ROGERS COMPLETES COMEBACK WITH SPEEDWEEKS WINby Matthew Dillner
Middleton Mad, TC On A Tear, Jourdain Not Happy With Fritts & More
It was an eventful night for the Super Late Models at New Smyrna Speedway. Teams had to wait for quite some time because the Late Model race prior to the main event took a long-time after a ton of cautions and three red flag delays. The waiting may have caused some frustration and impatience as there were a few incidents and hot tempers after the night was over.
finally broke off a little bit, it felt like my car settled back down. Maybe I settled back down. It has been some time since I’d been in that position.”
It had been a while since Rogers had visited victory lane, an experience that he admits he wondered if he would ever enjoy again. Rogers win at Speedweeks was his first since an accident last season at Orlando Speedworld nearly ended his racing career.
Daivd Rogers and Louis Mechalides race on Sunday night. (Bob Milner Photo)
But one man kept his cool throughout the wait with Louis Mechalides breathing down his neck. That man was David Rogers.
Rogers held off several charges, and some contact from Saturday's Super Late Model winner Mechalides, to take the win on night number three at Smyrna.
“Louis is tough,” said Rogers. “He is a good racer and he has a fast car. There were times it looked like I was a little quicker than him. I slipped one time and he was right on me and he would stay all over me. Then, when I
“It feels good to be in Victory Lane, but it feels good to just be back in a racecar,” explained Rogers after the win. “I had my doubts after that wreck at Orlando last year. You never really know until you get back in one. But you never really know if you are ready until you get back in the car.
“And to win during Speedweeks, that means a lot to me and a lot to a lot of people. I think it meant the most to my wife though. I think she knows now that I can get in the car and not totally freak out. It all makes a lot of difference.
(EDITORS NOTE: Speed51.com will have a more in depth story on Rogers comeback soon)
Rogers in Victory Lane with his wife and kids. (Milner Photo)
Rogers led the entire way in the 30-lap feature for the popular win that had the crowd roaring.
Much of the race saw very little passing. But the with five to go, the action exploded with lapped cars in the mix and some serious body slamming. Mike Fritts snuck by Mechalides on the last lap to finish second in a wild last few laps of the race.
And Fritt's summed it up perfectly... “Those last couple of laps were hairy though, weren’t they???”
SPEEDWEEKS NOTES: NIGHT THREE
MIDDLETON MAD AT CHARGING TC
Jay Middleton may have left night number three with his points lead in tact, but his feelings certainly didn't match his number-one spot.
Middleton was running in the fourth spot with a few laps to go until all hell broke loose. Lapped cars and three-wide situations caused some craziness. And then a door-slamming pass by Ted Christopher put Middleton out of the top five and got under the young Florida driver's skin.
“After the race, Teddy just came over and doored me right in the tire. I don't know what his problem was. He was flipping me off the whole time. I just came up there and put my hands out the window to be like 'what were you doing?' and he was like BAM! As soon as I come up there he slammed me. I was like, 'you were the one who hit me? '
“I don't know what his problem is. I thought he was a pretty decent driver and apparently he's not. It will show up later on.”
Christopher, who is known for his aggressiveness, chalked it up to some crazy crunch-time traffic racing.
Jay Middleton had a few donuts on the side of his car by the end of the night. (51 Photo)
“I was trying to figure out which hole to pick” said Middleton who ended up sixth. “I was right there in the middle and couldn't hardly see because they were three wide in front of me. I didn't know which way to go.
“And then Teddy Christopher comes in and rams his car in there and doors me. Everybody else after that proceeds to door me when they come by. Then I was trying to get around a lapped car and Drawdy pushed me up to the third lane. I don't know what those guys were all thinking. A little too aggressive.
“I do this stuff a lot,” said TC. “It's like racing SK's. For some reason I am pretty good in the traffic deal and we got a few good picks there and it worked and we got a few spots.
