January 18, 2014 — By Jason Christley, NASCAR — Speed51.com photo — NEW SMYRNA, Fla. — Travis Cope insists he doesn’t have New Smyrna Speedway figured out.
The results indicate otherwise.
Cope led the final 92 laps in a dominating performance Saturday night en route to winning the 12th Annual Pete Orr Memorial/Orange Blossom 100. It’s his third straight NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model win at the banked half-mile.
With the win, the 25-year from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., adds his name to recent winners — and rising stars in the sport — of the Pete Orr 100: Kyle Larson (2012) and Kyle Benjamin (2013).
“That means a lot,” Cope said. “Those two kids, I’ve raced both of them. They’re outstanding race car drivers. It means a lot – it’s pretty cool to have your name on the same trophy as them.”
Rich Clouser finished second, followed by Mike Garvey. Brad May and Mario Comparetto Jr. rounded out the top five.
Cope won the final event of the track’s 2013 Triple Crown to claim the three-race series title, and then captured the 2014 opener in the Red-Eye 100 on Jan. 4.
The inaugural Bruce Gowland Memorial 100 on Feb. 11 will be the final leg of the 2014 Triple Crown. The race will also wrap up the track’s 48th Annual World Series of Stock Car Racing, a week of racing that will include the inaugural NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at New Smyrna on Feb. 16.
Saturday’s win put Cope one win away from a second straight Triple Crown.
“I’m not sure if we figured it out, really,” Cope said. “We’re still working on it, trying to make this car better. This is a tough thing to do. It’s more fun than anything trying to make this thing go fast.”
Cope drew the pole. He lost the lead on the first lap to Comparetto, and nearly lost another spot to Matt Tifft. Cope worked his way into the lead on Lap 8 and led the rest of the way.
His only issue came on Lap 38 when the lapped car of Clayton Castetter spun in front of him in Turn 1. Cope went around trying to avoid the accident. Track rules dictate cars do lose their position for that, putting Cope back on point.
From there, he had clear sailing.
“I like long runs,” Cope said. “Thats what I hope for every time I come out to the race track. That’s when it seems our car is good.
“For a little bit at the end, I was just trying to save my tires. I just knew there was going to be a caution. Fortunately, there wasn’t.
Daniel Keene Jr. finished sixth, followed by Alex Labbe, xxx, David Rogers and Rich Clouser.