Twenty-four hours after an East Coast teenaged prospect in Sammy Smith emerged victorious in opening night at the World Series of Asphalt at New Smyrna Speedway, his West Coast counterpart followed suit.
Jesse Love Jr. took the lead from Colin Garrett at the start of the 35-lap race and remained unchallenged the rest of the way on Saturday night.
That’s not to say the race was uneventful as second place on back was a slugfest between Garrett, Smith, Derek Griffith and Brad May. Meanwhile, an ugly crash involving Jett Noland, Vincent Staggs and Anthony Sergi resulted in a restart with two laps to go.
And once again, Love surged ahead, this time winning the drag race out of Turn 2 against Griffith to score his first Super Late Model victory and first with Wimmer Motorsports.
“That late caution sucked a lot,” Love said. “I’m not going to lie. I kind of figured it would happen. That’s what happens when things are going well. I wasn’t the happiest inside of the car. It worked out nice tonight. My spotter Branden (Lines) kept me calm, cool and collected.”
On Friday night, a faulty clutch prevented Griffith from outdueling Smith on a pivotal restart. On Saturday, he simply got beat.
“I just spun the tires,” Griffith said. “We came from sixth and raced pretty hard there with (Garrett) and (Smith) and burned my right rear up a little bit. That’s what happens when everyone runs this hard in a 35-lap race. I spun the tires on the restart and he just got the jump on me. I wanted to get myself clear on the top side, but he took off.”
Meanwhile, much of the action was generated by Garrett and his inability to get into Turn 3 and drive off Turn 4. He delivered a defensive clinic in finishing fourth but ruffled a lot of feathers along the way. There was contact between both Garrett and Smith in addition to Garrett and Griffith.
It left Smith extremely frustrated to finish seventh after winning opening night.
“We were just too loose at the start and (Garrett) just kept chopping me and chopping me,” Smith said. “He chopped me three times. If he did it again, he was going to get spun out. It was uncalled for. I wouldn’t race him like that.
“It’s frustrating to give up so many points tonight. We need to get the car better.”
For his part, Garrett believes he could have contended for the win if he could have beat Love on the initial start and got clean air on his nose.
“I’m not used to these CRA starts and (Love) checked out on me. We could hang onto to Jesse when it was just us in (Turns) 1 and 2. I was super loose on entry in 3, and it killed my center, and drive off. I just had to put too much wheel into it.”
As for the conflict with Smith, he says there were equal parts blame and tough racing.
“We came off the corner and he hooked me, hooked me again and got me sideways,” Garrett said. “It is what it is.”
With their back-to-back second and third place finishes, Griffith now leads May by four points in the World Series of Asphalt championship.
“We try to be consistent but we’re here to win races,” May said. “If we’re doing that, then we can start looking at the championship.”
Griffith is just proud to be in that conversation.
“After coming here last year, I had never won a race, or finished on the podium at Speedweeks, and here we are with a pair of second places,” Griffith said. “I’ll take it. I like the consistency and hopefully we can keep up with it all week. I think we have a good car and it’s going to be good on longer runs.
“I’m not used to these 35-lap runs. I’m used to longer races so I’m looking forward to the 50 lapper and the 100-lapper next week.”
Love is a 15-year-old Toyota Racing Development prospect, who will soon begin his ARCA East-West career with Bill McAnally Racing on Monday at New Smyrna. He also races Dirt Midgets for Keith Kunz Motorsports.
He’s a Madera Speedway JR Late Model race winner who was given an age waiver to compete in the Southwest Tour despite being 14 in 2019.
And now he’s won in the backdrop of NASCAR Speedweeks.
“Hopefully we can keep this rolling in the ARCA race and keep this momentum up,” Love said. “It should be a fun weekend and week two. If we can keep this going, maybe we can get a championship under our belts.”
The complete results from Night 2 of the World Series of Asphalt can be found below.
- Jesse Love
- Derek Griffith
- Brad May
- Colin Garrett
- Augie Grill
- Sammy Smith
- Ryan Moore
- Anthony Sergi
- Jake Garcia
- Justin Mondeik
- Austin MacDonald
- David Rogers
- Max Calles-McDonald
- Patrick Thomas
- David Green
- Kyle Sieg
- Jett Noland
- Trey Bayne
- Vincent Staggs
- Steve Weaver, Jr