the win. Steve Grissom, who was leading when Little went by, lifted, triggering a big wreck. Michael Waltrip finished second. Sterling Marlin beat out Dale Earnhardt to win the Daytona 500.

Ten years ago in 2000, rain washed out the action at New Smyrna on Monday night. On Tuesday, Ted Christopher picked up where he left off as he recorded his third win of the series. Charlie Pasteryak finished second with Jamie Tomaino and Mike Ewanitsko following. On Wednesday night, Christopher and Mike Ewanitsko in Joe Brady team cars finished one-two. Eric Beers, Jamie Tomaino and Doug French rounded out the top five. Usually the 125-mile Daytona 500-mile qualifiers are the best events of the week at Daytona but in 2000 they produced little competition and no passing, turning the events into a bore. Thursday night at New Smyrna saw Christopher continue his win streak in spite of constant pressure from Jamie Tomaino and Junior Handley. Friday at Daytona saw one of the most violent wrecks ever seen at the 2-1/2 mile oval when Geoff Bodine all but destroyed his truck in a bone jarring wreck that had everyone holding their breath. Bodine suffered a broken wrist and a broken toe plus numerous scrapes. Junior Handley ended Christopher’s win streak on Friday night as he went pole to pole to take the win at New Smyrna over Tomaino, David Berghman, Doug French and Christopher. At Daytona on Saturday, Matt Kenneth won the Busch Grandnational Goodys 300.Christopher and Ewanitsko ran one-two in the Richie Evans Memorial 100.Handley finished third and was followed by Jim Willis, Berghman, George Bock, Eric Beers and Bobby Santos III. Christopher was awarded the series championship. At the Daytona 500, Dale Jarrett passed Johnny Benson with two laps to go to win his third Daytona 500 Jeff Burton finished second with Bill Elliott, third.

Five years ago in 2005, after having Sunday night off the Modifieds and SK Modifieds returned to the high banks at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida on Monday night. Ted Christopher led the 22 car starting field to the green in the 25 lap Modified feature. Christopher led the entire distance to record his second win. Don Lia, who had been having handling problems, got it all together and spent the closing moments of the race beating on Christopher’s rear bumper. Christopher sealed his fate when he caught Lia sleeping on a restart with two laps to go. Chuck Hossfeld finished third with Zach Sylvester and Eric Beers rounding out the top five. Among the night’s casualties was Jonothan McKennedy who took a hard shot into the wall just after he finished seventh. His Michael Boehler owned No. 34 sustained considerable damage from the impact and had to be towed from the scene. Tim Arre, driving the Connecticut based Bear Motorsports No.14 continued to have bad luck as he was forced to retire early in the event and ended up in 20th spot. In the SK Modified feature Mike Holdredge was headed for victory until Chris Jones rode him up and out of the racing groove in the closing moments. This incident opened the door to Tim Arre who went on to take the win. The Super Late Models enjoyed a night off.

Ted Christopher scored a one-two punch in World Series action at New Smyrna on Tuesday night as he won not only the Modified feature but the Super Late Model feature as well.. Thirty seven Modifieds including 15 SKs were on hand. It looked like Don Lia had finally shaken off the bad luck that has plagued him in Florida as he took the lead in the Modified 25 lap feature on the first lap from Charlie Pasteryak. His bubble burst on lap 10 when a transmission malfunction forced him out of the event, handing the lead to Christopher. Kevin Goodale had his best run to date in the series as he finished second. Zach Sylvester finished a solid third with Eric Beers, fourth. Riverhead Raceway hot shoe JR Bertuccio replaced Tim Arre in the Bear Motorsports No. 14 and recorded a fifth in his first outing. Chuck Hossfeld finished sixth with Charlie Pasteryak, seventh. Christopher, who is on the cover of the latest issue of Speedway Illustrated, started on the pole and led every lap of the Super Late Model feature. One of the biggest wrecks in the history of the speedway occurred during the event when Ryan Mathews got launched into the catch fence on the front chute when he rode over second place runner David Rogers. After tearing up the catch fence Mathews flipped high in the air and went end over end past the starters stand and landed almost to the entrance of turn one. Mathews escaped with minor bumps and bruises but the event was red-flagged for an extended period while the fence was repaired.

