AJ Curreli tops Goodyear Challenge Late Model 100 at New Smyrna Speedway
by Jane Smith
Samsula, FL (March 17, 2008) The Goodyear Challenge Late Model Series held it's opening race for the 2008 season last Satuday at New Smyrna Speedway. With twenty two cars in the field and a nice breeze in the air, fans saw AJ Curreli top the speed chart and draw the 0 pill to set the field for the night.
The fans were able to get up close to the drivers during the on-track autograph session but then it was time to race.
Curreli lead the way on the start but on lap 6, Chad Akins and Charles Kopach made contact bringing out the first caution of the night. On the restart, Rookie-of-the-Year for 2007 Darren Brown was turned by Daniel Keene collecting George Morales who hit the inside retaining wall. Morales was unable to return to the field as Brown and Keene are sent to the rear for the restart.
As all first races go for the year, there are always mechanical problems that come unexpectively. Both Brian Palmiter and Jerry Symons saw that when on lap 24 both drivers were forced out of the with mechanical problems.
Lap 29 once again sees the caution come out for Dewayne Barrus who has spun. Joe Winchell heads to pit road as his car is having problems. The green comes back out once again on lap 32 as Curreli leads the way. Chad Akins, one of the new rookies of the 2008 season, has problems on lap 36 and must go to pit road for seven laps.
Caution comes out on lap 45 for Dewayne Barrus as he spins. At this time, Jeremy Colangelo goes to pit road and is unable to rejoin the field when the green comes back out on lap 48. Colangleo ends up going five laps down before his return to the field.
Charles Kopach makes contact with the backstretch wall on lap 48 and takes his car in for the night. No caution is needed as the field continues on. Joe Winchell also tries to once again join the field on lap 49 but immediately heads back to pit road. Joe gives it one more try but calls it a night on lap 52.
Lap 55 brings out the caution once again as Darren Brown and David Gibbs make contact going into turn one. At the same time as Brown and Gibbs make contact, Ray Black, Jr. makes contact with the backstretch wall coming to a halt in turn three. Black retires for the night along with Earl Beckner who has mechanical problems with his car. The race is then red flagged for track cleanup as the EMTs check on Gibbs. Gibbs is fine and racing returns on lap 59.
Daniel Keene, who was sent to the rear of the field earlier in the race, has now worked his way back into the top five with Darren Brown also working his way back up the field. Alan Bruns, who has fought all night with his handling problems, now finds himself two laps down as the field goes by him.
Lap 79 sees Brad May leave the field with a broken rear end. On lap 90, Barrus brings out his third caution of the night after spinning between turns one and two and is sent in to the pits. Curreli, who has lead all 100 laps, takes the checkered followed by Daniel Keene, Jr., Jessica Murphy, Rich Clouser and Darren Brown.
Alexis Fenton, under the coaching of Tim Russell, did a great job for her first time at the track. Jessica Murphy did a good job of racing also after suffering heavy contact on the backstretch wall during the race. Chuck Abell had a great showing starting fourth and maintaining thru the race to finish sixth. Rich Clouser did a great job of sportsmanship as he and Jessica Murphy raced for third. Clouser would get under her but would back out so as not to take her out as they battled for third. Greg Kaouk was unable to make the show due to clutch problems.
The next race for the Goodyear Challenge Late Model Series will be at Columbia Motorsports Park on April 5th. Drivers towing to Columbia for the race will receive 50 extra points for Columbia.
For more information on the Goodyear Challenge Late Model Series go to www.fascartours.com.
GOODYEAR CHALLENGE LATE MODEL 100
POS Driver Car#
1 AJ Curelli 2
2 Daniel Keene Jr 5
3 Jessica Murphy 26
4 Rich Clouser 9
5 Darren Brown 53
6 Chuck Abel 19
7 Austin Kirpatrick 61
8 Alan Bruns 4b
9 Alexis Fenton 11
10 Jeremy Colangelo 05
11 Dewayne Barrus 33
12 Brad May 10
13 Chad Akins 60
14 Earl Beckner 36
15 Davey Gibbs 47
16 Ray Black Jr 19x
17 Charles Kopach 01
18 Joe Winchell 57
19 Brennan Palmiter 27
20 Jerry Symons 1
21 George Morales 96
22 Greg Kaouk 31
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