“One guy, the 74, is a little mad but he will get over it. I was down in here and I filled the hole and made a little more than I wanted. I didn't really turn right on him I just kept my throttle coming off and the lapped guy pulled down. A whole opened up, that's the way it goes. Fill it, and if it works take it. If it don't, try it again next time.”
Ted Christopher (#29) and Trevor Stewart (#91) race on Sunday night.
“Was that freakin' awesome to watch? A couple of more laps and I would be coming. I just wish we could get this thing time trialed. If we can get this in the top-six, damn we have a good enough car to win for sure.
“I haven't been passed here. We just keep passing cars. We were right on those guys. I mean a couple of more laps we'd win. I almost passed Louis (Mechalides) down the back straightaway.
“I passed in the Mods and passed in the Super Lates. I just enjoy racing and am used to starting in the back every race and working my way up to the front. That's my job.”
After a night off for the Mods, TC will be back on Monday, but in just the Mods as the Supers Late Models are off.
FRITTS TAG HAS JOURDAIN FRUSTRATED
Mexican open-wheel star Michel Jourdain Jr. has had quite an initiation into the American Short Track scene. He has been super fast, and wowed everyone in attendance with his night-two save when spinning in turn three.
On night three, Jourdain was fast again. But a tap from Mike Fritts sent Jourdain spinning out of turn two and erased his chances at another good performance.
Fritts, who charged to a runner-up finish, told Speed51.com that the bump wasn't intentional.
“I got into the 10 car barely,” said Fritts. “I went over there and talked to them guys because they were kind of upset.
“He was right on the edge anyway and their car looked really loose. He got loose, I touched him, I got off the gas and let him gather it up. He just kept smoking the tires and he turned it around. He just kept smoking the tires. I tired to be nice to let him gather it up, but he kept smoking the tires. It wasn’t anything intentional.
OTHER NIGHT THREE SLM NOTES...
There was contact between Jourdain (#10) and Fritts, but it looked like Fritt's did let off. (51 Photo)
“I felt like I was running pretty good,” said Jourdain. “We were in traffic with the first few guys and I was waiting for my opportunity to make a move.
“Then the 112 (Fritts) gave me a little touch in one. He just gave me enough hit to spin me. He said he didn't, but the car, it has a mark on it when it didn't have it before. It is frustrating because I have been running pretty good all week. It's either one way or the other. I am here to learn and I am learning a lot.
- After a tough two nights of problems, Chase Austin completed his first race during Speedweeks. The 15- year old driver finished 25th in his first Super Late Model race. Chase is running for SS Racing in a driver development program for Hendrick Motorsports. Austin is being mentored by Short Track legend Butch Miller and cew chief Deon Deneau.
- Opening night winner Travis Kittleson was not at Smyrna on Sunday. His night two crash with Mike Fritts damaged the chassis enough where the team decided to load it up. Kittleson told us that he will be at the track, without his car, hoping someone may want to put him in their Super Late Model.
Chase Austin was able to finish his first Speedweeks after problems the first two nights.
- Indiana's Eddie Van Meter showed up at Speedweeks on night three. He didn't have the best effort in his first night of action, finishing a dismal 28th.
shake down the new engine to see what it has. Middleton finished sixth, and has two second place efforts during Speedweeks but has told Speed51.com that he is down on power compared to many of the cars around him.
Red flags were common in the Late Model feagture, including this one that happened as the cars came to the green. (51 Photo)
- Jerry Artuso won again in the Late Model division. The win makes Artuso three-for-three at Smyrna. The #5 was followed across the finish line by Rich Clouser and Pro Cup part-timer Derrick Kelly. Jason Boyd came from the back after a spin to finish fourth.
-The first of three red flags in the Late Model race happened before the cars even took the green. Tim Russell, who was on the pole, got out of shape resulting in a multi-car wreck before they even reached the start-finish line.
- Jay Middleton worked all night after the Super Late Model race changing engines. The team is not sure whether they will go with the new powerplant they put in the 74. With the Super Late Models off on Monday, they will practice and