Lakeland: Season opener preview

ASA begins 36th season at Lakeland on March 22. Pendleton, IN (March 11, 2003) -- To kick off the 36th season of competition, the ASA Racing Series visits USA International Speedway in Lakeland (FL), for the Jani-King 200 on Saturday, March 22.

ASA begins 36th season at Lakeland on March 22.

Pendleton, IN (March 11, 2003) -- To kick off the 36th season of competition, the ASA Racing Series visits USA International Speedway in Lakeland (FL), for the Jani-King 200 on Saturday, March 22. Florida's premier short track hosts the season opening event for the fourth time and the race marks ASA's fifth trip to the .75-mile oval.

Scoring the first of nine victories in his 2002 championship season, Joey Clanton of Stockbridge (GA) won last year's season opener at USA International Speedway. For the second consecutive year, Clanton began the season with a dominating victory.

Clanton, in the number 83 car, took over race leadership from pole-sitter Gary St. Amant with an inside pass entering turn one on lap 43 and never looked back, leading the final 158 circuits. The victory was the fifth of his career and first at the Florida oval.

Rookie Kyle Busch took the lead at the start from his outside front-row starting position, but he suddenly slowed down the back straightaway, allowing St. Amant to move into first. Once Clanton grabbed the lead it was a battle for second between St. Amant, Kevin Cywinski, Dan Fredrickson and David Stremme.

The leaders only pitted once during the event on lap 110 when Mike Cope spun in second corner. Clanton was the first one in and out of the pits followed by St. Amant, Cywinski, Fredrickson and Stremme.

"It was all about the team today," said Clanton of the pit stop. Except for team owner Steve Dale and Bond Suss this was the first race for the crew. They really worked hard and it showed."

Clanton went on to win by 2.549 seconds over Cywinski, who passed St. Amant on lap 127 with Fredrickson and Stremme rounding out the top-five finishers.

"We ran the same set-up we ran for qualifying," said Clanton after taking home the lion's share of the $192,810 in posted awards. "We loosened the car up for qualifying and dialed it in right. It ran perfect all day long."

The 2003 season-opening Jani-King 200 at USA International Speedway begins on Thursday, March 20 with registration and technical inspection with a Team Welcome Reception closing the day's activities. On Friday, practice begins at 12:30 pm. with the track closing at 6 pm. On Saturday, practice resumes at 1 p.m. with qualifying scheduled for 5. The 200-lap event goes green at 9.

Tickets for the event are available through the USA Int'l Speedway with reserved seats priced from $25, $20 and $15 depending on seat location. Advance tickets to the season-opening event are sold at a $5 discount on each ticket by calling the track, 1- 800-984-RACE.

-asa-

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers David Stremme , Kyle Busch