Suarez Starts Season Strong at Smyrna

By on February 17, 2014

Lee Pulliam (11) raced with Daniel Suarez all night. Pulliman finished 5th (photo Rodney Meyering / RSEN)

Last night was night number 3 of this year’s edition of The World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing brought NASCAR’s K & N series to New Smyrna Speedway.  This would mark the first NASCAR points paying race to visit this high banked half mile in the speedway’s almost 50 year history.
Cameron Haley, a west series regular, would run fastest of 30 cars making a qualifying attempt and would elect to start on the outside of the front row.  This would give Ben Rhodes the inside spot for the start.  Hayley would get the jump at the start with Rhodes falling into second and Brandon McReynolds to third.  Kenzie Ruston has figured out that the high line works here and comes from 6th to take the lead by lap 5.  The top 8 cars all scramble for position with Hayley dropping back.  Lap 10 sees Ruston fade as Gray Gaulding takes the point, this last till lap 14 when Brandon Jones goes to the front.  We are almost 25 laps into this 150 lap race and things finally settle down, Suarez gets past Ruston for 3rd, Jones still leads with Gaulding 2nd.  As the leader approaches lap traffic, the first yellow appears for car 55, Jerry Dawson, spinning in turn 2. 

Cameron Haley (98) looks to get under Daniel Suarez (photo Rodney Meyering / RSEN)

The first restart of the race and Suarez moves past Gaulding for second,  he works on Jones for 15 laps and takes him for the lead on lap 50.  100 laps to go.  As Suarez pulls away, the rest of the field appears to be in ride mode, saving their equipment and tires for this long race.   The race is about to reach the halfway point and the yellow flies for only the second time, Rusty Skewes is in the turn 4 wall.
The race is stopped for a break halfway through.  No tire change is allowed, fuel and adjustments only.  Can anybody make their car good enough to catch Suarez?   Saurez takes the outside for the restart, followed by Jones, Gaulding, Pulliam, Ruston and Hayley.
Saurez, Pulliam, Jones and Hayley provide some great racing for the second half of the race, pulling away from the field.   25 laps to go sees Hayley and Jones side by side for 3rd, Saurez pulling away from Pulliam.  Less than 15 to go and Saurez is lapping cars left and right, while Hayley is reeling him in.   One late caution for a single car incident makes it a ten lap dash to the finish.  Looks like Suarez and Hayley will fight for the trophy.   Dust flies on the restart as Saurez gets the jump from the high side.  4th through 10th battle 3 wide, cars sliding everywhere, they all hang on to it, we are still green.   Two laps to go and 1st and 2nd are even, Saurez or Hayley?  White flag, Hayley low, Suarez high,  Saurez wins by a nose, taking his second career K & N win.

Daniel Suarez, Monterrey Mexico (photo Rodney Meyering / RSEN)

Unofficial Finishing Order:
1
6
Daniel Suarez
150
2
98
Cameron Hayley
150
3
33
Brandon Jones
150
4
41
Ben Rhodes
150
5
11
Lee Pullliam
150
6
96
Kenzie Ruston
150
7
20
Gray Gaulding
150
8
21
Mackena Bell
150
9
46
Brandon Gdovic
150
10
31
Kaz Grala
150
11
99
Patrick Staropoli
150
12
52
Matt Tifft
150
13
24
Brennan Newberry
150
14
16
Brandon McReynolds
150
15
15
Nick Drake
150
16
1
David Garbo Jr
150
17
71
Eddie MacDonald
150
18
97
Jesse Little
150
19
04
Ronnie Bassett Jr
150
20
43
Brodie Kostecki
150
21
34
Scott Heckert
150
22
4
Sergio Pena
149
23
2
Ryan Gifford
149
24
42
Jay Beasley
149
25
75
Nathan Russell
148
26
07
Clint King
135
27
22
Austin Hill
116
28
18
Sam Hunt
104
29
51
Rusty Skewes
66
30
55
Jerry Dawson
58

Gray Gaulding (20) gets into Kenzie Ruston. Ruston finished 6th and Gaulding 7th. (photo Rodney Meyering / RSEN)

Kenzie Ruston (96) takes the high line around Ben Rhodes. Rhodes would end up finishing two places ahead of Ruston in 4th place (photo Rodney Meyering / RSEN)

Brandon Jones, Atlanta GA, ran well enough to get a podium finish at 3rd (photo Rodney Meyering / RSEN)

Brandon McReynolds (16) , racing the first year with a new team finished 14th (photo Rodney Meyering / RSEN)

Sergio Pena (photo Rodney Meyering / RSEN)

Teenager and Scott Turner Motorsports team member, Kaz Grala (31), had an impressive 10th place finish (photo Rodney Meyering / RSEN)

Mackenna Bell (21) finished 8th races inside of Jesse Little (photo Rodney Meyering / RSEN)

Suarez celebrates in victory lane (photo Rodney Meyering / RSEN)

Daniel Suarez was all smiles during the trophy presentation (photo Rodney Meyering / RSEN)

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