Clanton Dominates in ASA Opener at Lakeland Lakeland (FL) (March 24, 2002) - Joey Clanton of Stockbridge (GA) took over race leadership after 43 laps and never relinquished the top position en route to winning ASA's season opening event, the WJ...
Clanton Dominates in ASA Opener at Lakeland
Lakeland (FL) (March 24, 2002) - Joey Clanton of Stockbridge (GA) took over race leadership after 43 laps and never relinquished the top position en route to winning ASA's season opening event, the WJ Plemons Investments 200 presented by Jani-King at USA International Speedway.
It was the second consecutive victory for Clanton in ASA's season opener. Last year he took the checkers at St. Augustine Speedway. It marks the fifth victory in only his 41st career start.
Rookie Kyle Busch of Nevada took the lead at the start from his outside front row starting position. Pole sitter Gary St. Amant passed Busch on the third lap and held the lead until Clanton passed the two-time former ASA Champion coming out of turn one on the .75-mile oval.
A single pit stop for the leaders following the fourth of nine cautions flags brought the leaders in for their lone pit stops. The stops came on lap 110 and were solid for the primary event pacesetters; Clanton, Kevin Cywinski and St. Amant. The running order was unchanged as they came back onto the track. Clanton was never seriously challenged and eventually ended the race having topped the field for the final 157 laps.
"We've made some changes with our team adding a new crew chief (Bond Suss) and a lot of other guys," said Clanton. "They are obviously very good as we've only been together about a month. My car was handling just perfectly."
St. Amant finished third behind Cywinski after starting from the pole. "We also had a real good pit stop and frankly a decent car," said the Columbus (OH) driver. "I just didn't have anything to get Joey (Clanton) and barely was staying with Cywinski at the end. I'm looking forward to California next time out. I think we'll have a pretty good year."
Clanton pockets $16,000 for the victory and will take the early season points lead to Irwindale Speedway for ASA's next event.
The 2002 ASA Racing Series will return to LA's ½ mile super speedway for the tirerack.com 300 presented by BFGoodrich Tires on Sunday, April 7 at 1 p.m. (Pacific). It will be ASA's second appearance on West Coast. The race will be telecast live on TNN (The National Network) at 1 p.m. (Eastern).