Partelo Scores Underdog ASA LM Victory at Bronson by Steven Neely
Sean Murphy Comes Close on St. Patrick's Day
If one were to have taken a poll before the ASA Late Model South Series opener at Bronson Speedway (FL) about who would win the event, many would have said the names of stars such as Jeff Choquette, Bo Miller, Colt James, Chris Fontaine, or John Wes Townley. It’s doubtful that Rob Partelo’s name would have surfaced much.
Rob Partelo enjoys his trip to victory lane. (51 Photos)
But that might change in future polls after his performance on Saturday night. Partelo shocked everyone by taking his first series victory.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet, I still can’t believe that we did it,” said Partelo. “We didn’t expect to start well and run up front with a lot of those guys. It was tough with such a good field of drivers, but I’m so glad we did it.”
Luck on St. Patrick’s Day might have had to do with at least part of it. Fast-qualifier Fontaine drew a nine as the number of cars to invert, meaning the ninth-fastest driver would start on the pole. That happened to be Partelo.
“I had a good starting spot,” said Partelo. “We weren’t that fast when we got here this weekend. We really did struggle just making it in the race.”
Partelo overcame the early struggles, however, holding on to the lead for the entire duration of the Camp Boggy Creek 100. The rookie of the year contender had to earn the victory by battling against a number of tough competitors, including Bo Miller and Sean Murphy, who hounded Partelo in the last third of the 100-lap event.
“We got to second, had a couple shots on the leader, and got to his door,” said Miller. “It’s one of those deals where I maybe could have made the pass or we could have crashed, and we’re not into crashing racecars. You can’t win them all, but as long as we got a shot to win, we’re happy.”
Partelo, a veteran of Florida’s modified and late model ranks, was able to defend the preferred lower line of the track by braking harder going into the turns, forcing his challengers to seek a different line or risk causing a crash.
“Basically, I just held on, especially in turns one and two,” Partelo explained. “In turns three and four, I knew we had a tight race car so I had to keep it on the bottom or it wasn’t going to work.”
up with people running into each other, so I didn’t want to do that,” said Murphy. “Bo and I were talking afterwards and were telling each other how close and fun it was. I haven’t raced against a lot of these guys before. I’m just trying to earn respect right now.”
Miller agreed about the level of respect that was given.
“I have a lot of respect for both Rob and Sean, especially Sean,” said Miller. “They know I was trying to give the leader room since he was holding us up. I could have made a couple banzai moves, but I might have torn the car up and [Murphy’s car owner] Butch Miller’s car would have ended up winning it.”
The amazing underdog victory for Partelo meant a lot for the St. Petersburg, Florida native, whose small team only has a handful of crew members.
“We know we don’t have the engineers and stuff that a lot of the other guys have,” said Partelo. “We’re just a couple of guys who learned what we learned by hanging around the racetrack and we just got lucky.”
Results - ASA Late Model Series, Southern Division
Bronson Motor Speedway
14.156 James Wright, III100
Partelo is joined on the podium by Miller and Murphy.
Murphy searched for a way around Miller and Partelo, trying to pass without making too much contact. His good run was especially impressive since he was battling a stomach virus Saturday.
“The thing about this place is that if you’re leading and don’t have a car that’s handling well, you can just hold the bottom and still keep the lead,” said Murphy. “That’s what he was doing, he was just parking it in the corners and making you go high, which doesn’t work, or go down into the grass. It’s what you have to do at a place like this.”
All three drivers beat and banged their way to the checkers, coming across the line three-wide, each with their nose at the next car’s quarter panels. After a pre-race meeting in which the ASALM South Series officials emphasized that they wanted a clean race, the drivers took heed.
“The officials gave us a big lecture before the race about how they weren’t going to put