Mike Fritts Claims Second Florida Governors Cup
By John Berti
-Karnac.com staff writer
New Smyrna Beach, FL November 19, 2005 - Mike Fritts had a story book day winning his second
Governors Cup 200 at New Smyrna Speedway Saturday night.
Fritts, the 2002 Governors Cup champion, began
his day winning the pole turning the fastest time in qualifying against 34 of the finest Super Late Model drivers to converge on a short track speedway. He was the only driver to break into
the seventeen second bracket with a fast lap of 17.846 seconds on the 1/2 mile high banked asphalt oval. Joining Fritts as the top five qualifiers were Jeff Choquette (18.011), Jason
Drawdy (18.018), Daryl Shelnut (18.049) and Brian Finney (18.086).
The Governor's Cup 200, regarded as Florida's biggest asphalt short track race, was made even more enticing for the competitors with the
addition of lap money. All 200 laps were sold at $100 per lap adding $20,000 to the regular payoff. The win alone was worth $5,000.
The Grand Marshal of the 40th Annual Governor's Cup race was Tom Gallagher, Chief Financial Officer for the State of Florida. Gallagher, State Senator Bill Posey and other
dignitaries joined FASCAR owner Robert Hart in welcoming drivers and their race teams in pre-race ceremonies.
Posey read a letter from Governor Jeb Bush who was sorry he was unable to attend. In
the letter Bush said, "I am sure that Tom Gallagher will leave the track tonight with an even greater understanding of Florida's stock car racing community, as I did." Gallagher,
in a post race interview, indicated that was definitely the case.
Fritts and Choquette, last year's event winner, brought the field around for the start of the 200 lap grind. Fritts darted into the lead.
Wayne Jefferson experienced problems right of the bat dropping off the pace and was the first competitor to retire from the race.
At the ten lap mark Fritts continued to lead with Choquette, 2nd; Drawdy, 3rd; Shelnut, 4th; and Mario Gosselin, 5th.
Gosselin got under Shelnut on lap 13 to move into fourth. Wayne Anderson, the 2003
Governors Cup winner and ninth position starter, passed Finney one lap later to take over seventh. Anderson kept chipping away and by lap 22 he was running with Fritts, Choquette, Drawdy and Gosselin in the top five.
Jeff Scofield, winner of the first leg of the Triple Crown Series at Citrus County Speedway last week, dropped off the pace on lap 48, eventually bringing his car to a
stop on the backstretch. This put the field under caution. Scofield was able to re-fire, pit and rejoin the competition.
With 50 laps complete Fritts was still on top followed by Choquette, Drawdy, Anderson,
Gosselin, Shelnut, Finney, Fain Skinner, Jay Middleton and Jason Boyd running within the top ten.
On the restart Anderson went to work on Drawdy for third. Anderson ducked under
Drawdy between turns one and two on lap 59 to take third.
Patrick Conrad brought his car to a halt on the backstretch on lap 60 to bring out the
yellow. The race was restarted on lap 65. Anderson went to the outside of Choquette, but Choquette was able to hold off Anderson's challenge.
Fritts continued to rack up the lap money as he remained on top through lap 76 followed by Choquette, Anderson Drawdy, and Gosselin running in the top five.
On lap 77 Choquette tried the inside of Fritts coming off turn four. Contact was made which sent Fritts into a wild broadside slide. With flat-spotted tires, Fritts was forced to pit for new rubber.
Choquette was the new race leader on the lap 80 restart with Anderson, Drawdy, Gosselin and Finney in tow.
Chet Morrison spun in turn two on lap 92 to bring out a caution. Choquette, Drawdy,
Gosselin and 1997 race winner David Rogers all headed down pit road for service.
When the field went back to green Anderson was shown as the new race leader with
Finney, 2nd; Skinner, 3rd; 2001 race winner, James Powell III, 4th; and Martin Pierce, 5th.
At the halfway mark the top ten were Anderson, Finney, Skinner, Pierce, Powell, Chris
Fontaine, 1982 and 2000 Governor's Cup Champion Jimmy Cope, Rich Pratt, Scofield, and Mac Johnson.
A misty rain put the field back under yellow on lap 104, but it was short lived as racing resumed on lap 108.
PHOTO GALLERY ONE! PHOTO GALLERY TWO!
Fritts was running a smart and steady race patiently working his way back up to the front. By lap 115 he was running in the top ten.
Meanwhile back at the front of the pack Anderson, who had still not pitted, continued to lead over Finney, Skinner, Pierce and Powell.
Travis Wilson, Ryan Foster, Scot Walters and Conrad crashed in turns one and two on lap 121. Fourth and fifth place runners, Pierce and Powell, took the opportunity to pit.
The green came out again on lap 131 with Anderson still on the track and in the lead with Finney and Skinner who also hadn't pitted yet running second and third. Fritts had
worked all the way back into fourth with Scofield hot on his heals.
Fritts got under Skinner to take over third on the restart with Skinner falling all the way back to sixth.
With 60 laps to go the top ten were Anderson, Finney, Fritts, Scofield, Fontaine, Skinner, Drawdy, Boyd, Rogers and Choquette.
Fritts got under Finney between turns one and two on lap 144 to move into the runnerup position. Before the lap was completed Gosselin spun in turn three hitting the wall with
the rear of his car. The yellow was displayed.
