Brian Finney takes the checkered for First Leg of Triple Crown at USA International
by Jane Smith
Lakeland, FL (June 7, 2008) On a very hot June afternoon, twenty nine Super Lates came to USA International to try their luck to win the first leg of the Triple Crown. Qualifying at 3 in the afternoon meant it was a slick, hot track but everyone was ready to try their luck.
It was Tim Russell of Longwood, Florida who topped the speed chart with a fast 20.934. Second fastest was Jeremy Colangelo of Deland with a 20.975 followed by Travis Cope of Hernando with a 21.010, David Wilson of Sarasota with a 21.071 and Fain Skinner of Live Oak with a 21.087.
Russell cleared tech and came to pull his pill which was a 7 putting veteran racer Daryl Shelnut on the pole for the first leg. With Shelnut's car number being 7 and the pill 7, it looked like Shelnut would have a good race.
After an on-track autograph session with both the Sunbelt and Goodyear racers, it was time to go racing at 7:30. Fans waited to come right before the green flag flew to beat the afternoon heat of Lakeland but there was a very good crowd on hand for the annual event.
But the race did not go exactly as the drivers and fans had hoped when on the initial first lap, there was a yellow flag for Robert Yoho, Chris Staggs, and Seth Greco who all tangled up on the start in turns 1 and 2. All three went to pit road with Staggs unable to return to racing.
A complete restart was called for as Justin Larson took the point over Shelnut, Skinner, Wilson and Colangelo. But on lap 2, the race went red when Brad May took a wild, wild ride over the top of Fain Skinner rolling a few times down the track. Luckily May and Skinner were fine however the crowd was on their feet as it took a few minutes before May came out of his rolled over car. Out of the race for the night was David Rogers, Fain Skinner, Brad May and Tim Russell. Two laps were all that they got in.
The race goes back green as Justin Larson leads the way over Shelnut, Wilson, Travis Cope, and Patrick Conrad. Lap 4 sees Larson slow in turns 1 and 2 as the caution is thrown for his car. Larson goes to pit road where the crew goes to work and comes back out in the rear for the restart. Lap 7 sees the restart but it is a very short green as David Wilson has smoke from his car and the race goes back yellow again.
Lap 10 sees another restart with Daryl Shelnut on the point followed by Cope, Conrad, Matt Bowers and Brian Finney. Robert Yoho has problems on lap 12 and slowly makes his way into the pits, done for the day also. Lap 13 sees Wayne Anderson and Joe Boyd get together in turns 1 and 2 as Boyd does a great job of saving his car from the USA wall. But on lap 15, Boyd goes linto the pits also done for the night.
Lap 16 sees Shelnut, Cope, Conrad, Bowers, Finney, Stanley Smith, Dwayne Dempsey, David Pollen, Jr., Billy Mowery and Corey Freed leading the way. Finney puts pressure on Bowers for fourth but Bowers holds his position. But on lap 22, Finney is able to pass Bowers and take over fourth as Bowers goes to fifth. Lap 23 sees Wayne Anderson slow on the frontstrech as the yellow is thrown for him. Anderson is pushed onto pit road where the crew checks over the car and Anderson returns to the field. Restart lap 28 as Shelnut leads the way over Cope, Conrad, Finney and Bowers. Cope begins to put pressure on Shelnut for the point but Shelnut holds his position. But on lap 32, Cope is able to take over the point as Shelnut settles into second. It is now Cope, Shelnut, Conrad, Finney and Bowers. Lap 33 Finney passes Conrad for third as Conrad slides to fouth.
The caution comes out on lap 35 when Conrad hits the wall in the top of turn 3. It looks as though his tires has gone down and taken him directly into the wall. The EMTs are called to the car as Conrad may possibily have a broken hand. The car is towed into the pits as the race goes back green on lap 40 with 18 out of the 29 cars left in the field.
Cope continues to lead the way over Shelnut, Finney, Bowers, and Dempsey. Billy Mowery now has problems on lap 47 as he is off the pace on the frontstretch and takes his car into the pits, also done for the night. Cope in the meantime builds his lead over the field as David Pollen, Jr. and Stanly Smith are having their own duel over sixth. Smith, who is from Chelesa, AL, does a great job of holding off Pollen. Dempsey in the meantime puts pressure on Bowers but Bowers holds his position. Again Pollen challenges Smith and this time it works as Pollen takes over sixth and Smith goes to seventh. It is now Cope, Shelnut, Finney, Bowers, Dempsey, Pollen, Colangelo, Smith, Larson, Scofield, and Patrick Williams.
