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Florida Governor's Cup

Sunday, October 14, 2001


James Powell III holds off Anderson and Rogers to take 36th Annual Governor's Cup

By Rick Anges

The atmosphere at New Smyrna Speedway was thick with anticipation before the start of the 36th annual Governors Cup. Governor Jeb Bush arrived to cheers and applause of the 6,500 plus fans who filled the speedways grandstands. A chill went through the fans as everyone joined in with the Presidents brother when the national anthem was sung and everyone waved the small American Flags that were given to the audience as they came in the gate.

Governor Bush's pre-race speech was also stirring when he said "My Brother says we need to get back to normal and normal in Florida on Saturday night is stock car racing!"
Listen to the Governor's words to the fans from New Smyrna

With that thirty-two of the best Late-Models screamed to life to begin the 200-lap journey for "The Cup". Six former Champions graced the field as they pulled out onto the Speedway.

Fast qualifier James Powell III sat on the pole with past Champion David Rogers on his outside. When the Governor waved the green it was Rogers moving out to the point with Powell sliding in behind him. Pre-race favorite and two time winner Dickie Anderson did not make things easy for Powell as he pressured him high and low but the wily Powell was able to hold his spot and the top three began to pull away from the field. Mike Williams problems started early and he had to make a quick dash into the pits but was unable to correct the problem and retired early after an early top ten run.

The first caution came up as three cars tangled in turn four; Barry Willoughby, Eric Black and Shane Sawyer were involved. Sawyer apparently broke a radiator spewing fluid down the front stretch trying make his way to his pit. Willoughby made several trips to pit road but had to retire his damaged racer.

When the green flew again it was Rogers, Powell and Anderson again racing for the top spot, but a good battle was brewing a little further back in the pack as four time cup winner Jimmy "Mr. Excitement" Cope and Wayne Anderson, "99" cup winner and fresh off his All-Pro race in the Tennessee the night before were making their way through the pack. Mike Fritts and veteran Late Model driver Daniel Keene were just ahead of the duo running fourth and fifth. The pack of seven cars pulled away to about a ten-car length lead.

The elder Anderson was doing everything he could to get by Powell, going deep in the turns and almost pulling beside the #37 car but Powell had the power down the straight keeping the race going lap after lap. Former Open Wheel champ Lee Collins had to pull his mount behind the wall when the brake problems he had been battling all weekend finally took their toll on the #89 machine.

Eric Black who was involved in an earlier altercation slapped the wall hard bringing out another caution and allowing some of the cars to make a dash into the pits for some much needed adjustments. On the restart Anderson in the #92 used his years of experience slid by Powell into second and was immediately on the bumper of Rogers. Rogers appeared to go high in turn four allowing Anderson to get inside and drag race him for the lead pulling ahead in one and coming out in the lead on the back stretch and pulling away. Powell was also able to get by Rogers and assumed the second spot. Mike Fritts slid in behind Rogers for the fourth spot.

When the yellow flew again the pits became a busy place as the leader Anderson, Cope, Fritts, Powell, Keene and a host of others dashed down pit road. Anderson appeared to have problems on his stop and was the last one of pit road barely making it out in front of the pace truck.

After the stops Rogers and Wayne Anderson, both who had not pitted, assumed the top two positions. While Powell, Anderson and Cope (who was looking for his fifth cup win) started from the rear of the pack and were slicing and dicing through the field. Powell got by several cars and was distancing himself from the duo a wreck coming out of turn four collected not only Jeff
Dufresne but also the hard battling Cope and Anderson.

The two had a heated discussion on the front stretch while their wounded mounts were loaded on the wreckers. Cope's bent up machine was towed to his trailer while Andersons machine was towed to pit road. With Anderson surveying the damage his crew went to work pulling bent and broken parts and sheet metal off the car and eventually getting him back out on the lead lap.

The younger Anderson meanwhile maintained the lead while young Mike Bresnahan followed in second with Jeff Scofield in third and Powell on the charge back for the lead in fourth. Anderson, Scofield and Bersnahan had yet to pit and when another caution flew all dived into their stalls for fresh tires and fuel. This handed the lead back to Powell. Travis Kittleson who had been running ASA most of the year did not pit and held the second spot on the start. David Rogers made his way back up the leaders and was on the bumper of Kittleson. Kittelson did everything he could to hold the New Smyrna champ off but his tires eventually gave out on him and he went around coming out of four allowing Rogers to take the spot and forcing the young driver into the pits for four much needed Good Years.

Dickie Anderson in what now looked more like a modified then a late model had made his way all the way back into the fifth position before having to retire with an overheating problem.

The closing laps saw shades of last year as Rogers in second was running in front of Anderson the pair were racing hard for the second spot but it was obvious the Rogers had a tire going down as sparks began to fly from underneath the #11 as he was going into the turns. The white #11 was forced into the pits and being that the teams were only allowed one set of tires for the race Rogers was forced to put an old tire on
Attrition was the name of the game as 200 laps was a much longer race then most drivers were used to. Kittleson who had come back after his earlier spin and was racing hard to catch the lead group was caught up in a serious looking wreck when Scofield went inside on Jack Cook who went sliding up the embankment in turn two causing Kittleson to get hard on the binders and slide up the hood and on the roof of Cooks #96. Also involved was the #12E of Jeff Emery was also taken out in the melee.

The green flag dropped with only five laps left to go and only nine cars left of the thirty-two car field Powell lead them down to the stripe and held on for the win and his first ever Governors Cup win and having his engraved on Florida Stock Car Racings most prestigious trophy. Wayne Anderson was able to hold off Rogers for second Johnny Kay took the fourth spot and rounding out the top five was Billy"the Kid" Mowery.

Although it was marred by many cautions the race was tight and hard fought all the way to the end. The build up anticipation prior to the race made this event a happening unlike any other short track late model race in the state of Florida. Don Nerone and his crew for sure gave the fans and participants something that will go down as one of the best cup races ever, until next year.

PHOTO GALLERY ONE: Before the Race
PHOTO GALLERY TWO: During and after the race

Listen to the Post race interviews with James Powell, Wayne Anderson and David Rogers.

Final Standings:
1. #37 - James Powell
2. #84 - Wayne Anderson
3. #11 - David Rogers
4. #48 - Jonny Kay
5. #73 - Billy Mowery
6. #19 - Tom Root
7. #3 - Mike Bresnahan
8. #31 - Jeff Sloan
9. #07 - Jeff Scoffield
l0. #7 - Matt Griffin
11, #9 - Jonathan Brown
12. #88 - Travis Kittleson
13. #12e - Jeff Emery
14. #96 - Jack Cook
15. #92 - Dick Anderson
16. #5x - Daniel Keene, Sr.
17. #39 - Morgan Hoover
18. #16 - Bruce Lawrence
19. #80 - Brian Finney
20. #12 - Justin Drawdy
21. #61 - Jimmy Cope
22. #28 - Jeff Dufresne
23. #27x - Mike Fritts
24. #51 - Jacob Warren
25. #10 - Eric Black
26. #87 - Gary Balough
27. #78 - B.J. McLeod
28. #74 - Barry Willoughby
29. #38 - Shane Sawyer
30. #2 - George Richardson
31. #89 - Lee Collins
32. #40 - Michael Williams

-Rick Anges

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