NEW SMYRNA, FL – As the old saying goes, sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good.
Monday night at New Smyrna Speedway, Jon McKennedy was both of those.
When Ryan Preece suffered a part failure leading a 31-car Tour-Type Modified field on lap 43, the Chelmsford, Massachusetts, driver didn’t let an opportunity slip by him.
McKennedy led the final seven laps of the 50-lap feature as part of the 52nd annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing — and found himself carrying the checkered flag when it was over.
The victory came in McKennedy’s first start behind the wheel of the No. 7 Accell Construction modified for Tommy Baldwin — a picture perfect start for the new pairing.
“I knew we would run good,” McKennedy said upon exciting in Victory Lane. “Tommy has great equipment, he’s smart, and he’s a great guy. The whole package was there. We were pretty much dominant all day.”
McKennedy definitely had plenty of speed. he was at the top of the charts when time trials finished — but had to start sixth following an invert, creating an uphill battle.
And for much of the race, it didn’t look like McKennedy would be the car to beat. Preece started on the pole and was the dominant force for the first 43 laps until misfortune struck.
The part failure that ended the night for Preece just added to an already rough stretch for the Berlin, Connecticut, driver who was forced to change a motor in his car during practice on Monday. He also viciously crashed
“Just a part failure,” a frustrated Preece, who also had to change a motor in practice, said. “We just can’t catch a break. We have a fast race car. I run a different suspension then a lot of people, just trying to get heat in the rear tires, and it just forced something to break. I just want to get through a night without a problem.”
McKennedy was so shocked that Preece pulled down pit road that he almost followed him there. Officials directed the field down pit road earlier in the race when track crews checked for fluid on the half-mile.
Luckily, McKennedy elected not to follow the leader.
“We were really even, the race was going to come down to me or him either way, McKennedy said. “Just a great way to start 2018.”
Kyle Ebersole finished second, while Chuck Hossfeld finished the podium. Matt Hirschman and Patrick Emerling rounded out the top five.
In Super Late Model action, Jeff Choquette added his fourth victory of the 2018 season at New Smyrna. Choquette won the Red Eye 100 and Marion Edwards Memorial 100 in January, and picked up his first win of the World Series on opening night in the Pro Late Model class last Friday.
Choquette started just outside the top five and took over the lead from Brad May on a restart on lap 24. Just before that restart, Ty Majeski and Harrison Burton got together racing for the lead and Majeski went spinning in turn three. Both drivers went to the tail end of the pack, but Burton, who won the SLM feature on Saturday, rebounded to finish fourth.
In the 35-lap Pro Late Model feature, Cole Anderson captured his second straight victory.
Racing at New Smyrna continues on Tuesday night with a 50-lap Super Late Model feature. The Tour Type Modifieds (35 laps), and Florida Modifieds (75 laps) will also join the card.
All nine nights of the World Series are airing via a live stream on FansChoice.TV.