KITTLESON SNAPS LONG WINLESS STREAK ON NIGHT ONEby Jeremy Troiano
Travis Leads Wire-To-Wire One Week After Losing At Same Track
As Travis Kittleson said in his post-race interview on opening night of the 39th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing; racing is a constant learning sport.
“Races are all about making you learn. And if I didn’t race last week, I probably would have lost the race this week.”
It was Kittleson’s first trip to Victory Lane in any type of car in well over a year and it was obvious after Kittleson lit his tires up in an impressive burnout after the race was over.
“It feels good to be back in Victory Lane,” said Kittleson, who started on the outside pole following the invert. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a 25-lapper here or a shopping cart race. It feels good.
“It seemed like at the beginning of the race, Jay had a good car. He was pressuring me and beating on me pretty good. I’ll tell you what though, I learned a hard lesson last week when I lost the race with two to go by not playing defense. Me and my dad had a long talk and he told me that I needed to work on my defense. We knew my offense was pretty good.
Travis (right) and his father Rob celebrate in Victory Lane on the first night of Speedweeks action at New Smyrna Speedway (51 Photos)
Kittleson was referring to last weekend’s Pete Orr Memorial at New Smyrna Speedway, where he was leading with just two laps to go when he got the bumper laid to him from behind, moving him out of the lead and eventually back to third when the checkers waved.
On Friday night at the same track, Kittleson was not going to be denied.
Travis held off constant barrage of bumps from second-place Jay Middleton over the first 15 laps of the 30-lap Super Late Model feature, then pulled away to capture the victory on the first night of Speedweeks, leading all 30 laps in the process.
“I just learned how to pay a little bit of defense there and it worked. Right there at the end, the car came around and worked pretty good. We’ve still got a little bit of work to do on the car. I’m happy though. I think we can be a factor all week long.”
And for his front-stretch long burnout?
“The last time we won a race, I didn’t do a burnout. Now that I’ve went a year without winning, you just never know when your last win is going to be, so I took full advantage of it I wanted to celebrate it and share it with the fans.”
Travis Kittleson was the man to beat on Friday night.
A mid-race caution for Shawn Dunning’s accident allowed Kittleson to cool the tires and pull away at the end, leaving Middleton chasing in second.
“Not bad at all. This is our best finish ever here at Speedweeks,” said Middleton.
“We were all over him and he was running me all over the track. He did everything he had to do to keep me behind him. I tried to get around him, but after that last restart, his car got better after his tires cooled down or something. We just ran out of time.”
“All in all, it is a good way to start Speedweeks. This is a good way to start the week when you are running for the points.”
SPEEDWEEKS NOTES: NIGHT ONE
“I was getting pissed off. I wasn’t really getting psyched out. I kept getting the jump on the guys, so I was getting mad, knowing that if we had a green flag, I could get a good jump on them. I don’t know what was happening back there.”
CHASE CHASES IT
Fifteen-year-old Chase Austin, one of the Hendrick Motorsports driver development participants, failed to make one lap after mechanical problems took him out of the race. He is in Smyrna to run all nine nights in an SS Racing prepared car, under the guidance of Butch Miller (who served as Chase’s spotter) and Deon Deneau.
BACK AT THE TRACK
David Rogers, who was injured in an accident at Orlando Speedworld last year, made his first trip back to the track behind the wheel of a race car on Friday night, finishing 11th.
Justin Drawdy had a good night.
THIRD FOR DRAWDY
Florida hotshot Justin Drawdy settled into third place early and rode there for the remainder of the night, staying out of trouble after getting spun in one of the early cautions.
“At least we finished,” said Drawdy. “We have all our fenders on it and everything is ready to go for tomorrow night. That was my goal going into it.”
It took four attempts to get the Super Late Model feature started on Friday night. That was tough for Kittleson, who kept getting the jump on Middleton heading into turn one.
NINE WITH NO LAPS
The Super Late Model field started 32 cars on Friday night, however nine cars failed to complete one lap, victims of accidents or mechanical problems before the race ever had one official green flag lap ran.
The night’s pole winner Jimmy Cope was taken out when he ran into the back of Justin Drawdy’s car during one of the stack-ups. Mike Good was run into by former CART driver Michelle Jordane, who is running a Super Late Model at Speedweeks in addition to his full compliment of NASCAR Busch Series races in 2005. Jordane was able to continue.
Ted Christopher, who is racing in both the Super Late Models and the NASCAR Tour-Type Modifieds during Speedweeks, finished fourth in his SLM after winning the night’s Mod feature.
Michelle Jordane is at New Smyrna Speedway in a Super Late Model
LATE MODEL RESULTS
Jerry Artuso, the nights fastest qualifier, made little work coming through the field after starting fifth, to capture the Late Model feature on Friday in another caution-filled race. Tim Russell started on the pole after qualifying fifth. Tate Pierce, Rich Clouser, Martin Pierce and Russell rounded out the top-five.