THURSDAY: WILD FINISH HAS LANDIS HAPPY, STROUPE DISAPPOINTED
While all 50 laps of Thursday night’s 2006 Aaron’s Pro Challenge National Tour opener at Orlando SpeedWorld were exciting, nothing held a candle to the last lap at the 1/3-mile oval.
“We started off with the car pretty good,” said Stroupe. “We got a good jump and avoided the wreck in front of us. We were third and I just rode there for about 20 laps or so. I got by the #31 car to get to second. I ran behind the #21 (Landis) for a while too. I gave him a little nudge. He moved up and I got by him
“We led for about 10 or 15 laps or so. Then, when we took the white flag and started going down the backstretch, we ran out of fuel. Coming out of four, I just tried to hold onto my spot, but the #21 car ended up beating me and we finished second.
“What a wild and crazy finish,” said Landis after grabbing the win on the final lap. “That was a lot of fun. I just wanted to put pressure on him. That was my idea. I didn’t know I had won when I crossed the finish line. I just knew I had made it through clean and I was going the right direction.”
Landis didn’t just luck into the win. He jumped from his front-row starting spot to lead a good portion of the race.
“I figured if I could get the jump from the pole and get some space, I could maintain and hopefully not go too fast and burn the tires up for the end. The tires are sensitive with the temperatures being so cold. This track has never been as tight as it has been this whole weekend. I think it is all due to the weather.
“Luck just made it work for me tonight. You can’t do much about luck.”
The 13-year-old Stroupe was visibly disappointed, despite coming home second.
“It wasn’t a very good feeling. Knowing that we were the best car there, it helps me get over it and know that I can go on to the next race.”
While the cars raced to the finish line, Burchard spun while trying to get by both Stroupe and Landis. That handed third-place to another Florida veteran, Rod Sanders. Jason Trescl was fourth with Canada driver Dennis Thompson fifth.
FRIDAY: MATHIS RETURNS TO FORM
Mark Landis earned the win on night one at Orlando SpeedWorld. (51 Photos)
Young Zach Stroupe, who nearly picked up the win on Thursday night before running out of gas on the last lap, led the first 33 laps of the event from the pole position.
Stroupe was then challenged by Late Model veteran Josh Adams, but held him off. Then, he held off Bristol Motor Speedway Pro Challenge winner Jason Burchard. Finally, Mathis came calling.
The two drivers made contact while battling for the lead. Stroupe spun and Mathis continued. From there on out, Mathis would not be touched.
“They only pay for one lap and that’s the last lap,” said Mathis. “I hate getting into the #51 (Stroupe), but he started blocking and you can’t do that in this racing. He cut down to block me and I tried to stay off of him, but the car behind me picked me up and we got together.”
Stroupe saw it a little different.
“Our car would take a couple laps to get going, but that was the first time he had been near me,” said Stroupe. “He got his nose up under my bumper and he turned me
In the Aaron’s Pro Challenge Tour Series opener on Thursday, defending National Champion Terry Mathis was never a factor. His car broke just laps a few laps into the 50-lap feature and he dropped out early.
On Friday night, Mathis made sure he made up for that and he did it in the best way possible, by winning the 50-lap feature for the second National Tour race of 2006 at Orlando SpeedWorld.
The win didn’t come without a little bit of controversy though.
right around. I ended up saving it, but it cut the left rear tire and we were done.”
Despite the contact, Mathis was happy to come back from his misfortunes on Thurdsay.
“We broke the throttle cable the first night, but still came from 14th to 7th,” said Mathis. “Tonight the car was great.
“I think we had the best field of cars down here that we’ve ever run with. We had a few champions down here and some up and coming drivers and it made for some great racing. This is the best competition we’ve ever seen. “
Burchard was able to hold onto second at the checkers.
The front bumper of Terry Mathis' car (top) came together with the rear of Zach Stroupe's (bottom).