SYMONS CAPTURES BILLY GUNN MEMORIAL WIN AT NEW SMYRNA SPEEDWAY
7-28-2014 New Smyrna Speedway
The Modified classes were showcased at New Smyrna Speedway Saturday night with
the running of the Billy Gunn Memorial as both the Open Modified and
E-Modified divisions combined for the special 50-lap event.
24 race teams signed in to do battle delayed by an afternoon rainstorm that
drenched the grounds just as the pit gates were being opened. Several inches
of the wet stuff fell in a very short period of time, but the sun was out
almost immediately and track crews went to work draining and trenching to get
the large amount of standing water dealt with. Practice was delayed by just
over an hour, but from there things went smoothly and the show got started
only a few minutes late.
22 Modifieds were left to take time after both Tank Tucker and Josh Todd
suffered problems during hot laps and scratched for the evening. Hobe Sound's
Ricky Moxley had his car glued to the track in turning an 18.787 second lap
for quick time. Alan Bruns of Clermont was second fastest at 18.889 seconds
with third quick being New Smyrna's Jerry "The Hammer" Symons at 18.946
seconds. Fast time bonus for the E-Modified cars was taken by Lake Hamilton's
Sean Bass at 19.830 seconds.
Moxley pulled a five pill to set the feature line-up and that placed New
Smyrna's Matt Wheeler on the pole flanked by Orlando veteran Shain Held.
Symons and Bruns made up row two for the start with Moxley and Mike Fritts
lining up in row three. Fritts, a two-time Florida Governor's Cup Late Model
winner here, came out of retirement to run the event driving the last car that
Billy Gunn had raced at New Smyrna. Fritts had purchased the car just a few
days prior to the race and got it race ready only the day before. The car
remained as it was when Gunn last raced it - signature black paint job with
his familiar number 13 and sponsorship from his business "Gunnstruction."
Held grabbed the early lead from the outside pole only to see the caution wave
on the second lap as one car got a bit too low in turn one and hit one of the
puddles of standing water. Once the track was dried it was Bruns sweeping
past Held to grab the point at the end of lap three. Bruns had his car
"hooked up" and he began to put some distance between himself and the rest of
the field who were running in tight formation with quite a bit of
position-swapping lap after lap.
The second yellow flag of the race did not come until lap 15 as Billy Tokes
spun and stalled in the mud at the bottom of turn four. The race resumed with
Bruns still able to lead by a good margin. At half-way Bruns held a
decent-sized advantage over Moxley, Symons, Fritts, Rob Cooper, Held, Wheeler,
Doc Mckinney, Jarrett Korpi and Matthew Green, who had the top-running
E-Modified in tenth. Bass, the top E-Mod qualifier had been running well but
dropped out before lap 25 could be completed with overheating problems.
The race ran under green until lap 39 when Held spun and stalled in the pit
road entrance. As the race restarted, Symons motored by Bruns and into the
lead. Only a lap 43 caution for a spinning Art Kunzeman slowed Symons over
the final laps as he breezed to his third straight points victory of the
season in his American Auto & Tire special. Symons earned $1500 for the
victory along with several other awards and a beautiful four-foot-tall
Bruns held off Moxley for second spot while "bullring" specialist Cooper had a
great, steady run to take fourth on the half-mile. Fritts was elated in
bringing the Gunn car home with a fifth place finish. Veteran Doc McKinney
had a good run in taking sixth with Held and Wheeler seventh and eighth.
Fourteen-year-old Matthew Green took ninth and was the top finisher among the
underpowered E-Modifieds and his finish earned him a $100 bonus and a
beautiful three-foot-tall trophy as the winner of his class. Chris Brannon,
also in an E-Mod was tenth. Rounding out the finishers were Kunzeman, Jon
Compagnone, Robert Glover, Jarrett Korpi, Tokes, Junior Beckner, Mike Dahm,
Mike Soukup, Bass, George Dahm, Justin Reynolds and Matt Jarrett.
A nice field of Sportsman cars saw a pair of heat races needed to help set the
starting grid with those events being taken by Patrick Thomas and Derrick
George Gorham, Jr. grabbed the early lead in the 25-lap feature and he held
the point until caution flew on lap five when heat winners Thomas and Wood got
together coming under the flagstand putting Thomas' machine into the wall and
ultimately out for the night. Wood was sent to the rear of the restart
line-up. Donny Williams took over the lead on the restart as Gorham's car
began to fade quickly. This set up a great battle up front among the top five
who were going at it tooth and nail with Williams fending off all challengers.
A late caution with two laps to go saw third place Justin Starr spin off turn
two and into the huge water puddle located near the inside pit entrance.
Starr continued but the car had been "soaked" too much to be a late factor.
On the restart, Wood got turned around by Junior Becker and Gorham tagged the
wall trying to avoid them. Wood got his spot back while Beckner was sent to
the rear and Gorham pitted.
A green-white-checker finish saw Williams hold off a late charge by Wood to
take his second victory of the year. Austin car, making his first start of
the season, grabbed the final place on the podium with Garrett Hill fourth and
Ron Gustafson fifth. Mike Soukup held steady for sixth trailed by Starr,
Beckner, Gorham, Steve Barnes, Thomas, D. J. Farr and Daniel Conlin, Jr. Todd
Allen did not start.
The Mini Stock feature race was a very competitive affair that ran the entire
25-lap distance under green. Reid Christiensen led the first pair of laps
until passed by Pat Wells who then led the next two laps in a borrowed car
after his was badly damaged in a crash the week before. Heat winner Tyler
Simpson got by Wells on the fifth lap and led the remaining distance for his
second win of the season. Brad Blanton made a late charge to claim second
just ahead of Christiensen. David Russell was fourth trailed by Jamie Dixson,
Mark Broat, Daniel Brown and Wells. Ted Vulpius did not start the race.
The Super Stock feature saw point leader Shannon Kelly lead all 25 laps as his
zipped to his second win of the year. The race was slowed by just one caution
flag on lap ten as Mike Amato spun on the front stretch. Amato recovered to
come back to take third place behind Kelly and Justin Spears. Gino Tumminello
was fourth ahead of J. T. Tippins, Preston Hunt and Mike Dahm. Amato won the
Charles King brought out a new car for Strictly Stock racing and won both the
heat and feature in what was a "first" for New Smyrna Speedway as a Hyundai
won events at the track for the first time. Trailing King to the checker in
the 15-lap feature were Jimmy Barron, Mark Shukwit and Aaron Overman. Michael
Hanna did not start.