New Smyrna Speedway Race Recap for 4/2/15


Race fans were treated to some awesome racing Saturday night under perfect
early May weather and a full moon that produced some controversy along with a
couple of scary moments as New Smyrna Speedway hosted week eight of the NASCAR
Whelen All-American Series.
Once again the Sportsman class was out in force with 19 machines checking in
to do battle. Junior Beckner of Apopka, in a tight battle for points, had his
#71 go south on him in practice so he borrowed the car of Timmy Todd, Jr.,
changed the number, and entered the events in his “back-up.” Heat race action
saw victories going to Austin Howell and Donny Williams as Williams’ car was
back and running well despite a big crash two weeks ago. The re-draw placed
Williams sixth at the start of the 25 lap feature with Howell starting seventh
while Ron Gustafson and Mike Pletka made up the front row starters.
On the initial green, third-starting Richard Goodrich spun going into turn one
with the field doing a great job to avoid the “big one” early. Justin Starr,
Pletka and Derrick Wood also spun avoiding the mess but R. J. Glaser tagged
the wall trying to miss Goodrich and damaged his car too much to continue.
The second attempt at getting the race under way went much better as Gustafson
jumped out to an early lead with a snarling pack of angry cars behind him.
Goodrich shook off his earlier miscue to snare the point on lap three but the
driver on the charge was Orlando’s Patrick Thomas who was going for his third
straight win in the class. Thomas, who started the event in fifth, zoomed by
into the lead on lap five as the rest of the field continued to run in tight
formation behind him.
On lap 11, Wood and Starr touched coming down the front stretch while fighting
for a spot in the top five. Starr’s car shot up the track and hit the wall
hard. Starr’s racer, with no steering, a stuck throttle and on fire to boot,
slammed again into the turn one wall before coming to a rest up high mid-way
through the first two corners. The on-board extinguisher did its job keeping
the flames off Starr long enough for him to exit his machine under his own
power. Track crews quickly got the fire out as Starr sat down on the banking
with the wind obviously knocked out of him. After a couple of minutes Starr
got to his feet as the crowd applauded. Starr posted the following day that
he was a “little bit sore” but otherwise OK after the scariest incident so far
this season here.
Following the restart, Thomas just drove away again from yet another quality
field driving a car he described as being “on rails.” Thomas indicated in
victory lane that he plans to make each and every Sportsman race this year
(“something I’ve never done before”) and try to wrest the championship away
from Williams.
Howell kept Thomas in sight late in the going but had nothing for the eventual
victor and settled for the runner-up spot while Williams claimed third over an
impressive Steve Barnes who came from dead last on the grid after failing
post-race inspection following his heat. Fifth went to New Hampshire visitor
Sandy Lee, the first of four cars entered by Sheppard Racing Enterprises on
the night. Lee plans to fly down every time the Sportsman run this year and
compete for the point championship. Wood, driving another Sheppard/Jim Daley
entry, took sixth ahead of Phillip Bessette (making his first start of the
season) and Beckner in his borrowed ride. Pletka claimed the ninth spot ahead
of Gustafson and young Michael Held who scored an 11th place effort in his
very first start in a Sportsman car.
Rounding out the finishers were Mike Dahm, Brandon Christian, Goodrich (who
fell out after a solid early run), Starr, George Dahm, Glaser and Garrett Hill
whose car lost power on the pace lap.
The Modified feature would end up being quite a show and eventually produce
the most controversial finish of the year. After James “Tank” Tucker of New
Smyrna Beach ran off and hid in the heat race, the 25-lap main event had none
other than defending champion Jerry “The Hammer” Symons of New Smyrna on the
pole and most fans figured this one would be over at the drop of the green -
but not on this night.
Symons grabbed the early lead while some great racing took place behind him.
On lap six, Chad Pierce and Alan Bruns locked bumpers while racing for second
and both spun out coming off turn four. Bruns was deemed the “aggressor” and
placed at the back of the restart line-up while Pierce restarted in second.
As the race got back under way, Symons took off again while Tucker, who began
the race in the fifth starting position, slipped by Pierce for second on the
tenth lap just before Talon Craft spun and backed into the turn four wall on
lap eleven.
Although the supposed “Fight of the Century” between Floyd Mayweather and
Manny Pacheo was soon to get under way in Las Vegas, the fans now had Symons
as the leader and Tucker in second for the restart. Regulars at New Smyrna
Speedway know that these two have a big history including several altercations
that took place during the recent World Series in February and did not have to
pay $100 a head for the privilege of watching the epic continuation of their
