Daytona race report

Montgomery, mighty-man at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH FL (2-8-03) -- With an Alice Cooper assist, 19-year-old Chase Montgomery performed like a seasoned veteran en route to his career-first ARCA RE/MAX Series triumph Saturday afternoon at Daytona...

Montgomery, mighty-man at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH FL (2-8-03) -- With an Alice Cooper assist, 19-year-old Chase Montgomery performed like a seasoned veteran en route to his career-first ARCA RE/MAX Series triumph Saturday afternoon at Daytona Int'l Speedway.

With 21 lead-lap machines lined up in the mirror, Montgomery, who started third, led the final 26 laps holding off veterans' Bob Strait and Billy Venturini long enough to win the Advance Discount Auto Parts 200 in his 29th RE/MAX Series start.

"I'm thrilled; this is my first win period," said Montgomery. "I did win a go-kart heat race once, but this is remarkable. The more I talk to people, the bigger they make it seem. At least it opens some people's eyes so they know who I am now. We announced that we are partners with Alice Cooper earlier today. This is our first race with him. I don't know if he's a good luck charm or if we just had all our ducks in a row. I'm going to make him come to the next one."

While Montgomery was enjoying his first-ever victory in major league racing, Cooper was entertaining himself with his very first on-site racing experience. "It's amazing," said Cooper. "I'm going to retire now -- undefeated. I was telling him (Montgomery) it's like getting your first number one record. You can't explain it. You work all your life for it and all of a sudden it happens. I can't imagine how excited he must be to win this."

Montgomery chased Old Milwaukee polesitter Bobby Gerhart most of the way with Venturini and Keith Segars in tow. Montgomery finally got a nose under Gerhart and made the pass for the lead off turn four to lead the 55th circuit. Then Gerhart, after leading 51 laps in the 80 lap race, cut down a tire and made two unscheduled pit stops for service while Montgomery, along with most of the front-runners, pitted just once for fuel and tires during the 200-mile race. After Gerhart fell out of winning contention, Montgomery took over the lead with Strait, who had charged from the 18th starting position, lined up directly behind. But with plenty of drafting help from Venturini, Segars, Frank Kimmel, Rick Carelli and Greg Sacks to name a few, Strait, nor any others, could muster up enough steam to blow by the eventual winner. Montgomery crossed under the final stripe .176 seconds ahead of Strait who finished second in the Hendren Motorsports Pontiac with Venturini, in the Enco Tools Pontiac, trailing in third.

In all, 22 cars finished on the lead lap continually mixing things up with thrilling two- and three-wide racing that kept things perpetually interesting. Also in the mix were seven cautions that slowed the race for 29 laps to clean up debris from a variety of wall-bangers including one from Jason Jarrett who got a nudge from Tony Ave after the checkered flag fell and slammed the wall hard in turn one. Jarrett was okay but his Pontiac was destroyed. Additionally, Shelby Howard, Aaron Call, Justin Ashburn, Tim Turner, Jeremy Clements and Matt Hagans were involved in race-ending accidents. No drivers were injured.

Segars, in the Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q Chevrolet, finished a close fourth in front of Kimmel who had the highest finishing Ford with a fifth place finish in the Advance Auto Parts-Pork car. Carelli, in the RE/MAX Int'l Chevrolet, steered his way from the 27th starting position to finish a solid sixth with Winston Cup veteran Greg Sacks, who started 30th, trailing in seventh in the Jiffy Lube Ford. Andy Hillenburg, in Stan Hover's Ford, raced from the 33rd starting position to eighth in the final running order ahead of veteran Mark Gibson who finished ninth in the Williams Brothers Lumber Pontiac after starting 32nd. Christian Fittipaldi, who started 7th in the #43 Kyle Petty Racing Dodge, gave Dodge its best finish in tenth. Through all of Gerhart's troubles, the two-time Daytona winner managed to cling to the lead lap and battled back from the tail-end to finish 14th.

Hillenburg picked up the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions while Chelsea, Michigan newcomer Bill Eversole won the Highest Finishing Rookie honors for his 15th place finish in his first Daytona start.

The next activity for the ARCA RE/MAX Series will be the Atlanta ARCA 400 live on SPEED Channel from Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 8 from 1-3 pm eastern.

CURRENT TOP-10 ARCA RE/MAX SERIES POINTS:
1) Chase Montgomery 245
2) Billy Venturini 235
3) Bob Strait 220
4) Keith Segars 210
5) Frank Kimmel 205
6) Rick Carelli 200
7) Bobby Gerhart 195
7) Greg Sacks 195
9) Andy Hillenburg 190
10) Mark Gibson 185.

-arca-

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Kyle Petty , Frank Kimmel , Tony Ave , Chase Montgomery , Andy Hillenburg , Bobby Gerhart , Jason Jarrett , Shelby Howard , Rick Carelli , Billy Venturini , Tim Turner , Mark Gibson , Justin Ashburn , Jeremy Clements , Aaron Call , Greg Sacks , Matt Hagan
Teams Williams