Anderson Runs Off With Sunbelt Triple Crown Win by Steve Neely
Scofield, Sieg Battle On And Off Track At Lakeland
Wayne Anderson was all over Victory Lane on Saturday night at Lakeland, while there was plenty of other action behind him. (51 Photos)
When Tropical Storm Barry threatened the FASCAR Sunbelt Series race at USA International Speedway, most drivers were not expecting to get the race in.
However, while most of the tracks in central Florida abandoned activities due to heavy rain and wind gusts of 50 mph, USA International’s program went on as scheduled, and the lingering rain bands held off long enough for fans to see “Hurricane” Wayne Anderson storm off with the trophy in the first race of the Triple Crown Series, the Brighthouse Networks 200.
“I saw the radar last night and I thought we were going to run it tomorrow,” said Anderson. “I’m glad we got it over with, though.”
He got it over with in a hurry, too. After leading for 31 laps in the first half of the race, he pitted for tires with most of the leaders after a lap-102 caution. Anderson then charged past teammate Ryan Sieg and drove away from his nearest contenders.
He finished a full straightaway ahead of a hotly-contested second-place battle, making landfall in victory lane for the first time in 2007 in the FASCAR Sunbelt Series.
“Wow, what a race,” said Anderson. “It just shows you what hard work, preparation and having your act together can do. And we proved that tonight. I tell you, we got a good motor from Dan O’Connell and this Port City car ran good at Speedfest down here, and we just had our act together. We did a little bit of testing and we feel good. We’re just tickled to death for such a great run.”
Anderson’s main threat all night was the #12 car of Justin Drawdy, whose car handled exceptionally well on the night’s longer runs and chased down Anderson more than once over the course of the night.
“In the first part of the race, I really felt like I had the second-best car,” said Anderson. “The 12 car
of Drawdy seemed like the best car, and he did extremely well early in the race. I think he must have gotten a bad set of tires. We did a little work on our car during the pit stop and it helped it out.”
After pitting for tires just after halfway, Anderson found himself behind Drawdy and three other cars who did not pit. He weaved in and out of the slower cars before retaking the lead for the final time with 80 laps remaining in the race.
“I was behind Drawdy after the pit stop,” said Anderson. “I had to pass him and a bunch of others to get the lead. I had such a good race car though. All I had to do was just hit my marks and wait for the laps to run out.”
Meanwhile, the night’s biggest controversy came on lap 166, when Drawdy, Sieg and Jeff Scofield went three-wide on the frontstretch. Sieg and Scofield’s cars made contact, sending Sieg’s car hard into the turn one wall.
There were plenty of words being exchanged between Ryan Siegs team and Jeff Scofield's team on Saturday night at Lakeland.
After the conclusion of the race, the eye of the storm was in front of Sieg’s hauler. As Anderson was celebrating his win in victory lane, Scofield’s team and Sieg’s team got into a scuffle when Scofield stopped in front of Sieg’s hauler to discuss the incident. A couple of punches were thrown before it was quickly broken up, and one member of Scofield’s team was seen walking away with a bloody nose.
“The 07 (Scofield) just came down through the opening in the pit wall and just stopped,” said Sieg. “I don’t know why he was coming over here. He can come over here all he wants. I was just telling him like it was. He hit me in the right-rear. It seems like he does that to people a lot. It just sucks. Every time we run good, something like New Smyrna where we’re leading and got wrecked, stuff like that happens.”
Scofield described the accident from his point of view, saying the real culprit for the wreck was the car ahead of him, Drawdy, driving too aggressively.
“When you get pinched off of every f----n corner, you can’t do anything,” said Scofield. “I had a good race, backed out of it and then the 39 clipped me in the left front and I think broke the upper A-frame. It’s a shame, because we made a couple pit stops, came from the back twice, and I don’t know if we had anything for Wayne but we had a hot rod. Drawdy was running good, but being a little rougher than I think he needed to.”
Scofield talked about the post-race skirmish with Sieg’s team, explaining that he stopped because he could not get through to his hauler, which was located about four haulers away from Sieg’s.
“Ryan Sieg, I guess it is, in the 39 car got a little hyped up a bit,” said Scofield. “I guess he thought it was intentional, and one of his teammates stood in front of the car. They don’t know us, and if they want to fight, we’ll fight. So, we did. It happens. If I intentionally hit somebody, I’ll be the first to say I’m sorry and I’m wrong. Tonight, I felt like Drawdy was running his line and pinched me a little bit. I backed out of it to keep from hitting him, and Sieg split me. If he had held the bottom, I’d have let him there, but he came up.”
The final 30 laps of the race were all about Anderson though, who checked out to his largest lead of the night, nearly six seconds, in the closing laps. The second-place battle heated up and Drawdy, who had been protecting the bottom lane, was passed by both Dwayne Dempsey and Tim Russell on the high side with only a handful of laps remaining.
