Daytona will roar Sunday
It is just three days untill the 2017 Daytona 500. The 125-mile qualifiers will run this evening and for the first time in many years they will be points-paying races.
These races will tell us a lot about how cars are prepared for the 500. Chase Elliott captured the pole position by literally thousandths of a second over Dale Earnhardt Jr. Each of these drivers will lead their qualifier race to the green because the field is divided into two groups to set the field for the 500.
After rains washed out the Clash on Saturday evening, the 17 drivers lined up Sunday morning with beautiful weather. There were several incidents and Joey Logano pulled out the victory as Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin tangled entering the first turn of the last lap. Kyle Busch and Alex Bowman battled to the finish line for second. Danica Patrick made a run from 10th to fourth and was beside the battle for second at the finish line. Kevin Harvick finished fifth. Brad Keselowski held on to finish sixth. Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez, Chris Buescher, and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top ten.
Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch were eliminated in crashes and Kyle Larson was disqualified for having too many pit crew members over the wall to correct crash damage and sent to the garage.
Last Saturday the ARCA 200 was also run at Daytona. Austin Theriault was flagged the winner over Terry Jones when the race was called due to a large crash which damaged the safer barrier. In that crash, Justin Fontaine was injured, receiving a concussion and a compression fracture of the L1 vertebra. Shane Lee, pole setter Tom Hessert and Dalton Sargent were all poised to make a run for the win but had to settle for their top five finishing positions at the red flag.
In local racing news we have lost another area and Elkins Raceway legend — Bood Lodge passed away. Bood was one of those larger than life characters whose stories are still talked about today in bench-racing sessions! I guess Red Fredrick needed some competition on the red clay of Heaven. I wonder if there is racing up there.
We covered the first two nights of racing at East Bay Raceway last week. The Lucas Oil dirt Late Model series was set to finish the week with three points-paying nights of racing.
Feb. 16’s evening event was washed out by Mother Nature. However, Thursday night saw 42 of the finest Super Late Models in the nation fill the pits. Scott Bloomquist was able to take the victory over Josh Richards. Johnathan Davenport finished third. Tim McCreadie and Don O’Neal rounded out the top five. Area racer Tim Dohm finished 11th. On Friday the 17th, 45 racers filled the pits. Josh Richards set fast time. Young Michael Lake of Morgantown won his heat race to transfer to the A Main.
In B Main action, Zack Dohm transferred by finishing third in the first one. To show the quality of cars, the second B Main was fought out by Tim McCreadie, Davey Johnson and Scott Bloomquist to transfer. Tim McCreadie started 18th in the A main and was able to work his way to victory lane with an outstanding drive. Don O’Neal finished second. Josh Richards was third. Jimmy Owens and David Breazeale rounded out the top five. Scott Bloomquist finished seventh. Among area racers, Corey Conley was 19th, Michael Lake 21st and Tim Dohm finished 25th to end their East Bay runs.
On Feb.18, the action moved to Screven Motor Speedway in Screven, Georgia. This time The World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model series was the sanctioning body.
Pennsylvania’s Rick Eckert took the win over North Carolina’s Chris Madden. Brandon Overton, Tyler Erb and Brandon Sheppard rounded out the top five.
WoO action changed tracks and moved to Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida. The winged sprints were there and a serious accident took place at the start of their event. The car of Dale Blaney began to tumble and flip and it cleared a 10-foot-high catch fence and landed in the pit area, striking three crew member /spectators. A man from Michigan was the most seriously injured, and was listed in stable but guarded condition at the hospital there. The crew chief for Justin Allgaier Motorsports was also injured. The team stated that he should recover from his injuries but may be sidelined for the remainder of the year. The other injured person was from England and was treated and released from the hospital.
The Super Late Models took to the track and Brandon Sheppard put the Rocket Chassis house car in victory lane by passing Scott Bloomquist on the high side on the last lap. It was a race that seemed to not be good for leaders. Bloomquist led early then fell back. Josh Richards then took over but was passed by Don O’Neal, but they were both caught up in a spin by a slower lapped car. This accident sent Richards pit side to remove the front nose and took O’Neal from the event. Bloomquist inherited the lead until that final pass by Sheppard. Dennis Erb Jr. finished third. Earl Pearson Jr. and Frank Heckenast Jr. rounded out the top five. Richard brought his battle scared car home 10th.
Wow! Quite a week in Florida and the biggest events are yet to come. Today the twin 125 qualifiers start things off. Then the Camping World Truck series kicks off its season on Friday. The XFinity series races their season opener on the high banks Saturday and on Sunday, the Great American Race, the Daytona 500, will kick off the regular season for the new Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series.
I’ll try my best to bring you all the action because at the end of the straight there’s Another Left Turn!