Track Position And Handling Keys To The “New” New Smyrna by Steve Neely & Jason Buckley
Fritts Wins From The Pole Yet Another Day At New Smyrna
With the TBARA Winged Sprints running laps at the newly-paved New Smyrna Speedway on Sunday night, the Super Late Model drivers felt the groove would finally start widening out and produce more side-by-side racing action.
They were sorely mistaken.
Mike Fritts was in a class of his own Sunday night. (51 photo)
While the traction increased in the racing groove, the high line still had not come in. The wide Hoosier rubber from the sprints did nothing to increase grip, which lead to another night of sub-par racing in the 30-lap feature. It forced drivers to play follow the leader or punt someone out of the way just to gain a position.
Starting at the point was key for Mike Fritts, as he led the race start to finish. It was the third-straight night that the driver starting in the pole position led every lap and took the checkered flag.
However, track position didn't make his race a cake walk.
"We are not keeping up with the track getting tight," said Fritts. "We are going to make some bigger changes from now on out. We led the whole thing tonight, but were real tight the whole race. I was driving real hard to stay were we were."
Ryan Sieg ran behind Fritts from the drop of the green, unable to pass or even get in a position to make an attempt for the lead.
"I think we were a little better than the 27 (Fritts), but that is how it goes," said Sieg. "Second is always good. We are going to loosen it up a bit for the next race."
After skipping the first night of racing to make sure his car stayed in one piece, Jay Middleton had his car handling well, driving it to a third- place finish.
Ryan Seig has been fast all week long.
"We've got the car handling real good," said Middleton. "We are struggling a bit with motor right now. We are the only Chevy that is able to run up front. We need a little bit more, but (the handling) makes up for it."
Despite drivers getting a grip on the low line, the upper groove was still not raceable.
"There is no outside still," said fourth-place finisher Jeff Scofield. "It is getting a little better. We did stay out there a little, but it is tough. I hope when we come back, Tuesday it will be better."
"The track is getting better every day," said Middleton. "It is one of those things; we will see by the end of this week."
While some remain optimistic, others feel the second groove will not come in during Speedweeks.
"I hate to say it, but probably not this week," said Fritts. "Today I was up there warming up the tires a bit, but it still feels real slippery right now. Yes, (the TBARA Winged Sprints) should help a bunch, but as far as tonight, I couldn't tell much of a difference. It is going to get better, but to go up there to pass a car that is competitive with you is not going to happen."
With single-file racing, blocking becomes more of an issue, creating frustration under the helmet.
"The guys are blocking right now, but I do not blame them," said Scofield. "I am doing the same thing. No one is going to pass you on the outside. They are going to either going to move you or pass you.
"I have three cars, so if patience runs thin, I hope they came prepared."
SLM NOTES: Day Three
Choquette’s Night Ends In Wall
Jeff Choquette (#70) found himself hard against the wall after an incident with Brian scott (#01).
Saturday night’s Super Late Model feature winner Jeff Choquette went from the penthouse to the outhouse with a hard crash in turn one in Sunday night’s event. Choquette and Brian Scott were racing hard, nose-to-tail, when the two made contact, sending Choquette’s car hard into the outside wall on the driver’s side.
“My spotter told me he was looking and then when we went down in turn one he said I was clear,” said Choquette. “All I know is I ended up spinning and hitting the wall.
“In a 30-lap race, especially with how the track is right now, if he would have been underneath me, and if my spotter said he was underneath me, I would have given him the line,” said Choquette. “In a 30-lap race, you have to get all you can get. If it was a 50- or 100-lap race, and he was pressuring me real hard then maybe you let him go.”
Choquette gazed on at his crew members, who were thrashing to tear sheet metal off the car to see what the condition of the frame was.
“We’re trying to get everything off to see how bad it is,” said Choquette. “If it’s bent really bad, then we’ll go home and then maybe come back next weekend.”
Choquette was listed in 18th position at the conclusion of the race.
Scott Reacts to Choquette Skirmish
Brian Scott had his own views of the mid-race accident with Jeff Choquette.
“I was by his door on the straightaway,” said Scott, “and he kept coming down and coming down, and I got really close to the apron. I checked up and hit as much brake as I could and he kept coming down and the next thing I knew he was sideways. I feel real bad for him. I didn’t want an accident like that to happen.”
Jeff Choquette (#70) races with Brian Scott (#01).
Scott believes that the wreck was a product of the one-groove race track.
“He didn’t want to get hung out on the outside groove and let me and Scofield go by,” said Scott. “The bottom line is the way to go and he wanted to be down there badly. I don’t know if he just got scared of getting hung out up top or what.”
Scott went on to finish fifth in the event.
McLeod Doesn’t Get Down After Mechanical Problem
B.J. McLeod dropped to second in Super Late Model points in The World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, but he is not about to throw in the towel early.
After setting a new Super Late Model track record of 17.208 seconds on the new
asphalt of New Smyrna Speedway on Sunday, he slid back and settled in the top five before working his way through the field.
Then, the car slowed off of turn two with an oil pump problem.
“This car was just awesome, the best I’ve ever had,” said McLeod. “I was just playing with them out there the whole time.”
McLeod dropped out of the race in 15th place.
“We’ll get it fixed up and be back.”
Blank Beason Reflects on World Series of Asphalt
One of the competitors who drove the farthest to get to The World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing was Jonathan Beason. The Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, driver is making the most out of the week of racing, gaining experience and learning how to drive a new (and blank) car.
This all red car with no numbers actually belongs to someone in the field.
“This is only my ninth Super Late Model race and we just came down here to get lots of laps,” said Beason. “I’m learning a lot, and you have to learn that the track is only one groove right now, and you have to learn how to use the bumper a little bit.”
Beason is driving a brand-new car this week as well. So new, the left side has run without numbers on the door all week long.
“My ASA car is my old car from last year and the red car is a brand-new car. We’re actually trying to sell it, and we didn’t have enough time to put any numbers on it so we went with the old retro look.”
Beason is proud of running competitively against some of the best drivers in the country, finishing tenth in Sunday night’s event.
“We were out there racing with Jack Landis, and I know he’s a real good guy, and all
these Florida guys, just to be racing against them is pretty cool,” said Beason. “I’m pretty close to them too, so that makes it a lot better.”