Daytona, Florida, November 10, 2002 - Team San Diego's Jay Messenger took advantage of Polesitter Peter Zarcades' misfortune in the ACRL "Veteran's Tribute" race, capturing his first-ever ACRL victory in the Super Sports 2000 class. Team Las Vegas...
Daytona, Florida, November 10, 2002 - Team San Diego's Jay Messenger took advantage of Polesitter Peter Zarcades' misfortune in the ACRL "Veteran's Tribute" race, capturing his first-ever ACRL victory in the Super Sports 2000 class. Team Las Vegas driver Zarcades blitzed the field in qualifying, shattering his own record set the day before with a blistering 1:59.650. Zarcades, one of the few drivers on sticker tires, led easily until lap six, when the engine expired. "I think it swallowed a valve," said a puzzled Zarcades after the race. "We geared high and were only revving to 7200 rpm." Messenger and teammate Paet Hidalgo battled for second spot early on, but Hidalgo faded when his engine began making ominous sounds. He retired two laps from the checker with a suspected valve problem. This elevated San Diego driver John Cavanaugh, coping with an evil-handling Lola, to second in class and fifth overall. Hidalgo got credit for third with Zarcades fourth. "I hated what happened to Peter, but I've had problems like that myself. I'll take the win," said a tired but elated Messenger in Victory Circle.
There was high drama in the Sports 2000 class, with the St. Louis trio of Duke and Mike Johnson and Jonathon Holzman battling fiercely for the first six laps with Mike in front. Chris Schneider of Team Philadelphia stayed with the group a few car lengths behind. He lost contact with the group when he took evasive action to avoid Cavanaugh's spinning Lola, then had mechanical problems that cost him several laps. Mike's leading position proved to be his undoing on lap seven, when he as the first to arrive at the oil slick left by Zarcades' blown engine. He spun and let Duke and Holzman by. Jim Johnson also spun, hitting the tire wall where the infield road course rejoins the high banking and joining teammate Zarcades as a DNF. Holzman held Duke off until lap 12, then retook the lead on lap 13. Coming to the checker, Duke was ahead again but Holzman made a heart-stopping slingshot pass out of the draft to take the win by inches. "I feinted right, and when Duke went high to keep me behind him he left room to the inside, and I went for it," said an elated Holzman after the race. "I was a little too conservative in the bus stop because it was getting slick, and he got a good run on me," said Johnson. Team Philadelphia driver David Suess finished sixth overall on the lead lap, while teammate Jim Stengel was 12th, one lap in arrears.
San Diego took the Western Division team win with 180 points, courtesy of a first and fifth, while St. Louis garnered 181 points (second and third) to win the Eastern Division team honors.
Zarcades' performance at Daytona tightened the Western Division SS2 points chase to a mere seven points, 666 to 659 over Team Fresno's John Ostlund.
The ACRL series, using a unique team racing concept, races Cosworth-powered Super Sports 2000 and Ford-engined Sports 2000 cars, with drivers required to run Hoosier ACRL-stamped R-45 compound tires and Union 76 110 Octane Leaded Racing Fuel.