Jr Hanley Wins Final Race But "Mr. Excitement" Is Crowned Champion
By Jane Smith (KNS) After seven nights (the Super Lates had Monday night off) of hard side by side racing, Jimmy Cope, "Mr. Excitement" to Florida race fans, was crowned the Champion of the Super Lates at New Smyrna Speedway and the 36th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. Cope won the first race last Friday, February 8, and has been in the top five most every night.
On the pole for the final and 100 lap race was Jr. Hanley's #66. Hanley, the winner of five races, proved to all the drivers and the fans that he is definitely one of the top short track racers in the country. Night after night, he worked his way to the front and maintained it. On the outside of Hanley was the #2x of Clay Rogers, also a well known racer. With 39 cars on the track for the 100 lapper, the start of the race was alittle hard. But it was not until lap 19 when #9 Jonathan Brown, while passing a lap car, gave the crowd a thrill. Brown's car seemed to lift up slightly and come back down with the #9 being towed in the pits and Brown okay. Brown was running tenth at the time.
After the track was cleared and checked, the green flew once again with Hanley still leading the way. Travis Kittleson #88 and Clay Rogers #2x were having their own side by side action as the #88 machine was working hard for that second place spot that the #2x had. Just as Kittleson takes second from Rogers, the yellow comes out for the #38 of Shane Sawyer who spins on lap 25. Clay Rogers gets back second position on the restart but it does not take Kittleson long to once again take it away putting Rogers in fourth and the #61 of Cope in third.
Lap 35 saw a pile up over in the bottom of turns 1 and 2. Jeff Sloan #31, #6b Jerome Brown, #60 Bob Eastwood and #74x Jody Turner were all involved. Sloan #31 was slightly run over but able to continue as well as the #6B of Brown. The track was cleared, the one to go was shown and we were green flag racing again.
Kittleson #88 charges Hanley #66 for the lead but Hanley, being the great racer he is, is not shaken but Kittleson remains right on his rear. Hanley and Kittleson pull away from the field leaving Cope #61 in third and no cars directly behind him. Clay Rogers, Louie Mechalides, David Rogers, Freddie Query and B.J. McLeod are now in an all out dog fight for position as the laps dwindle down.
Lap 56 the #30 of Richard Duecker hits the turn 1 and 2 wall but is not badly damaged. On the restart, David Rogers #11 takes over the fifth position as he puts the #47 Louie Mechalides to sixth. It is now Hanley, Kittleson, Cope, Clay Rogers, David Rogers, Mechalides, Query, McLeod, Powell and Willoughby. Cope does a little wiggle but is able to correct but the yellow comes out once again as the #7 of Erik Darnell does alittle 360 practice in turn 1 and 2. The field is started single file with Hanley still leading and Kittleson close behind. The #2x Clay Rogers and #61 Jimmy Cope are having their own battle and touch causing the #11 of David Rogers to go high in turns 3 and 4 losing his fifth place spot and ending up in ninth after saving his car.
In the meanwhile, the two lead cars of Hanley and Kittleson touch down in the bottom of turn 4 with both saving their cars. Clay Rogers #2x takes the 3rd position from #61 Cope.
Now the track is really hot and everyone is fighting hard as the #8 of Freddie Query seems to have a tire go down and ends up in the turn 4 wall. Query has not had the best of luck this year and every time it seemed that he was going to have a good finish, something happened. Query is towed off the track and the race is green once again. David Rogers is side by side #78 McLeod for the fifth position and does get it. Now it is Hanley, Kittleson, Clay Rogers, Cope and David Rogers.
Lap 90 on the board as the #12 of Justin Drawdy spins and the #53 as he spins to avoid hitting the #12. With ten laps to go, can Kittleson take Hanley??? Kittleson tried everything- high, low but could not pass the #66 of Hanley. Taking home the trophy for the 100 lapper was #66 Junior Hanley followed by #88 Travis Kittleson, #2x Clay Rogers, #11 David Rogers, #61 Jimmy Cope, #47 Louie Mechalides, #78 B.J. McLeod, #37 James Powell III, #74 Barry Willoughby, #82 Donnie Wilson, #137 Mike Franklin, Jr., #371 Larry Gelinas, #10 Donald Long and #6 Mac Johnson.
Open Wheel Modifieds
Jerry Symons #66 took home his eighth win of the nine nights of racing. Only one other driver won a race during the 9 nights and that was the #l of Stephen Johanneck. The #00 of Bobby Blake sat on the pole but it was the K1 of Mike Carroll who took the lead. Carroll maintained his lead until the caution came out for the #5x of Gery Artuso on lap 8. Artuso was fine but his car was slightly hot and on fire but the safety crew had it out in seconds. The #5x was towed in and the race was green once again. Symons quickly took the lead from Carroll who got shuffled back and ended up finishing seventh. The final positions were Symons, #2x Jason Boyd, #51 Dave Stacy, #00 Bobby Blake, #1A Andy Saffotti, #00x Brad May, #K1 Mike Carroll and #7 Mark Vandevender.
Late Models Jason Boyd #15 set the new World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing as he won all nine nights of Late Model action.
No one has ever done this before. Richie Evans won 8 times but Boyd is the only 9 times winner. Tonight Boyd won with the #38 of Kirk Hooker, #22 Larry Osteen, #26 Mike Murphy, #5x Gery Artuso, #5 Joey Miller, #25 Timmy Todd and #70 Rob Howard following him over the finishing line.
NASCAR TYPE MODIFIEDS The "thunder pounders, stand shakers" NASCAR Tour Type/ SK Mods saw the #26 of George Kent on the pole for their final race at New Smyrna Speedway for the 2002 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. With only one caution in their final feature, the excite- ment was never ending. Kent was able to hold his lead even with the #13 of Teddy Christopher constantly putting the nose of his machine under the bumper of Kent's. Night 9 gave George Kent #26 the final win as #13 Teddy Christopher, #19 Eric Beers, #00 John Blewitt, #32 Dave Bergman, #5 Charlie Pasteryak, #14 Robbie Summers, #99 Jamie Tomaino, #29 George Bach, and #2 JR Bertuccio followed Kent across the finish line. Robbie Summers #14 was crowned the Champion for the NASCAR Tour Type/SK Mods for the 2002 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
SUPER STOCKS Rich Clouser #8 Super Stock won both races for this division, taking the first win last Saturday, February 9 and the win on February 16. Clouser was able to take his #8 to the front and maintain his lead for his second win. Following Clouser across the finish line was #2 Ron Whaley, #08 Robert Skinner, #45 Mike Soukup, and #16 David Gould.
Nine nights of racing are over. It has been a challenge for all that came. Fed Ex, UPS, became a familiar site at the track as parts were delivered to the determined drivers to get a win. Cope, Boyd, Symons, Vulipus, and Clouser went home knowing that they had done their best as Champions of the 2002 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.