The temperatures and competition heated up last Wednesday night as the Modifieds at New Smyrna went 50 laps. The heat was on as temps hit the low 80’s during the day and Ted Christopher remained hot at night as he made it four out of five in World Series competition. Eddie Flemke and the Hill’s Enterprises team joined the mix as a full field of 24 Modifieds went to post for their first extra distance event. Kevin Goodale, who qualified seventh, drew the pole and led the charge to the green flag. The first caution period of the night came on lap 2 when JR Bertuccio had the misfortune of having his Bear Motorsports No.14 catch fire as he came to a halt on the backstretch. The field no sooner took the green flag when Eddie Flemke came to a grinding halt in turn three. It appeared that Flemke had a right rear tire blow out which turned him into the unforgiving concrete wall. Flemke’s car sustained heavy damage including having the right front suspension torn off. Caution no.3 came on lap five when Goodale got a little over excited while leading the restart and spun. Also collected were Jeff Malave, Andy Seuss and Jonathan McKennedy. Christopher inherited the lead and was untouchable for the rest of the distance as he captured his fourth win of the series. Chuck Hossfeld finished second with Eric Beers, third. Rounding out the top five were Charlie Pasteryak and Curtis Truex JR. Don Lia continued to have problems as his car came to a halt in a cloud of smoke on the 17th lap. Eric Beers was the SK Modified winner with Chris Jones, second.
 
A new winner emerged in Modified competition on Thursday night as Riverhead, Long Islands’ Kevin Goodale won his first ever Modified feature. Goodale started on the outside of pole sitter Zach Sylvester. Shortly after Sylvester led the charge to the green in the 25 lap feature he spun between turns one and two. Goodale assumed the lead and never looked back as he sprinted to victory ahead of Ted Christopher and Eric Beers. Sylvester restarted in the rear but was never a factor as he finished 12th in the final rundown. Don Lia and Andy Seuss rounded out the top five. Ed Flemke made it back as he finished behind sixth and seventh place finishers Chuck Hossfeld and Charlie Pasteryak. With the exception of a delay caused when a Sportsman car took out 100 feet of fence on the backstretch it was a relatively quiet night. Among the missing were JR Bertuccio and the Bear Motorsports No.14 who called it a week as they were out of motors. Steve Reed was the SK Modified winner over Eric Beers and Dave Michael.
 
Don Lia, who had less than a satisfying week at New Smyrna, more than made up for it as he won the Friday night Richie Evans Memorial 100. Lia was the top qualifier and started on the pole. Lia was the class of the field until pitting under caution at the half way mark for fresh tires. Chuck Hossfeld, who started second, elected to stay out and assumed the lead with Kevin Goodale in tow. Hossfeld was planning on going non-stop until his tires started giving out shortly after the 75 lap mark. Hossfeld was hoping to hang on but to no avail as he was forced to pit with victory in sight with ten laps to go. Lia had sliced his way to the front and took over the top spot on lap 91 and went on to take the victory. Goodale finished second. Hossfeld made a determined charge after restarting in the rear of the field and managed to salvage a third place finish at the end. Charlie Pasteryak and Curtis Truex Jr. rounded out the top five. Ted Christopher had one problem after another. After starting sixth, Christopher worked his way up to the runner-up spot before he pitted with the leaders at the half way mark. After numerous pit stops the defending Stafford Speedway champ worked his way back to fourth spot only to spin out of contention on lap 97. He ended up 8th in the final rundown. Despite a hard wreck in practice Eddie Flemke had one of the fastest cars in the field. After starting 11th Flemke worked his way into the top five by lap 24 only to tangle with Goodale and spin. After pitting at half way Flemke came back to close in on Jeff Malave who was running fourth at the time and was able to make the pass. Flemke and Lia battled for position. On lap 68 contact was made and Flemke spun to the infield and was hit by Jonathan McKennedy who also hit Zach Sylvester. All three were done for the night. Chris Jones was the SK Modified winner over Steve Reed and Dave Michael.
 
