Orlando, Florida native Sean Bass claimed the victory at New Smyrna Speedway in the first event of the 2010 Sunoco National Tour Series season on Saturday night. Bass, who set a new track record for the Sunoco National Tour Series cars at New Smyrna Speedway in qualifying, drew an eight for the invert and took the green flag on the outside of the fourth row. Bass sliced his way through the field like a hot knife through butter in the early laps, charging from the eighth starting spot into the lead on lap eight. Bass wrestled the lead away from A.J. Henriksen on lap eight and would go on to lead the remaining 192 circuits without ever being seriously challenged.
The first yellow flag of the new season flew on lap 48 when Terry Horak and Brian Blum collided on the front stretch while racing for 8th spot. Horak appeared to move up the racetrack in an attempt to clear Blum, however his sponsorspeed.com Chevy Camaro was not clear and made contact with the Coulter Motorsports Camaro of Blum. Blum climbed the front stretch wall while Horak spun at the entrance of turn one. Both drivers continued in the race, but suffered damage that forced them to spend time in the pits making repairs. Horak finished the night in 7th two laps down, while Blum managed to come home in 8th four laps off the pace.
Under the yellow, Chase Elliott gave up third spot to bring his Aaron's Ford to the attention of his pit crew. Elliott had radioed to his crew that the car was tight in the center, so the team made some chassis adjustments to free the car up. Elliott restarted in ninth at lap 54 and began to work his way back to the front. Chase's father, 1988 NASCAR Cup champion Bill Elliott, served as the spotter and helped guide Chase back to the front of the pack.
As the race drew near its halfway competition break, it was clear that Sean Bass had the car to beat. 2009 ASA Late Model Series South Division Rookie of the Year, Austin Kirkpatrick was running second, while Bryan Ortiz, Brent Downey, and A.J. Henriksen were involved in a slug fest for third. Chase Elliott got back to sixth spot before the yellow flag flew for the second time on lap 97 for an incident on the back stretch involving Port Orange, Florida driver Casey Caudill. Caudill was assisted from his car by emergency crews and was treated for an injury to his knee. This brought the race to its halfway point and allowed teams to have a ten minute break to make adjustments to their cars.
One lap after the restart at lap 101, A.J. Henriksen and Bryan Ortiz made contact in turn two while battling for third. The end result was Henriksen spinning and doing a complete 360, and Terry Horak getting collected in his second incident of the evening. Both drivers were able to continue although both cars did receive cosmetic damage. When the green flag came back out, Sean Bass jolted away from the rest of the field. Austin Kirkpatrick maintained his spot in second, while Brent Downey held down third over Bryan Ortiz. At lap 131, 15 year old Chase Elliott worked his way through traffic around Ortiz for fourth then followed suit on lap 158 sliding past Downey into third.
With 20 laps remaining in the race, Elliott had tracked down second place Austin Kirkpatrick. Elliott worked his way to the outside of Kirkpatrick off turn two into the second spot, but radioed to his crew that he had dropped a cylinder and brought his Aaron's Ford into the pits. Further inspection showed a fuel problem had robbed the Dawsonville, Georgia youngster of a top three finish. While Kirkpatrick and Elliott battled side by side, Downey closed the gap and joined the fray. After Elliott dropped off the pace, Downey drew his sights on Kirkpatrick. With only five laps remaining in the race, Downey moved to the inside of Kirkpatrick entering turn one and the two made contact sending Kirkpatrick's Sonny's BBQ machine into the outside wall. Downey continued with no major damage to his Commonwealth Engineering Ford Mustang. Kirkpatrick however was done for the evening.
The green white checkered finish saw Sean Bass do what he had done all night, pull away from the rest of the field. Bass took the checkered flag ahead of Brent Downey, Bryan Ortiz, Joey Gase, with A.J. Henriksen rounding out the top five.
“The RWH Corporation/Superior Coating Systems car was fast all weekend,” said an ecstatic Bass in victory lane. “My crew chief Duane Zdrowdowski made all the right adjustments on the car and it paid off. This team deserves it more than anything, the last few years we have had really bad luck and it's nice to be able to get the team back in victory lane.”
Bass will attempt to get back in victory lane on May 14th at Rockingham Speedway in Rockingham, North Carolina. Rockingham is the second stop on the Sunoco National Tour Series schedule and will be the second annual visit for the series to “The Rock”.
“Me and my guys are really excited about going to Rockingham,” said Bass. “I am really looking forward to racing on a fast, high banked, one mile oval.”
For more information about the Sunoco National Tour and the ASA Late Model Series, please visit each website. For the Sunoco National Tour, go to the newly revamped and still in progress site at: www.sunoconationaltour.com. For the ASA Late Model Series, the website is located at: www.asalatemodelsnorth.com. And for more information about Sunoco Race Fuels, visit them at: www.sunocoinc.com.
The Sunoco National Tour and ASA Late Model Series are their own entity and not endorsed, sponsored or affiliated in any way with ASA Racing, American Speed Association or the ASA Member Track Program. The Sunoco National Tour and the ASA Late Model Series are operated by Ron Varney.