Lakeland Gary St. Amant; patience pays

ST. AMANT OPENS NEW ASA ERA WITH WIN LAKELAND, FL. - Veteran Ohio driver Gary St. Amant was patient in the early stages of the BFGoodrich Tires 200 and avoided a major incident following a restart to score the win on Sunday as the new Vortec ASA...

ST. AMANT OPENS NEW ASA ERA WITH WIN

LAKELAND, FL. - Veteran Ohio driver Gary St. Amant was patient in the early stages of the BFGoodrich Tires 200 and avoided a major incident following a restart to score the win on Sunday as the new Vortec ASA 5700 engine made its competitive debut.

Two years in the making, the Vortec ASA 5700 is the stock engine that is being used by all competitors during the ACDelco Series. At the same time a radial tire produced by BFGoodrich becomes the new official tire of the Indiana based series.

Driving the Wynn's Chevrolet, St. Amant started 14th in the 38-car field and patiently moved his way to the front. After making their only pit stop on lap 82, many of the front runners including Mike Eddy and Rick Beebe got caught up in a seven-car incide nt entering turn one.

Second year driver Rick Johnson in the Nationwide Auction Systems Chevrolet was out in front with St. Amant running second. On lap 115 St. Amant moved inside of Johnson entering turn one and grabbed the lead that he wouldn't relinquish.

Over the final 63 laps St. Amant kept Kevin Cywinski in the LaFavre Racing Chevrolet and defending ACDelco Series champion Tim Sauter in the Build-A-Mold Chevrolet at bay despite two more caution periods.

It was St. Amant's 15th career victory and marks the second time he has started the beginning of a new decade with a win in an ASA season opening race. St. Amant scored the win in the 1990 season opener at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway.

"We really wanted to win the first race of the new era," said a smiling St. Amant in victory lane at USA International Speedway after collecting $18,700 of the $209,950 purse. "The engine ran good for us all day and the tires were awesome."

St. Amant said he's glad that some veteran drivers like Cywinski, Butch Miller, Scott Hansen and Mike Eddy returned to full time ASA competition in 2000.

"I've always loved racing against the tough dogs," he commented. "It's good racing against these guys because they race you clean."

St. Amant said he knew that the key to the race would patience early in the BFGoodrich 200.

"I knew we had to have patience," said St. Amant. "Early in the race I wasn't patient and started racing hard with Larry Foyt and decided it was time to ride for awhile."

He said missing the lap 87 seven-car incident was the key part of the race.

"Dodging that big wreck was about the most excitement I had all day, except for being in victory lane," explained St. Amant. "The only reason I missed the wreck was because I was just a little further back in the field."

Cywinski, the 1997 champion, started fourth in the field and raced with the lead pack all day long taking the lead briefly from teammate Mike Garvey in the Tecumseh Chevrolet early in the race.

"It's fun to be back," said Cywinski. "I tried to put pressure Gary (St. Amant), he never gave me the line I needed. I'm looking forward to going to the next race."

He said the Vortec ASA 5700 engine ran great and makes everyone equal. Cywinski said to make a pass a car has to be superior or another driver has to make a mistake.

Sauter, the 1999 champion, started seventh in the Build-A-Mold Chevrolet and although he never led a lap was always hanging around the top five.

While running second on lap 137 Sauter was tapped by Cywinski coming off the second corner, did a complete 360 degree spin and recovered to only lose one spot.

"We were just riding early in the race," said Sauter. "We didn't know what to expect with the engine and tires and we were concerned about the brakes. We were also a little off on our pit stop."

Of the incident with Cywinski, Sauter said the pair were racing hard and Cywinski got a good run off the corner and they made contact.

"This is a good way to start the new season," said Sauter. "We want to run in the top five, just like we did last year."

Pole sitter Garvey lost the lead at the start to outside front row starter Brandon Sperling in the Crookston Poured Wall Chevrolet. Sperling led until lap seven when Garvey drove inside entering turn one.

Garvey lost the lead on lap 33 to Cywinski but reclaimed it on lap 49 and remained in front until all the leaders pitted for the only time on lap 82.

Gary St. Amant entered his name into the American Speed Association history books Sunday afternoon at USA International Speedway, winning the BFGoodrich Tires 200 to open the 33rd season of racing for ASA.

St. Amant, of Columbus, OH, paced the final 85 laps to earn his 15th career ASA victory, earning $18,700 of the $210,000 purse. St. Amant edged former Busch Grand National and Craftsman Truck Series driver Kevin Cywinski by just .178 seconds, with 1999 ASA National Champion Tim Sauter placing 3rd.

St. Amant's victory was of great significance, as the BFGoodrich Tires 200 marked the first competitive application of a factory production engine in a nationally touring stock car series, with the debut of the General Motors Vortec ASA 5700, virtually the same engine that powers Chevrolet Corvettes, Camaros, and the Pontiac Firebird. Each of the 38 cars in the starting field utilized the Vortec ASA 5700, mandated for use in all competing models for the 2000 season and beyond.

The event also marked the debut of the BFGoodrich Traction TA radial tire in ASA competition, the first use of radial tires in the sanctioning bodies history. Both the new engine, and the new tire performed virtually flawlessly during the event.

