Murphy Wins - Artuso Champion SAMSULA, FLORIDA - Sean Murphy avoided a massive lap seven wreck because of an oil spill and won the season finale FASCAR Goodyear Challenge Late Model Series 100 Saturday night on New Smyrna Speedway. "I really...
Murphy Wins - Artuso Champion
SAMSULA, FLORIDA - Sean Murphy avoided a massive lap seven wreck because of an oil spill and won the season finale FASCAR Goodyear Challenge Late Model Series 100 Saturday night on New Smyrna Speedway.
"I really have to thank Progressive Engines, who have stuck with me all year and Bob Schich at AMS Chassis," said Murphy.
"This was my first win on an oval track so it was real special to me, because we came from road course racing to oval track competition and it was a lot different."
"I guess I got hooked up with the right people," continued Murphy. A good combination of a team and myself finally got clicking at the end of the 2002 season. This year we had a lot of good runs. A couple of times we were running in the top-five and as they say a win was just waiting to happen."
This was Murphy's second career Goodyear victory. Murphy previously won the 2002 race on Sebring International Raceway. The race winner held the point the final 93 circuits and finished with a straightaway length margin of victory.
The overall FASCAR Goodyear Challenge Late Model Series championship was decided by two crew chiefs, who kept the one and two points leaders in still in competition.
Jerry Artuso a Canadian driving ace was crowned 2003 Goodyear Challenge Series champion in his T. D. Thomson Construction ride and a strong Rich Clouser finished second in his Advanced Auto car.
Things happened quickly as Jimmy Castleberry blew and engine and was heading into the pit area when the lead group of cars behind him started to slide around with the crunch of sheet metal entering turn three.
Murphy, who was running fifth and was the only car from first to ninth that missed the oil. The sliding metal munching fiasco destroyed seven cars including early leader Clouser and Artuso, but both managed some how to recover.
The wreck sent Artuso, Clouser, Brent O'Neill, Jason Boyd, Jerry Symons, Tim Clark and Martin Pierce to the pits. The evening then became the survival of cars in line for the Goodyear championship.
The repairs became a race within a race for Artuso and Clouser.
The right people were in Artuso's pit area including former NASCAR veteran Joe Harris, who has done work for Rick Wilson and Brett Bodine. What was accomplished in about 21 minutes was unbelievable according to Artuso, who also had help from Briar Corporation, Boyd Racing, David Rogers, Artie Pierce and his crew.
"The Symons crew also came over and said if I needed anything to come and take it off their car," said Artuso. "This whole thing was just unbelievable."
"The rear end, panhard bar and rear suspension were severely damaged or needed replacing," continued Artuso. "They couldn't even get the tire off and they cut the valve stem off, but no air came out so they put a knife to the side wall to get the tire off the back. The rod was gone and the suspension parts on the left front were also gone."
Bobby Sears was quickly working with Clouser's car that had some major work to do in order to keep Clouser in pace for a championship shot at Artuso. Sears made the best of his situation with repairs in this go-for-broke situation.
Jason Boyd set fast time in the 17 car qualifying field turning the one-half mile high banked oval in 18.653 seconds or 96.50 mph in his Tom Donnely Plumbing ride. Boyd would be done for the evening following the lap seven wreckage.
Only four cars would finish on the lead lap and Chad Pierce was the top finishing rookie.
Crossing the stripe behind Murphy were Mark Stevenson driving the Madico Window Film car and Pierce in the Architectural Sheet Metal ride.
Rounding out the five were Charles Kopach and Richard Parks of North Carolina in the Fuel Promotions car.