Dempsey puts pressure on Finney and takes over third as Finney goes to fourth. Just as the racing is HOT and HEAVY, the caution comes out on lap 73 for Dustin Henderson who has slowed on the backstretch. Henderson goes into the pits as the race goes back green on lap 79 with 17 cars left in the field. Cope continues to lead the way over Shelnut, Dempsey, Finney and Bowers. Colangelo challenges Bowers, they raced together in Legend cars, taking over fourth as Pollen retakes fifth. Colangelo now puts pressure on Finney and takes over fourth with Pollen on his tail for fifth. Finney settles into sixth but it is not for long as Bowers passes Finney and takes over sixth as Finney settles into seventh. Finney begins to slide backwards with possibily a tire going down.
The caution comes out on lap 93 for Daniel Webster, Dusty Cornelius, and Justin Larson as they all get together on the backstretch. This however is good for Finney who takes the opportunity to go to pit road for a tire change. The race goes back green on lap 97 as Cope leads over Shelnut, Dempsey, Colangelo and Pollen. But it is another short green as Chet Morrison brings out the yellow as he visits the wall. Morrison is fine but also done for the night.
104 sees the green as Cope leads the way over Shelnut, Dempsey, Colangelo and Pollen. Dempsey puts pressure on Shelnut for second but Shelnut holds his position and maintains second. Pollen slides very high on lap 106 and loses fifth to Smith. Pollen did a great job of saving his car and keeps on trucking. Finney, who had to restart in the rear for his pit stop, passes Scofield for eighth as Scofield goes to ninth.
Now comes to the fun part except not for anyone who was leading the race. On lap 116, Cope spins in turn 4 all alone and goes to the rear of the field for the restart giving the lead over to Shelnut. Cope, who lead for 84 laps, retires to the pits. Shelnut leads the way on lap 115 over Dempsey, Colangelo, Bowers, and Pollen but not for long as Shelnut hits the turn 3 wall with a tire going down it seems. Shelnut, who just recently returned to racing, ends his very good night.
Thirteen cars are left for the restart on lap 116 as Dempsey now is the new leader over Colangelo, Bowers, Finney, and Patrick Williams. But it seems to be the leader, is the kiss of death as Dempsey finds himself out of the race on lap 119. Colangelo is sent to the rear for the restart although it looks as if Dempsey has run out of gas and slowed. Dempsey is now done for the night.
New leader is now Matt Bowers on lap 119 with twelve cars left in the field. Pollen once again washes up high in the turn but does a great job of saving his car. Finney begins to put pressure on Bowers and on lap 120, Finney takes over the lead followed by Bowers, Patrick Williams, Stanley Smith, and Jeff Scofield.
Dusty Cornelius slows on lap 123 down the frontstretch but is able to get the car out of harm's way as the race continues for two more laps. Finney maintains his lead and wins the first leg of the Triple Crown followed by Matt Bowers, Patrick Williams, Stanley Smith, and Jeff Scofield.
The Second Leg of the Triple Crown will be run August 2, 2008 at USA International. The next racing event for the Sunoco Sunbelt Super Late Models will be June 21 at Columbia Motorsports Park.
OFFICIAL RESULTS SUNBELT SUPER LATE MODEL SERIES, TRIPLE CROWN RACE #1 USA INTERNATIONAL, JUNE 7, 2008
1. #80 Brian Finney, Merritt Island 2. #84 Matt Bowers, Mt. Dora 3. #77 Patrick Williams, Archer 4. #49 Stanley Smith, Chelesa, AL 5. #07x Jeff Scofield, Plant City 6. #12 Corey Freed, Orlando 7. #05 Jeremy Colangelo, Deland 8. #53 Brad Bischoff, Myakka 9. #88X David Pollen, Jr., Tampa 10. #3 Daniel Webster, Brooksville 11. #22 Dusty Cornelius, Cocoa 12. #39 Dwayne Dempsey, St. Pete 13. #26 Travis Cope, Hernando 14. #7 Daryl Shelnut, Lake City 15. #74 Seth Greco, Thonotosassa 16. #86 Chet Morrison, Homa, LA 17. #88 Justin Larson, Safety Harbor 18. #07 Dustin Henderson, St. Cloud 19. #55 Billy Mowery, Clearwater 20. #92 Wayne Anderson, Wildwood 21. #2 Patrick Conrad, Clermont 22. #5 Joe Boyd, Riverview 23. #00 Robert Yoho, Pinellas Park 24. #83 David Wilson, Sarasota 25. #1 Fain Skinner, Live Oak 26. #36 Tim Russell, Longwood 27. #10 Brad May, Oviedo 28. #11 David Rogers, Orlando 29. #56 Chris Staggs, Clermont