CLOSE FINISHES HIGHLIGHT RACE ACTION SATURDAY NIGHT AT NEW SMYRNA
8-2-2014 New Smyrna Speedway
A nice crowd was treated to some awesome racing Saturday night at New Smyrna
Speedway as NASCAR Whelan All-American Series action continued on the
The Pro Late Models were back for a regular 25-lap affair and it would be a
barn burner from start to finish. Ricky Anderson led the opening two circuits
before being passed by Anthony Cataldi on the third lap after some very close
racing that saw a bit of paint being "traded." Cataldi looked to have the car
to beat as he pulled out to a fairly good margin over the field while Aussie
driver Will Carroll worked his way into second spot.
Something happened to Chad Pierce's car on lap 14 and he pounded the turn four
wall while running in the top five. Pierce was OK but his car required a tow
from Tim's Automotive back to the pits. On the restart, Carroll began to
really pressure Cataldi but the young driver from Umatilla looked to be up to
the task of scoring his first win of the year. Carroll kept the pressure on
though and after some very close action, took the point with three laps to go
and breezed to his second win of the season along with adding to his point
Anderson came home third behind Cataldi and the two teams got into a bit of a
shouting and shoving match in victory lane over some of the earlier "close"
racing before cooler heads prevailed. Rich Clouser was fourth and Zach
Jarrell took fifth. Rookie 14-year-old driver Noah "Little Gator" Cornman was
sixth in just his second start in a PLM. Pierce was credited with seventh
ahead of Ricky Moxley and Randy Anderson who both fell out of the event
Brad Blanton had been getting close in recent weeks with several second and
third place finishes in the Mini Stocks. The driver from Tavares finally put
it all together to score his first-ever win in the class and he did it in
style by passing a very fast Tyler Simpson for the lead on lap 11, then
leading the rest of the way despite constant pressure from Simpson who stayed
close until the checker fell in the all-green race for the four cylinder cars.
Trailing Blanton and Simpson were David Russell, heat winner Pat Wells and
Jamie Dixson. Mark Broat, Reid Christiensen and Daniel Brown rounded out the
The only driver to lead his race from green to checker was Garrett Hill who
finally put his car in victory lane in the Sportsman feature that also ran all
25 laps without a yellow flag.
Todd Allen was the big story of this race as he showed up late, missed both
practice and the heat race and started scratch on the field. Allen proceeded
to drive by everyone without aid of a caution and tracked down Hill with a few
laps to go. Despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Hill, Allen
had to settle for a close second. Heat race winner Junior Beckner finished
well back in third ahead of Justin Starr and Chris Brannon. Donny Williams
was sixth followed by Ron Gustafson and D. J. Farr. Scott Bramlett was unable
to start the feature.
It was a wild finish and an even wilder cool-down lap for the E-Modifieds as
things got a little "testy" following some very close action over the latter
laps of the event that actually began while a light drizzle fell on the track.
Diamond Jim Higginbotham led the opening three laps before track officials
decided the precipitation was a little too heavy to continue under green.
After a few caution laps the wet stuff subsided and Higginbotham led one more
circuit before Justin Reynolds, making his first E-Mod start in his beautiful
new car, took over for four laps before 14-year-old sensation Matthew Green
zipped by and into the lead. Green, who earlier won the heat, was out front
when Reynolds and Jarrett Korpi tangled going into turn one while trying to
lap a slower car. Both drivers were given their spots back for the restart.
Green looked to be a sure winner but Higginbotham looped his car in turn four
just as the field took the white flag while trying to dodge a slower car.
That set up a one lap dash to the checker with Green and Korpi side-by-side
for the restart. The pair came close to wrecking but Korpi forged ahead and
scored his eighth win of the year over a very upset Green who was none to
happy and set up a very bizarre cool-off lap but fortunately no big damage
resulted. Green was credited with second while Reynolds' debut was solid with
a third place finish. Dennis Wheeler came home fourth ahead of Higginbotham,
Jon Compagnone, Mike Dahm and George Dahm.
The best race of the night was the final one as the V-8 powered cars had to
take a back seat to the four cylinder machines in the Strictly Stock feature.
Charles King, Sr. was back with his new Hyundai and looked to easily be the
fastest car at the track during hot laps... until Zach Curtis showed up late
with his Saturn painted with the number 9z on the side in honor of the late
racer Zack Donatti.
King won the heat race, but the battle was on in the 20-lap headliner as he
and Curtis swapped the lead "officially" at the stripe five times. Although
King led at the white flag, Curtis made a banzai move going into turn three on
the last lap and just held King off at the checker. The crowd that stayed for
this one gave Curtis a rousing ovation as he pulled into victory lane for his
first win of the year. Shane Sutorus was the "best" of the V-8 cars but not
far behind in third driving a Ford Thunderbird. Jimmy Barron took fourth
trailed by Warren Howie, Aaron Overman and Dan Webb.