Anderson credits his team’s preparation for allowing the car to be setup right from the time they unloaded off the hauler.
“We didn’t actually make many changes during practice,” said Anderson. “We tested out here early in the weekend, and the track really fell off a bit because of all the rain, so I think we just made the right changes. It was a little too snug for the race, so we freed it up on our pit stop and it really helped it.
"It just goes to show that I had my act together. I’ve been helping Ryan Sieg, too. He’s been running real well, and he had a great run going tonight and it’s unfortunate that he got taken out. My second set of tires really felt like it was good on the long runs, and it never really changed too much.”
Notes – FASCAR Sunbelt Series Triple Crown Race #1
Dempsey Avoids Trouble, Scores Important Runner-Up Spot
Dwayne Dempsey, the veteran driver from nearby St. Petersburg, FL, seemed to come out of nowhere to contend for his best finish this season. After hanging in the top five or ten cars all race long, he made his move in the last run of the race to climb all the way into second-place.
“Tim Russell kept getting into the 12 car (Drawdy), and he kept getting him loose, getting him loose, getting him loose,” said Dempsey. “Then finally, he got sideways enough that they both had to get out of the gas, and when they did, I had to go, and it worked. Usually when you make a move like that, you end up in the fence or something.”
He credited patience as the reason why he was able to stay out of trouble and claim a top finishing position.
“You just have to be patient here though since it’s a longer race,” said Dempsey.
“People were banging into each other and taking each other out, and we were just trying to keep ourselves in a position to have a good finish.”
Crockett’s Night Ends Earlier Than Expected
Another driver hoping for a top finish at USA International Speedway was Land O’ Lakes driver Scotty Crockett. However, on lap 102, his night ended with a hard wreck into the turn one wall.
Scott Crockett's wrecked #28.
“The car was real good, I was just waiting for them to put tires on it and stuff and I was just riding around,” said Crockett. “I went down into turn one, and Robert Yoho just drove in too far and turned us around. It spun around, hit the front and killed the front clip, bent the whole thing over, and bent the radiator, spindle, shocks, the whole front end, part of the motor, the oil pan. It definitely wasn’t a good deal.”
Although his night ended on a bad note, Crockett felt like he had a good car due to a little bit of added help prior to the race from Jeff Scofield.
“This is his old car,” said Crockett. “He was just trying to shoot me in the right direction, but he was real busy trying to get his car working, as well. I think we actually had something really good for everybody. We’ll get up there next time, but a new clip on it, new body on it, and go out there and get them at New Smyrna.”
Crockett was credited with a 20th-place finish.
Larson Wins Pole, Impresses in Super Late Model Debut
Justin Larson made his Super Late Model debut Saturday night, and did it in style, by winning the pole with a 20.770 lap at USA International Speedway. Although outside pole sitter “Rocketman” Wayne Jefferson grabbed the lead from Larson on turn one, Larson patiently waited in second until a restart on lap 31.
“It wouldn’t go into high gear,” said Larson. “It got jammed up. We’re going to check that out and make sure everything’s alright.”
Justin Larson had plenty of media around him on Saturday night at Lakeland.
After being hung out on the outside groove, Larson settled in tenth-place and was working his way back through the field when he developed brake issues on his Skinner Nurseries #88 machine. Then, on a lap 138 restart, Larson and another car made contact, sending him spinning down the frontstretch and into the wall.
“We had such high expectations,” said Larson. “We came into the race and qualified good, and I mean, just to finish would have been good, but that didn’t happen. The brakes were fading about halfway through the race, but the car was real good, even without brakes. It would drive up off the bottom. I think if we would have had brakes, I think we could’ve been top 3 at the end.”
He also talked about what he learned about racing a longer race in the more powerful FASCAR Sunbelt Series Super Late Models.
“Every time you get in the seat you learn more and more, especially patience, and knowing when to just ride,” said Larson. “Really, it was a long race. You just have to
stay there until the end. You don’t have to do it early. The last lap’s the one that counts.”
Larson finished the race in 19th.
Drawdy Says Tires Cost Him Victory
Early leader Justin Drawdy probably didn’t seem like the person who would be complaining about tires after seeing his performance in the early and middle stages of the 200-lap event. After passing Wayne Jefferson for the lead on lap 40 and again on lap 86, he checked out to a three-second lead at times.
However, he says that he felt like his tires were mismatched in a way that actually hurt him.
“When we came here, everybody had their tires picked out,” said Drawdy. “That’s up to the officials, but I hope they change it next time because we got here and every team here had their tires picked out and we got junk tires. We made our first set work, and even though we were out front, the tires were only decent. The second set of tires were just junk, and we went straight back.”
Drawdy slid back to finish fourth after getting passed by Russell and Dempsey near the finish.
“I was just trying to hold Tim off,” said Drawdy. “We were junk. He was definitely better than us, and the car was just extremely loose and I was just trying to hold him off as best as I could. The 59 (Dempsey) got past us and then so did Tim.”