Finally Anderson pitted along with Finney, Fontaine and Skinner.
The running order of the top ten on the restart were Fritts, Scofield, Drawdy, Boyd,
Choquette, Rogers, Shelnut, Pratt, B.J. McLeod and James Glover.
The field went back to green, but not for long as rain led to a red flag on lap 154.
The rain stopped, the track was dried and racing resumed about 70 minutes later.
The restart order was Fritts, Scofield, Drawdy, Boyd, Choquette, Rogers, Shelnut, Pratt, Pierce and Powell.
On the restart Choquette wasted little time getting by Boyd for fourth. Anderson, with new tires, was charging to the front and was back into the top ten by lap 160.
Choquette dove to the bottom of the track between turns three and four on lap 171 in an attempt to get by Drawdy for third. He hit the bumps on the inside of the track
vaulting him up into Drawdy. Choquette's car went over the front of Drawdy's car with Drawdy's machine planked into the wall on its side. It was deja vu all over again as
Choquette tried a similar move on Anderson at Citrus County Speedway last week. The results were much more devastating this time with both cars being towed off the tracks. Fortunately neither driver was hurt.
The race was restarted on lap 184 with Fritts still in the lead followed by Scofield, Boyd, Rogers, Anderson, Shelnut, Pratt, Pierce, Powell and Morrison in the top ten.
The rest of the race could be best described as "The Wayne Anderson Racing Clinic" as Anderson seemed to pick off a car every lap or two.
Powell, Pratt and Lee Collins came together on lap 187 to put the field under yellow. The restart order of the top five were Fritts, Scofield, Boyd, Anderson and Rogers.
Anderson got by Boyd on the lap 192 restart and took the measure of Scofield on lap 195 to take second.
Anderson whittled away at Fritts' lead being able to come right up on Fritts' bumper on
the last lap, but Fritts was able to hold on for the win.
The official top ten were Fritts, Anderson, Scofield, Boyd, Rogers, Shelnut, Pratt, Pierce, Morrison, and Skinner.
Fritts led the most laps in the race (129) to earn $12,900 in lap money in addition to the $5,000 that he got for the win.
Fritts was confident about his car before the race even started. Fritts said, "This car has a great engine. It was just freshened at Boyd Racing Engines." "I haven't raced since
June so I didn't know if I'd be able to keep up with the car." he joked.
Post Race Video with Mike Fritts in Winners Circle ...Click Here!
Anderson, who has a reputation amomg some fans -earned or unearned- for being a dirty driver, ran a clean race and praised his fellow competitors for doing the same. "A lot of
people raced me clean." said Anderson. "I've got to commend Rogers, Boyd and Scofield."
Post Race Video with Wayne Anderson in Winners Circle ...Click Here!
Scofield was very pleased with his finish. "Its great to finish third when you consider all
the problems we had. We had a vibration on lap 30, we pitted for tires too early, and we had problems with a trailer arm." Scofield said.
Jason Boyd's fourth place finish enabled him to clinch the 2005 FASCAR Sunbelt Super Late Model Series championship. He was pleased with his run. "We had a pretty good
car, not a great one. I couldn't see any sense to holding anyone off. This was a great finish for Dick (Anderson), my car owner, on his birthday." Boyd said.
The final leg of the FASCAR Sunbelt Super Late Model Series will be held at Desoto Super Speedway in Bradenton, FL next Saturday.
FASCAR Sunbelt Super Late Model Series, 40th Annual Governor's Cup 200
Complete Official Finish:
1. #27 Mike Fritts, Debary
2. #84 Wayne Anderson, Wildwood
3. #07 Jeff Scofield, Plant City
4. #92 Jason Boyd, Orlando
5. #11 David Rogers, Orlando
6. #7 Daryl Shelnut, Ft. Lauderdale
7. #0 Rich Pratt, Anthony
8. #75 Martin Pierce, Sanford
9. #86 Chet Morrison, Huma, GA.
10. #1 Fain Skinner, Live Oaks
11. #74j Jay Middleton, Lake City
12. #80 Brian Finney, Merritt Island
13. #61 Jimmy Cope, St. Petersburg
14. #59 Mario Gosselin, Lake Wales
15. #78 B.J. McLeod, Walchula
16. #70x James Glover, Pinellas Park
17. #83 Lee Collins, Felda
18. #20 Ron Dicandio, Canaveral Groves
19. #57 James Powell, Astor
20. #47 Chris Fontaine, Lakeland
21. #12 Justin Drawdy, Ft. Pierce
22. #70 Jeff Choquette, West Palm Beach
23. #10 Ryan Foster, Lowell, Arkansas
24. #00 Robert Yoho, Pinellas Park
25. #55 Scott Walters, Naples
26. #2 Patrick Conrad, Clermont
27. #62 Travis Wilson, Bartow
28. #6 Mac Johnson, Gainesville
29. #5k Daniel Keene Jr., Land O'Lakes
30. #05 Dalton Zehr, Daytona Beach
31. #25 Tim Nicholas, Melbourne
32. #53 Al Berry, Branford
33. #94 Wayne Jefferson, St. Petersburg
34. #20 Scott Milar, Ocala DNS