"This package, the engine, the tire, the whole deal ASA has put together should represent the future of stock car racing," St. Amant commented from the winners circle. "My car ran great all day, but winning here was anything but easy!"

St. Amant took the lead for the first and only time on lap 115 from 1999 rookie of the year Ricky Johnson. There were six different leaders who each held the point with polesitter Mike Garvey of Michigan finishing eighth.

The 2000 ASA ACDelco Series season resumes on Saturday, April 8 at Lanier National Speedway in Gainesville, (GA). The Discount Auto Parts 300 will take the green flag at 9 p.m. (Eastern). The event will be telecast live on TNN Sports.

<pre> Unofficial Results

FN ST NO. Driver/Hometown Sponsor/Make LAPS STATUS

1 14 7 Gary St. Amant/Columbus, OH Wynn's/GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chev. 200 Running 2 4 21 Kevin Cywinski/Wausau, WI LaFavre Racing Teams Chev. 200 Running 3 7 9 Tim Sauter/Necedah, WI Build A Mold/Moldplas/Trimplas/ A.P. Tool Chev. 200 Running 4 8 22 Rick Johnson/El Cajon, CA Nationwide Auction Systems/ Herzog/AFCO Chev. 200 Running 5 2 40 Brandon Sperling/Yorba Linda, CA Crookston Poured Walls Chev. 200 Running 6 12 33 Greg Stewart/Four Oaks, NC Screaming Eagle Motorsports Pont. 200 Running 7 21 6 Dave Sensiba/Middleville, MI MCSports.com/Prestige Truck Accessories Pont. 200 Running 8 1 1 Mike Garvey/Lakeville, MN Tecumseh Products/LaFavre Racing Teams Chev. 200 Running 9 6 14 R Larry Foyt/Houston, TX Harrah's/Terre Haute 1st Nat'l Bank/ A.J. Foyt Pont. 200 Running 10 25 09 R J.C. Beattie Jr./Baltimore, MD ATI Performance Products/ RUS Uniforms Chev. 200 Running 11 33 57 R Gary Sherman/Holt, MI J & K Communications Pont. 200 Running 12 15 44 R Mark E. Dismore/Greenfield, IN Monster.com/MCI Worldcom/Herzog Chev. 200 Running 13 23 27 R Philip Kranefuss/Mooresville, NC Mobil 1/Hamke Race Cars and Parts II Chev. 199 Running 14 3 8 R Robbie Pyle/Columbus, OH Young Motorsports/JVM Enterprises Chev. 199 Running 15 20 87 R Wayne Willard/Buford, GA Easy Care/Johnson Industries/ Jerry Brown Chev. 197 Running 16 35 80 David Anspaugh/Sturgis, MI Diesel Repair Specialists/1st AYD Pont. 196 Running 17 16 11 Tristan Dupuis/Lansing, MI M&M Ice Cream Cookie/Freschetta/ Meijer Pont. 195 Accident 18 11 5 Scott Hansen/Green Bay, WI Structural Transport/ Fanetti Motorsports Ford 195 Running 19 19 52 Butch Miller/Coopersville, MI Meijer/Banquet/Cheez-It/Red Baron/ Stouffers Pont. 195 Running 20 13 18 Mike Miller/Woodstock, GA Jani-King/Miller Motorsports Pont. 189 Running 21 18 83 R Joey Clanton/Stockbridge, GA Pro Shocks/Racing Radios Chev. 188 Running 22 32 4 R Teri MacDonald-Cadieux/Whitby, ON GM Goodwrench Service Plus/ Snap-On Tools Pont. 188 Running 23 37 28 Tim Taylor/Indianapolis, IN EMAS Inc. Ambulance Service/ Taylor Racing Chev. 187 Running 24 30 19 Dennis Lampman/Oak Creek, WI Barricade Flasher Service/ Lampman Racing Chev. 186 Running 25 27 03 Ken Alexander/Anderson, SC Greased Lightning/A&M Cleaning Products Chev. 186 Running 26 24 53 R Buddy Gainey/Grand Rapids, MI Gainey Transportation/Bissell Chev. 185 Running 27 28 01 R Johnny Sauter/Necedah, WI Murray/LaFavre Racing Teams Chev. 184 Running 28 17 07 Jack Landis/Edgerton, OH Yoder Racing Ford 183 Running 29 10 2 R Chad Wood/Madison, WI Musgrave Motorsports Ford 160 Running 30 29 93 Alec Pinsonneault/Windsor, ON Build A Mold/Moldplas/Trimplas/ A.P. Tool Chev. 137 Radiator 31 38 79 Billy Turner/El Reno, OK Big Daddy's BBQ Sauce/ Motorsports Supply Pont. 136 Engine 32 22 23 Rick Beebe/Merriam, KS AFCO/Hodges Motorsports Pont. 105 Accident 33 34 0 R Tracy Goodson/Pensacola, FL Blue Dolphin Racing Pont. 99 Clutch 34 5 88 Mike Eddy/Midland, MI eWeb21.com/Caribbean Golf Classics/Howe Chev. 87 Accident

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Larry Foyt , Tim Sauter , Johnny Sauter , Mike Miller , Joey Clanton , Jerry Brown , Teri MacDonald , Greg Stewart , Butch Miller , Mike Garvey , A.J. Foyt , Ricky Johnson , Scott Hansen