Symons got the jump on the restart and looked to have the superior car… at
least for a few laps… before Tucker began to reel him in. With the race
going green the rest of the way, Tucker really began to put the pressure on in
the late laps. Going into turn three on the final lap, Tucker drilled the
back bumper of Symons but he held the low groove only to be hit hard again in
turn four. This time Symons could not hold on as he went spinning while
Tucker crossed the line to take the checker amid a chorus of boos from the
assembled crowd.
The fans continued to voice their displeasure as Tucker pulled into Hampton
Inn victory lane. After a brief discussion, track officials ruled it a
“racing incident” and Tucker’s victory was allowed to stand. Tucker stated
that he didn’t “like to win one like that” but said he gave Symons time to get
his car back under control. Symons thought otherwise but he took everything
with a grain of salt in his usual low-key manner although he spent plenty of
time with track officials discussing the incident after the races were over.
This will probably not be the last battle these two will have this year, so
stay tuned…
Lost in the confusion was the great run by Pierce, making his first start of
the year in David Debelius’ “Orange Crate” out of Orlando. Pierce took second
despite flat-spotted tires from his earlier spin, loss of a cylinder in the
engine late in the going along with fading brakes over the last few laps.
Bruns came back from his earlier penalty to take third in front of Bobby Blake
(out for the first time this year) and Matt Wheeler. Matt Jarrett was sixth
ahead of Jim Higginbotham while Symons was scored eighth ahead of Mike Dahm,
Craft and Matthew Green.
The Super Late Model field may have been short on cars but the competition was
incredible in their 35-lap contest. David Rogers was back with a vengeance
after a rough week at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola the previous weekend
that saw his new car receive significant damage. The TM Ranch team brought
out their “old” car and Rogers started from the outside pole and led the
opening six laps before Brad May took charge. May, one of the hottest drivers
at the track recently, was looking for his third straight win between Super
Late Model and Pro Late Model racing and looked to be well on his way to
another checkered flag until Cory Spencer looped his mount in turn four on lap
On the restart, May just did not seem to have the power he had earlier and
Rogers sped past back into the lead with Anthony Sergi following suit into
second on lap 15. Fans were definitely “pulling” for Rogers to end a winless
streak now dating back over a year as he built up a decent advantage mid-race.
However, Sergi had other ideas and he began to reel Rogers in finally
catching him with a handful of laps left.
Rogers was having trouble keeping his car down low and Sergi moved inside as
the pair battled for several laps, touching on occasion although the racing
was “clean.” Sergi finally made his pass stick as the white flag flew and the
19-year-old college freshman led the final pair of circuits to claim his
second win of the year. Although disappointed with a second place effort,
Rogers and his crew were happy with their run and finally feel that they are
close to getting back to their normal winning ways.
May held on to take third spot while 15-year-old Noah Cornman finally got his
new Super Late Model on track and his debut in the car produced a nice, solid
fourth place effort. Scott Bertram made his first start of the year and took
fifth ahead of Spencer and ageless John Kennedy.
Billy Barrington of Sanford dominated the Bomber racing winning both the heat
and feature in his Chevy Cavalier. Barrington, who only had experience on
dirt before coming to New Smyrna Speedway just three weeks ago, won in just
his third start on asphalt. Shane Sutorus finished second in his Saturn
station wagon as Barrington became the first driver to beat Sutorus this year
while the point leader was still running at the end of the race. Warren Howie
brought his big Chevy Caprice home third in front of James Skinner and Richard
Fiore, Jr. Rounding out the finishers were Aaron Overman, Greg Bruce, Robert
Skinner and Travis Soukup.
This coming Saturday night, May 9th, all moms get in FREE in honor of Mother’s
Day! Come early for the pre-race party from 6 - 7 pm with live music, $1
beers, and half-price bar menu. Racing starts at 7:30 with the Pro Late
Models, Sunshine Seamless Gutters Mini Stocks, Super Stocks, and Bombers in
action. Show mom how much you care and bring her for a night of fun at New
Smyrna Speedway.

Winner Photos by Jim Jones:

  1. Sportsman winner Patrick Thomas…
  2. Super LM winner Anthony Sergi…
  3. Modified winner Tank Tucker…
  4. First-time Bomber winner Billy Barrington…

Three Sportsman wins in a row for nice guy Patrick Thomas (Jim Jones Photo).jpg

Anthony Sergi claimed his second Super Late Model win (Jim Jones Photo).jpg

Tank Tucker took the controversial Modified win (Jim Jones Photo).jpg

Billy Barrington was a first-time winner in the Bombers (Jim Jones Photo).jpg

Hey ancrdave, me thinks this was the 5-2-15 race… Not 4-2…
That’s ok, just s senior moment…:ohmy:
-Ge Um-

I fixed it…