Daytona Beach FL, 2-11-01, -- With 24 lead-lap machines lined up in the mirror and a five-lap shootout looming, an undaunted Ryan Newman, in Roger Penske's ALLTEL Ford, held off the hungry pack of ARCA RE/MAX Series warriors Sunday afternoon at ...
Daytona Beach FL, 2-11-01, -- With 24 lead-lap machines lined up in the mirror and a five-lap shootout looming, an undaunted Ryan Newman, in Roger Penske's ALLTEL Ford, held off the hungry pack of ARCA RE/MAX Series warriors Sunday afternoon at Daytona Int'l Speedway to win the thrilling 38th annual Discount Auto Parts 200 presented by ACDelco.
Newman, who led the final 12 laps of the 200-miler, managed to keep veterans' Bob Strait, Frank Kimmel and Kirk Shelmerdine at bay long enough to cross the final stripe just .210 seconds ahead of runner-up finisher Strait in Mark Thompson's Dauphin Tech Ford. Kimmel finished a close third in front of Shelmerdine in fourth while rookie Stuart Kirby, in his career-first superspeedway start, finished an impressive fifth in Bob Schacht's Dunkin' Donuts Ford. It was Newman's fourth RE/MAX Series win in only six attempts.
"It was actually hard enough just to get to the front," said Newman who started 11th. "We weren't sitting there sandbagging at all. We were just holding on. Frank (Kimmel) and I had a pact to stay together and that's what we did. We had similar cars and we wanted to work together to get to the front. Frank's a clean driver. He could have nudged me some there in turn three when I cut him off a little bit, but I had to do what I had to do to win the race. I've seen races won and lost because somebody didn't watch their mirror."
The final caution period, one of seven in the event, came out just eight laps shy of the finish when Kerry Earnhardt, with a little help from his closest neighbor, spun down through the tri-oval setting up the spectacular 5-lap shootout to the finish.
Shelmerdine, in the CLR Ford, won the Old Milwaukee Pole Award for the second consecutive season and led the first three laps before defending RE/MAX Series champion Kimmel raced the Advance Auto Parts-Pork White Meat Ford to the front to lead up through lap 21. Daytona Beach native Dan Pardus then took command of the lead when most of the front-runners came in for pit service during the second caution period. Pardus held on for 14 circuits in Jim Gardner's Outdoor Channel Chevrolet before outside polesitter Ricky Hendrick maneuvered his way past. Hendrick, with Winston Cup driver Jeff Gordon spotting, led for 33 laps until Newman, with a train of cars behind him, drafted on by during a restart as the field had just completed the 68th lap of the 80-lap event. Once Newman got out front, the South Bend, Indiana native refused challenges from a variety of veterans for the remaining laps to earn the hard fought victory.
Bobby Gerhart, in the Venture.com-Ernie's Chevrolet, finished sixth ahead of Shawna Robinson who raced the Pacific Garden Ford home in seventh. Blaise Alexander charged from the 22nd starting position to finish eighth in front of Hendrick in ninth. Keith Segars, in the Jerry Hamm Chevrolet, raced from a lap down to finish 10th.
Seven caution periods slowed the event for 42 laps and kept the field bunched tightly together for the entire distance providing some anxious moments for many. The most frightening crash occurred on the 18th lap off turn four when rookie Donny Morelock hit Ron Cox's machine in the rear end causing Cox to spin. Cox slammed hard into the inner retaining wall in the tri-oval while Morelock continued on. Cox was then taken conscious and alert to the infield care center and later released after being treated for a fractured left elbow, a contusion of the left shoulder and a concussion.
Dion Ciccarelli, in only his second RE/MAX Series start, finished 18th on the lead-lap and was credited with the ARCA Highest Finishing Rookie award. BSR Outside Pole Qualifier Hendrick won the Loctite Halfway Leader award while two-time Daytona ARCA 200 winner Andy Hillenburg won the Hoosier Performance Hard Charger Award and the Thermo-Tec Cool Move awards for finishing 17th after starting 41st.
Next event for the ARCA RE/MAX Series will be at the new 1.33-mile concrete Nashville Superspeedway on April 13 in conjunction with the NASCAR Busch Series.
TOP-10 ARCA RE/MAX SERIES POINTS: 1. Kirk Shelmerdine 240, 2. Bob Strait 235, 3. Ryan Newman 230, 4. Frank Kimmel 220, 5. Stuart Kirby 215, 6. Ricky Hendrick 215, 7. Bobby Gerhart 200, 8. Shawna Robinson 195, 9. Blaise Alexander 190, 10. Keith Segars 180.