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Monday, February 9 - It seems that Daytona does not have exclusive rights to the 24 hour event as tonight at New Smyrna Speedway it turned into a two day affair. Racing got underway innocently at 7:36 with three heat races for the shortened field of TBARA sprinters on hand, 22 down from 27 the night before. Then it was right into feature events with the tour type modifieds first up for their 25 lap feature. Twenty one cars took the green flag and the destruction began. There were a total of 8 cautions in this event and the first 17 laps were tough to swallow. Chuck Hossfeld’s fine run from 19th starting position was ended early when on one restart Hossfeld banged the rear end of Ryan Newman driving the #7NY on the start and Newman ran him into the backstretch wall when he attempted to pass him on the outside. The last 8 laps of this race were worth the wait as Ted Christopher and Ryan Newman went at it tooth and nail. Christopher held the edge until a late restart where Newman drove around him to take the lead. On the next restart Christopher returned the favor with a clean pass of Newman and led until lap 21 when Newman got a run and repassed the Brady #00. The Sprint Cup racer led the remaining distance to pick up his first victory in his first attempt in a modified car. Eric Goodale, John Jensen and Jon McKennedy rounded out the top five in a race that took 47 minutes to complete.
You just knew the night was going to be long when the vintage car race had a spin out on the initial start. The spinner, Buddy Griffin, drove his late model #7 back to the front to take the win. Next up was the 25 lap crate late model feature which took the green at 9:41. What followed was horrible and was a poor excuse for racing. These guys and gals wrecked to the tune of 9 cautions and 55 minutes later at lap 11 they were given one more green flag with the next caution ending the event. We all took bets on how many laps it would be before the end with one being the closest. Actually zero would have been the magic number as when the field came to the green one car slid sideways on the homestretch and the race was mercifully checkered at 10:36 with Canadian Patrick Laperle, former ACT champion, winning the event over Landon Cassill and David Wagner. This was a good move by track management to put this one to rest as well as the cancelling of the autograph session for the TBARA sprint car drivers.
The 30 lap sprint car feature took the green flag at 11:01 with Dude Teate taking the early lead. All eyes were on the middle of the pack as 12th starting Dave Steele was slicing his way to the front. By lap 11 Steele had found the front of the field and was the new pacesetter. From there it was lights out with Steele running away. This one did not escape the caution fever as 3 yellows and 1 red slowed this one also. It was 49 minutes later before the checker waved on this affair with Steele the winner over Dude Teate, Gary Gimmler, Shane Butler and Troy DeCaire. Hats go off to Joey Aguilar who had a strong fourth last night and was solidly in the top five until dropping off the pace late in the race after starting 18th.
It was now 11:50, the temperature had dropped into the high 40’s and it was very damp. With two features still to go for the SK modifieds and the Florida modifieds it was time to join the other half of the fans who had already left. Word passed along to us having the last checker of the evening or should I say morning waving at 12:52. That beat Friday’s New Smyrna show by 12 minutes and management needs to shortened this show or the fans will not return. They had one of the biggest crowds we have seen in recent years tonight but with the program presented I will guarantee you that the crowd will not be as large on Tuesday. It’s a shame as you only get one chance to make a first impression. Maybe keeping the number of classes to a more managable maxinum of four would produce a more streamlined show.
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