Chuck Hossfeld won the final battle of the 2005 World Series of Asphalt Modified racing at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida but it was Ted Christopher who won the war as he wrapped up the Modified series championship for himself and car owner Joe Brady. In the night’s 25 lap feature Charlie Pasteryak led the pack to the starting green with Chuck Hossfeld in hot pursuit. Andy Seuss spun on the front chute. Before the caution came out Hossfeld had taken the lead from Pasteryak. Pasteryak got hung out to dry after a gentle nudge by Christopher. By the half way mark Hossfeld continued to lead with Don Lia moving into the runner-up spot. Curtis Truex had been running in second spot but he had gotten shuffled back to fifth spot. Truex’s night came to an end on lap 14 when he hit the turn 2 wall after an encounter with Christopher. Following Hossfeld at the finish were Lia, Eric Beers, Zach Sylvester, Christopher, Kevin Goodale and Pasteryak. Steve Reed was the SK Modified winner. In addition to winning the Modified title Christopher finished fourth in the Super Late Model standings. Louis Mechalides took the Super Late Model title.

Tony Stewart won the Hershey’s Take 5 300 Busch Series race in spectacular fashion. Not only did he avoid trouble on lap 95 when he drove through the grass in Turn 1 and then simply drove right back onto the banking into traffic, but he also came from 17th place in the closing laps for the win on Saturday at the Daytona International Speedway. Kevin Harvick finished second, with Dale Earnhardt Jr., defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne rounding out the top five. Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Reed Sorenson ran with the leaders most of the day and finished ninth. Fellow rookie Carl Edwards (10th place) was the only other NASCAR Busch Series regular to finish in the top 10. Jeff Gordon came out on top to win his third Daytona 500. The four-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion grabbed the lead from Dale Earnhardt Jr. with three laps to go, then held off the defending race winner during the final three-lap dash to the finish.

For the second year in a row, Tony Stewart led the most laps and was in position to take his first win in the "Great American Race," but was shuffled back through the pack when Earnhardt passed him with five laps to go, eventually winding up seventh at the finish line. Kurt Busch pressured Gordon as the finish but had to settle for second, while Earnhardt took third. Scott Riggs garnered an impressive fourth-place finish while Gordon's teammate, Jimmie Johnson, finished fifth.

Last year, 2009, after having Sunday off to repair and refresh some of the tour type and SK type Modifieds that were damaged in the first two nights of the World Series at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida a near full field was on hand. Among those on hand for race #3 was Sprint Cup star Ryan Newman. Ted Christopher beat out Newman at Loudon in 2008. Newman redeemed himself at New Smyrna on Monday night. The closing laps saw numerous lead changes between the two and in the end at the checkered flag it was Newman in for the win by inches. Christopher finished second and was followed by Eric Goodale, John Jensen and Jon McKennedy. Jimmy Blewett made it three in a row in SK type Modified competition Eric Goodale and Ted Christopher led the 23 car field down for the start of the night’s 25 lap feature. Before one lap was completed Christopher had taken the lead. Matt Hirschman slowed immediately in what was suspected to be transmission problems. A big wreck on the seventh lap collected Ryan Preece, Chuck Hossfeld, Bobby Grigas, III, Jon McKennedy, Jimmy Blewett, Louie Mechalides, Richard Savory and Eric Goodale. Christopher continued to survive several restarts while Goodale slipped a bit, which opened a door for Newman. Newman dogged the defending NASCAR champion until the closing laps when he blew him away with an outside pass on a restart.

When Jimmy Blewett took the checkered flag in the SK type Modified 15 lapper it was almost 12:30am on Tuesday morning. Frank Ruocco, Jimmy Zacharis and David Cranmer rounded out the top five. Those five were the only drivers who finished the race.

Ted Christopher ended his World Series dry spell on Tuesday night as he won the Tour type Modified 25 lap feature. Jimmy Blewett remained unbeatable in the SK type Modifieds as he went pole to pole to record his fourth feature win in the division.

