NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. :: Looking to become the first two-time World Series of Asphalt Super Late Model champion from the past decade, Steve Wallace opened Speedweeks 2016 with a victory of survival on Friday night at New Smyrna Speedway.
Perhaps one of the most aggressive opening nights for the Super Late Model division in the recent history of the World Series, the 35-lap kickoff was marred by several incidents involving many of the expected championship contenders.
The final 18 laps were ran caution-free and saw Wallace and his JET Tools No. 66 pull away from Ty Majeski and Harrison Burton, whom ultimately completed the podium.
Wallace won the World Series Super Late championship back in 2014 and both his team and sponsors have made the week and important part of their program. So Wallace, whom started fifth, was extremely pleased with the results, especially given the number of crashes in the first half of the race.
“Well, some action happened off Turn 1 and a few of the leaders got into each other and we were able to avoid that one to get in position to win,” Wallace said. “So I just got to give credit to our crew chief, Blake Bainbridge and JET Tools, my dad, everyone who works so hard on our stuff.
“Our car was really fast tonight. We could work the top and carry that momentum and a lot of people can’t do that. It just feels good to be fast out of the box and win. It’s a great start to Speedweeks.”
Wallace was himself involved in the most significant crash of the night, getting into the back of Red Eye 100 winner Cole Anderson on Lap 13 and sending him hard into the concrete retaining wall on the backstretch. The incident occurred on the first lap after a restart and Wallace, Anderson and leader David Rogers were all battling hard for the lead.
Each of the three made contact with each other coming out of Turn 1 and Anderson ultimately paid the price.
Rogers cleared Wallace on the ensuing restart, but it only took three laps for the former NASCAR XFINITY Series driver to take the lead. Once there, he never looked back and led the rest of the way.
The strangest occurrence occurred on Lap 16 when Rogers got tagged from behind by Majeski. Despite both drivers slowing from the contact and receiving damage, race control placed them back at the front of the field, in second and third, behind Wallace for the restart.
One lap into that restart, Rogers was slow in third and got hit from behind by Stephen Nasse. Despite no damage to both cars, race control this time opted to send both drivers to the back for the next restart.
Rogers said Nasse was simply mad that he was sent back to the front following his run-in with Majeski and that’s what led to their incident.
“It wasn’t my call,” Rogers said. “They sent me back to the front and I guess that made (Nasse) mad, so we he started running into me in Turn 2 because I was having a hard time running the bottom, because he was frustrated already. He turned me sideways enough that I was just hanging on and he said he thought I was blocking him. So he just dumped me in Turn 4.”
Comments from race control could not be gathered at press time as the event had not yet concluded.
As for second-place Majeski, he was thrilled to have a runner-up finish to begin his efforts of winning the week-long championship.
“Steve and I battled each other hard a few months ago at the Gov Cup,” Majeski said. “We raced hard and we’ve raced clean then and we’re doing it here too. I want to race him back the same way. We didn’t quite have the car to battle with him so hopefully we can have it better to get him tomorrow.
“I’m just happy to have a good finish, because if you look at the crashes tonight, they were all guys we thought we’d have to race for the championship.”
Defending New Smyrna Speedweeks Super Late Model champion Zane Smith cut a left rear tire on Lap 15. He ended up finishing eighth. The complete results from Super Late Model Night One at New Smyrna can be found below.
The championship continues on Saturday night with another 35-lapper.
|7||8||David Garbo, Jr.|
|22||112||Steve Weaver, Jr.|