ASA LEFTOVERS: ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY by Jeremy Troiano
Auburn Car, Garvey Wins, Reffner Comes Close & More
GARVEY GETS THE GOLD IN RACE, BRONZE IN CHAMPIONSHIP
Mike Garvey knew he had to win the race and that Kevin Cywinski had to have some bad luck in order to win the championship.
Friday, only one of those happened.
Garvey won his fifth race of the season, more than anyone else, and swept the races in his homestate of Georgia, taking the World Financial Group 150.
“This is huge for us, especially after such a heartbreaker at Charlotte,” said Garvey. “Today we had some problems too. We had a flat tire when we ran something over in caution. These guys just stuck with it and it paid off. I’ll tell you what; it feels good to win the first ASA race in a long time at Atlanta right here at home.
“I didn't know if I was going to be able to pass Bryan (Reffner) or not. He was fast too. I kept trying to fake him. It looked like he was kind of indecisive as to which was to go and I just barely got my nose under him to where he couldn't block me down. Bryan is a smart racer and I knew he would give me room.
“We wanted to win bad here at home, so we swept all the races in Georgia and that is what we wanted to do.”
Mike Garvey grabbed his third win of the season. (51 Photos)
But on Friday night, Reffner did everything he needed to. He led a lap, gaining him five bonus points, and led the most laps, earning him another five points.
“We had a good night and had a good car. We missed some of big wrecks out there tonight. Mike just snuck by us. We had that one wreck missed where the top three guys got wiped out, but we hit a huge piece of debris there and it caved in the left front fender and that got us tight. That was all Mike needed.
“He had a strong car though. Being in the lead wasn’t the place you wanted to be if you had some guys line up behind you.
“He didn’t need that last caution. If we were going to have a chance, we didn’t need to see that. Oh well, not much more you can do about it now, it is all over.”
SONTAG'S SOLID RUN EARNS HIM ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
If the chase for the championship in ASA was exciting, then the chase for the Rookie of the Year title was downright wild.
At the end of a wild night, where it looked as if anyone of the four drivers within 55-points of each other had a shot for the title. But at the end of the night, a strong and consistent run by Brett Sontag earned him rookie honors by a slim margin over Wade Day.
“It is big to win this with guys like Reed Sorenson, Johnny Sauter and David Stremme winning it recently and moving on to bigger things,” said Sontag. “I’d love to move on just like every racer coming from the short tracks. We'll just have to see what happens.”
It wasn't really easy for Sontag to get to his seventh-place finish in Atlanta either.
“I now what these Cup guys are taking about when they talk about these types of races being a chess match. It was pretty exciting out there. I almost got in the wreck with the 06 car (Kyle Krisiloff) there. We just missed that. That about ended my night. Both of those guys were in front of me and spinning and there was smoke everywhere. Both went shooting in front of me.
“We played the game right and kept it out of trouble.”
Speed51.com will have more on Sontag's Rookie of the Year run in the coming weeks.
GOOD RUN RUINED LATE FOR LOCH
Rich Loch appeared to be on his way to his best career finish in ASA competition, running well in the top-six late in the race before a slipping clutch caused the “other” rookie in the series to fall back to an eventual 13th-place finish.
Brett Sontag (#71) races with Reed Sorenson (#29). (51 Photo)
“It was pretty frustrating for us because the car was really pretty good most of the time I was here,” said Loch. “Right at the start of the race I notice that the clutch started slipping. We tried everything we could to fix it during the night. The restarts were killing me and then guys would suck up and we’d start over-revving the thing.”
“It is frustrating that we could have had that much better of a run, well inside of the top-10.”
Loch, who finished the year with just one top-10 finish, said he was lucky to survive the crash-filled race.
Rich Loch had a great race at Atlanta before slipping back at the end. (51 Photo)
“Tonight was more about survival. There wasn’t a whole lot of give and take out there. I think not having happy hour and getting some guys to run in a pack together really hurt us.
“It could have been really ugly. But our car is in one piece, so I guess that is good. If we have a series to run next year, hopefully we’ll be back.”
RUNNING WITH MARTIN A TREAT FOR DAY
The last few laps at Atlanta were very exciting, for the fans, and also for rookie Wade Day.
Day, who took part of Roush Racing's “Gong Show” last week, ran side-by-side with Roush Racing's Mark Martin during the last few laps in a two-by-two pack that also included Brett Sontag and Peter Cozzolino.
For Day, it was an honor to get to work with Martin and run side-by-side with one of NASCAR's biggest stars.
The win left Garvey third in the championship point standings, close behind Cywinski and Reffner. The final point standings have not yet been announced by ASA.
“We did everything we could do. Our guys dug and dug and dug all year long. We won five races and no one else won more than one. At Charlotte we got taken out racing. We came here to win and that is all you can do.”
REFFNER DOES ALL HE CAN
Bryan Reffner did just about all he could to win the ASA Championship in 2004.
Reffner ended the year about as hot as anyone on the circuit. With seven-straight top-10 finishes, including one win (at Milwaukee) and a number of runner-up finishes, including at the finale in Atlanta, Reffner finished just 10 points behind Kevin Cywinski for the Championship.
“The whole year we would have never guessed we would have been so close for the championship especially since our year just started out horrible,” said Reffner. “Then we found out we just missed the championship. That is pretty tough, because you look back at all the shoulda-coulda-wouldas during the year and you just see so many places you could have made up those 10 points.
One place that comes to mind is at Kentucky, where Reffner was leading late into the race, dominating the event, when his engine began to overheat after a piece of tape got stuck to the grill. He dropped back, eventually finishing eighth.
“We survived and that's a plus,” said Day. “You had to have help and we were trying to work with Mark (Martin) there at the end. When I needed it at the end I didn’t have it that is for sure. The draft was everything out there tonight. If you didn’t have help, you were done.
“I was a little better than (Martin) was. I wanted him to go with me at the end, but I just don’t think his car was good enough.
“He came up to me at the end of the race and said he didn’t have enough to push me.”
Day finished fourth, but fell just short of the Rookie of the Year title to Brett Sontag.
FOOTBALL TEAM OUT SHINES RACECAR
Wade Day (#96) ran a good race, but fell short of the Rookie of the Year title. (Bob Milner Photo)
Auburn University's football team is pretty good this year. In fact, they are ranked third in the country.
But Auburn University driver Marc Mitchell wanted to outshine the football team on this one weekend. But it was not to be.
Mitchell, who was running in at the end of the lead pack for much of the middle portion of the race, cut a tire and slammed into the outside wall on lap 57, bringing out the final caution of the night and ending his bid for a top-10.
Mitchell's Auburn car was fast. (51 Photo)
“We had a good top 10 car,” said a disappointed Mitchell after the race. “We got into a little fender bender earlier and I think we damaged something on the right front and on that lap there it blew out and we tagged the wall. It is a bad ending to a good story. We’ll take this Auburn car and try to come back next year.
“This was just a one off race and it is disappointing to end it this way. We'll just bring Auburn back and try it again sometime.”
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