Monday night’s winner Ryan Newman started on the pole of the Modified feature with Jimmy Blewett on the outside. Blewett jumped into the lead at the start. Newman faded a bit as Christopher, who started third, moved into the runner-up spot. By the eighth lap Christopher had moved into the lead. Newman continued to fade as Chuck Hossfeld moved into the third position. In what looked to becoming a non-stop event changed quickly as Eric Goodale, Matt Hirschman and Ryan Preece wrecked together in turn four on the 16th lap. Once the cars and debris was cleared the feature went non-stop from there. Blewett had nothing for Christopher and was forced to settle for second. Hossfeld ended up third with Ronnie Silk, fourth. It was the first night of competition for Silk and the Roger Hill Race Team. Jon McKennedy rounded out the top five. Ryan Newman rebounded from a pit stop on lap 16 to finish sixth.

Following Blewett in the SK type Modified feature were Bobby Grigas, III, Frank Ruocco, David Cranmer and Ron Schultz. The event was cut two laps short when Jimmy Zacharias, Eric Goodale and Wayne Arute were all involved in grinding crash on the front stretch. Arute got the worst of it, hitting the wall head-on. He exited the car uninjured, but his car suffered heavy damage.

The tour type Modifieds at New Smyrna ran the 50 lap John Blewett III Memorial 50 lapper on Wednesday night. Ronnie Silk, in his second night of competition, took the win over Ted Christopher, Matt Hirschman, Jimmy Blewett and Eric Goodale. Jimmy Blewett made it five in a row in SK type Modified competition.

Early in the evening Louie Mechalides replaced Frank Ruocco in the Bear Motorsports No. 14. Ruocco picked up a ride in the Joe Brady back-up car. Chuck Hossfeld drew the pole starting spot and took the lead at the start. By the second lap Silk had closed on the leader and was applying the heat. Hossfeld got a slight reprieve when Mechalides spun in turn two, bringing out the caution. Shortly after the field restarted Hirschman brought out the caution when he spun on the front stretch, hitting the water barrels that guard pit road. Hirschman was able to drive away and rejoin the field. Hossfeld led until lap 11 when he gave way to a determined Silk. The caution flew again on lap 23 for Shelly Perry who spun on the back stretch and for Steve Witt who hit the wall at the start-finish line. On the restart, Hossfeld, who had been running second, faded. Eric Goodale moved into the runner-up spot. At just about the same time Richard Savory’s engine dumped its innards in a billow of smoke. Following a realignment of the field Silk jumped out to a sizeable lead with Goodale, Ryan Preece, Bob Grigas and Hossfeld in tow.

On lap 46, Ryan Preece had a run on Eric Goodale for second place on the backstretch. Preece pulled out and Goodale threw a block on him. The pair made contact and Goodale went spinning down low. Preece made it to the end of the straightway when his right rear tire went down. He then slid up into Chuck Hossfeld, who impacted the outside wall in turn three. Preece drove away and pitted for a new tire. Goodale also drove away and pitted. Hossfeld was hauled off by a wrecker. On the restart Silk led Grigas, Christopher, Ruocco and Hirschman. Grigas got a little over excited as he went high on the track and gave way to Christopher. In the end, Christopher had nothing for Silk. Christopher settled for second with Hirschman, third. Jimmy Blewett and Eric Goodale rounded out the top five. Grigas ended up in sixth spot and Preece in eighth.

Finishing behind Blewett in the Wednesday night SK type event was Frank Ruocco, Brad Van Hooten, Tommy Farrell and Jimmy Zacharias.

In tour type Modified action on Thursday night Ted Christopher scored his second victory of the series. Jimmy Blewett continued to dominate in the SK types as he made it six in a row. Despite the fact that usually by Thursday there had been thousands of race fans in the Daytona-New Smyrna area the crowds were down to say the least. At New Smyrna the grandstands were less than half full and at Daytona where usually the Sprint Cup Duals are near a sell out there were considerable empty seats observed.

