BRANDON MORRIS TOPS SPORTSMAN 50 - WINS FOR MAY, TUCKER & KING AT NEW SMYRNA SPEEDWAY
SERGI, THOMAS & TUCKER CROWNED 2015 CHAMPIONS
It was a beautiful Saturday night for racing as New Smyrna Speedway hosted the next to last week of action for the 2015 NASCAR Whelen All-American Racing Series on Whelen Engineering night with three track champions being decided by the end of the night.
The big event of the evening was a 50-lap run for the Sportsman cars for their final point race of the season. Nineteen cars were on hand to do battle but it was Lake Mary’s Todd Allen the absolute class of the field in qualifying as he turned a quick lap of 19.262 seconds in his Discount Propane special. Allen’s lap was over half a second quicker than second fast Kody Jett of Middleburg who toured the half-mile at 19.811 seconds. Patrick Thomas, again driving the Harris Oil/Harris Mini Storage #111 car, was third fastest at 19.833 followed by Junior Beckner and Austin Howell. Howell’s team found a problem with their car after time trials and did not start the feature along with Mike Watson who broke in practice.
The top seven cars from qualifying were inverted for the start of the 50-lapper placing Derrick Wood on the pole with Brandon Morris outside. Morris quickly grabbed the early lead but, off turn four on the opening lap, the cars of Beckner and Timmy Todd, Jr. made contact with Todd hitting the wall hard. Todd was out while Beckner continued with minimal damage.
Track officials ordered a complete restart and again Morris took the early advantage. Allen quickly moved up from his seventh starting spot and zipped by Morris to take the point on lap seven. Four laps later the engine of Ron Gustafson’s car exploded in a cloud of smoke going into turn three. Phillip Bessette spun in the oil and tapped the wall but was able to re-enter the race after some attention from his crew.
On the restart, Allen simply drove away and hid from the field as Thomas moved up to challenge Morris for second. Suddenly, on lap 18, Todd’s car slowed on the back stretch and he coasted to pit road with a problem eventually determined to be a faulty distributor. From that point it became a wild two car battle between Morris and Thomas. Thomas was able to draw alongside going into the turns but just did not have the handling on the low side of the track to beat Morris off the corners. The final caution of the race came out on lap 30 as Austin Carr stalled his mount in turn three. Following the restart, on lap 32, Beckner got by Wood for third and began to set his sights on the leaders but he did not have enough time to mount a challenge as the rest of the race ran to the checker under green.
Thomas took one last shot at Morris coming off turn four headed to the checker and the two cars touched. Thomas backed off and allowed Morris to regain control as the the Mulberry driver took his first win of the year here. Thomas took second which was easily good enough for him to earn the 2015 Sportsman championship at New Smyrna Speedway to go along with his NASCAR Division III national title. Overall Thomas visited victory lane 11 times this year. Beckner came home third and took second in the points while Wood finished fourth and rookie R. J. Glaser scored his best finish of the year in fifth. Cars out of the Sheppard Racing Enterprises shop in Deland owned by Sandy Lee and Jim Daley (who is recovering from recent heart bypass surgery) took the fourth through eighth spots with the aforementioned Wood and Glaser topping teammates Matt Jarrett, D. J. Farr and Lee. Ninth went to Butch Carr, Sr. who was the last car still running at the end while grandson Austin Carr was scored tenth. Rounding out the finishers were Allen, Gustafson, Mike Dahm, Kody Jett (whose fast car fell out early), George Dahm and Todd.
A short field of cars played into Anthony Sergi’s hand as he was going for the track Super Late Model title. Driving a back-up car after his primary machine was badly damaged in the recent Marion Edwards, Jr. Memorial, Sergi knew all he had to do was keep second place Brad May in his sights and he would claim the championship.
May and Bakersfield, CA driver Derek Thorn, who was driving for owner Kurt Jett, made up row one for the start and it was Thorn grabbing the early advantage with May right on his bumper. The only caution of the race would fly at the end of the opening lap as J. D. Hicks spun off turn two then climbed up on the inside back stretch wall. Hicks was OK but his car was done for the night.
On the restart, Thorn again got the advantage as May settled into second. The pair continued to dice for the lead lap after lap with David Rogers not far behind in third. May was trying every trick in the book but being thwarted by Thorn each and every time until May finally got the run he needed off turn two on the white flag lap. May surged to the front and beat Thorn to the checker by a half car length for his third win of the season. An obviously upset Thorn drove right back to his pit stall forgetting that the top three finishers had to go directly to tech. Thus he was disqualified for the infraction moving Rogers up to second in the final run down. Sergi did just what he had to do and basically drove the entire race with no other cars near him and came home third, good enough to win the track championship over May by a mere two points. Fourth went to Michael Williams followed by Russ Shaw,Hicks and Thorn. Sean Bass did not start after problems in hot laps.
Tank Tucker came into the evening as scant two points in front of Jerry “The Hammer” Symons in the battle for the track Modified championship. Luck of the draw placed Tucker on the pole for the 25-lap feature while Symons lined up fifth.
The race itself would run green to checker with Tucker leading every lap for his sixth win of the year but it was a hard-fought victory as veteran Jimmy Britts, in another car out of the Kurt Jett shops, gave Tucker all he could handle before settling for second. Symons claimed third and saw his string of track titles broken by Tucker who claimed the Modified championship by just five points. Wayne Parker took fourth at the end trailed by Alan Bruns, Matt Wheeler, Mike Dahm and Greg Bruce, Jr.
The Bomber feature was a wild affair that saw Matt Boner lead the opening lap before being passed by newcomer Brian Miller. Shane Sutorus, driving the Saturn previously run here by Greg Bruce, Jr., got into the turn two wall hard to bring out the first caution. Miller continued to lead but was being challenged by James Skinner when the pair made contact in turn four on lap four. Miller was ruled at fault and went to the rear of the field. Skinner held the point until he spun on his own coming off turn two on the eighth lap handing the lead to Charlie King, Sr. Lap 12 saw Aaron Overman go for a spin courtesy of the bumper on Miller’s car. Miller was black-flagged for rough driving and Overman got his spot back.
From that point King drove away to claim his second win of the year while William Hindman drove his newly-built Honda to second with soon-to-be-crowned point champion Overman third. Boner took fourth trailed by Adam Soukup, Miller, Skinner, Billy Barrington and Sutorus.
Jim Jones winner Photos:
- Sportsman 50 winner Brandon Morris
- Super Late Model winner Brad May
- Modified feature winner and track champion Tank Tucker
- Bomber winner Charlie King, Sr.