Hanley Has Been Doing "Speedweeks" For A Long Time
Finally, Junior Hanley seems to be back on track and as dominate as ever. Hanley won the 30-lap race at Smyrna on Friday night, his second win in a row, but first coming by taking the checkered flag first.
"When you win a race and you really win it by racing, you feel good about it," said the Canadian start. "(Thursday) night, I didn't feel good about it because someone got disqualified, but I get disqualified a lot too. I guess you win however you can."
Hanley was racing a familiar face for the win, as he and fellow Sunoco Super Series regular Scott Hantz battled for the top spot in a fierce battle for over 10-laps. Hanley made a move not to many people had seen during Speedweeks, an outside pass to take the top spot from Hantz.
It surely isn't like Junior Hanley lacks in experience at New Smyrna Speedway. He's got thousands of laps at the fast Florida half-mile and has been racing there since most of today's competitors were still in diapers or had their training wheels. But his normal strong runs have precluded Junior this week, at least until the last few days.
a bunch of guys on the radio telling him where to go. He couldn't make that many moves by himself."
On several occasions, Hanley had a big run on Fritts, but Fritts would throw a block here or there and keep Hanley behind him. On one occasion, Hanley had Fritts passed completely, but the caution came out and Fritts was able to regain his position.
"I went low, he blocked low. I went high, he blocked high," added Hanley. I guess I might have done the same thing. If that is how he wants to win the race, then that is the way he can win it."
"Junior has a lot more laps around here than I do," said Hantz. "This is only the second time we have been here.
"We struggled somewhat early in the week. We had a car we built just for Smyrna. It wasn't running up to par, so we got the Sunoco car out and it is working a lot better. Our car has been just fast enough to stay out of trouble. I haven't been fast enough to battle with the leaders until
tonight, so I have just been running around fifth or sixth every night. Tonight we let her go and ran with the leaders."
But Friday night belonged to Hanley, who has had a tough Speedweeks, with only one win and two top-five finishes in six races heading into Friday. With two wins a row, Hanley appears to be ready for Saturday night's big 100-lapper.
Hanley knows what it takes to win at Smyrna. His experienced is unsurpassed.
"I like coming to New Smyrna because there is nothing to do in the winter," said Hanley. "I've been coming down here for a long time. I remember when we used to race nine nights, now we race for eight.
"I was here the first time Mark Martin came here. I was here with a lot of guys, like Dick Trickle, heck the first time I came here Pete Hamilton (Daytona 500 winner) was racing here and he annihilated the whole field. I've been here ever since then."
Hanley used that experience to intimidate Hantz.
"I thought I might have had it but Junior kept bumping me. I said I would give him the outside and if he could take it, he could have it. And that is exactly what he did.
"It's not intimidating. I just wish I could give it back to him a little more. I look at him less when he is behind me and I know he is going to be up to something. I will react when I feel it."
Scott Hantz had his best run of Speedweeks.
Saturday nights 100-lapper should be very interesting, as Wayne Anderson locked up the 2003 Super Late Model Championship with his fourth-place finish. Anderson accomplished the feat driving the #92 owned by his father, legendary racer Dick Anderson. Wanye's #84 was hurt in an accident on Thursday night more than initially believed.
"This championship really means a lot," said Anderson. "I wish I could have done it in the #84, but it was nice to be able to run my dad's car and keep it in the family. It takes a lot of pressure off of tomorrow's race and we can throw some things at this car. Unfortunately, I can't race too crazy, because this isn't my equipment."
We'll have more from Anderson and his championship later.
Wayne Anderson took the wheel of his father's #92.
Junior Hanley jumped up to fourth in the points heading into the final night's program, but he can finish no better than third. BJ McLeod and Scott Hantz are locked in a tight points battle for second and third, with only eight points separating them.
The night's big accident involved James Powell, Chris Fontaine, Bob Fox and Jeff Weinfurter. Powell got turned around on the front stretch following a early restart and everyone else just piled it. Powell entered the night fourth in the points.
Hanley set the night's quick time for the fifth time in the seven nights. The top-10 starters were inverted, so Hanley won the race from 10th spot.
Randy Gentry, who sat 10th coming into Friday night, failed to make the start after being involved ina big accident on Thursday.
Jason Boyd captured another Limited Late Model victory and locked up the points championship for the second year in a row.
Junior Hanley finally got to take Victory Lane photos.