In the Modified 25 lapper, Christopher started from the pole and jumped out to an early lead at the start over Chuck Hossfeld, Matt Hirschman, Jimmy Blewett and Bobby Grigas, III. The first caution of the race fell on lap 3 when Frank Ruocco, driving the Joe Brady back-up, hit the second turn wall near the beginning of the backstretch. Christopher led the restart and was followed by Hossfeld, Ronnie Silk, Blewett, Grigas and Hirschman who had faded since the start. Silk, who was looking to make it two in a row, took over the runner-up spot on lap 10 after getting by Hossfeld on the low side. The caution flew again on lap 14, this time for John Jensen who had come to a stop on the front stretch. Once the field went back to green Silk turned up the heat on the backside of the leader. On lap 17 Silk took the lead in a somewhat rough way. Christopher returned the favor on lap 22 as he re-took the lead. Grigas followed as Silk slipped to third. Christopher held on for the win and was followed by Grigas, Silk, Hirschman, Hossfeld, Blewett, Eric Goodale, Rob Fuller, Jon McKennedy and Kevin Goodale.

In SK type competition Blewett took the lead from Frank Ruocco on lap 3 and that’s the name of that tune!

The Richie Evans Memorial 100 was the main attraction at New Smyrna on Friday night. Each year the New Smyrna Speedway honors the fallen Champion and icon to the sport of open wheeled Modified Racing. The RE 100 was the most exciting event of the week and kept the near capacity crowd on its feet for most of the event. Ted Christopher was the eventual winner after trading the lead close to ten times with Ronnie Silk. Temperatures were in the high 50’s-low 60’s at race time.

Jimmy Blewett took the lead on the start with Silk on his rear bumper. Silk passed Blewett for the lead on lap 3. The first caution of the evening flew on lap 11 for Shelly Perry who spun in turn 4. The restart was aborted when Vinnie Annarummo spun by himself. Annarummo was driving the Joe Brady back-up.

A strange thing happened on lap 11. Danny Marcello arrived at the track and was allowed to join the event. That was a dumb move by who ever made that decision as he could have wrecked half the field with an untested car. Marcello was black flagged for not getting up to speed. A big logjam took place on the restart. Several cars got together on the front stretch as the green flag came out. Those involved include Kevin Goodale, Chuck Hossfeld, JR Bertuccio, Rob Fuller, Ted Christopher, Jimmy Blewett, Jon McKennedy and Ryan Preece. The field returned to green flag conditions. All continued except Blewett as his car was sidelined with rear end problems. The caution flew again on lap 28. Butch Perry spun. Among those who pitted were Christopher, Chuck Hossfeld and Ryan Preece. Silk continued to lead as the field went back to green. At the halfway point, it was Silk, Bobby Grigas, Eric Goodale, Hirschman, Andy Seuss, John Jensen, Kevin Goodale, JR Bertuccio, Ted Christopher and Peter Jarvis. Butch Perry spun again on lap 53. Silk and most of the front runners pitted. Eric Goodale inherited the lead on the restart. With 13 cars left running Jensen pulled Goodale on the restart. Christopher stormed his way to the front and on lap 60 took the lead. Grigas and Silk came with him into second and third as Jensen dropped to fourth. At lap 67 the racing was at a fever pitch. Silk made bonsai move on the low side of Christopher to take the lead. Not one to take it sitting down, Christopher rose to the occasion on lap 69 to retake the top spot. At lap 77, Silk passed Christopher again for the lead. Christopher tried a crossover move to retake the lead, but it didn't work. The caution flew again on lap 79 for the Perry’s who wrecked each other. Silk and Christopher served up a see-saw battle for the lead. Christopher took the lead for the final time on lap 96. Following Christopher at the finish was Silk, Grigas, Hirschman, Kevin Goodale and Chuck Hossfeld.

Jimmy Blewett made it seven in a row in the SK type Modifieds. Kevin Goodale was second, Tom Ferrall, Jimmy Zacharias, and Rob Schultz rounded out the top five.

Saturday night was pretty much a lame duck session for the Modifieds and the SK types. Ted Christopher had already sewed up the tour type Modified Championship and Jimmy Blewett, the SK types.

With only 17 tour type Modifieds left for the final night Ted Christopher made it three in a row and four for the week in World Series competition at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida. Christopher’s main competition Ronnie Silk was on his way home to Connecticut as the Roger Hill Race Team headed for North Carolina. Jimmy Blewett completed a perfect week of SK type Modified racing as he went eight for eight.

Matt Hirschman and Bobby Grigas brought the field down for the start. Christopher started fifth. Once on the backstretch the front runners went three wide. Grigas, who had a tire getting soft and JR Bertuccio made contact. Both hit the wall a ton and in the process collected Jimmy Blewett, Hirschman, Kevin Goodale and Darwin Green. Bertuccio took out his frustrations on Grigas with a barrage of foul language, punches and kicks aimed at Grigas even though the culprit was a leaking tire! Eric Goodale led the restart with Christopher, second. By lap 5 Andy Seuss had moved into second spot after starting in seventh spot. Seuss was able to get close but was unable to make a move on Christopher. At the finish, Christopher took the win. Eric Goodale beat Seuss by a whisker for the runner up spot. Seuss settled for third. Jon McKennedy and Hirschman rounded out the top five.

In NASCAR action at the Daytona International Speedway Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch were the winners of the Thursday Gatorade Dual 150 mile Daytona 500 qualifying races. Gordon, ended the longest winless drought of his career by winning the first duel. Busch also made an overdue return to Victory Lane, where he was a frequent visitor in 2008 before tailing off when the championship was on the line. Busch won eight races and led the Cup standings most of the season, but started to falter in August and fell apart when the Chase for the championship began.

Tony Stewart held off a last-lap challenge from Kyle Busch to win the Nationwide race Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Stewart passed 23 cars in 11 laps to get back into contention after pitting with 30 laps to go in the 120-lap Camping World 300, then hung onto the lead as Busch, Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer fought for position. Brad Keselowski led several times and appeared to be one of the cars to beat, but he banged off the wall on lap 108. Two laps later, his right rear tire blew, bringing out the last of six caution flags and setting up the dash to the finish. Edwards led at that point, but Stewart, with help from Chevy driver Bowyer, pushed past into the lead after the restart on lap 114.As the laps wound down, Stewart seemed to be a sitting duck, especially after Busch, who won 10 Nationwide races last year, moved into second place three laps from the end. On the final trip around the 2.5-mile oval, Busch moved up to Stewart's rear bumper and gave him a nudge. Stewart's car wobbled and drifted high as Busch's Toyota moved nearly alongside. But, somehow, Stewart stayed just ahead of Busch. Then Edwards and defending series champion Bowyer went to the outside to pass Busch.

Matt Kenseth drove from the back of the field to take the Daytona 500 lead minutes before the sky opened up, handing the former series champion his first victory in NASCAR’s version of the Super Bowl.

Coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, Kenseth’s bad luck followed him into Daytona International Speedway. He wrecked his primary car, had to go to a backup and started Sunday’s race in last place. But As Rain Closed In On The Season-Opening Event, The Field Turned It Up A Notch, anticipating the race would not go the distance. Kenseth used a huge push from Kevin Harvick to pass Elliott Sadler with 54 laps to go. Caution came out moments later for an accident started by Paul Menard, and the rain that had been threatening all day finally arrived. NASCAR stopped the race two laps later, and the cars were called to pit road. Some drivers climbed from their cars to await NASCAR’s decision on whether to restart the race, but Kenseth sat patiently inside his parked Ford on pit road. When NASCAR declared it over, the 2003 Cup champion tearfully climbed from his car to celebrate his victory, which snapped a 36-race winless streak. It was also the first Daytona 500 win for team owner Jack Roush. Kevin Harvick, who used a push from Kenseth to win the 500 in 2007, finished second. AJ Allmendinger, who had to race his way into the field in one of Thursday’s qualifiers, finished third. Clint Bowyer was fourth and Sadler was fifth, devastated he lost the lead moments before the rain stopped the race.
 

This week are several vintage racing photos of NEAR Hall of Famer Billy Harman, courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & VintageModifieds.com.
Photos from the Billy Harman's Collection
Click on Photo for Full Size

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

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

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