Russell wins Goodyear Challenge
May 28, 2005
by Dave Westerman
Longwood's Tim Russell didn't get a very good start in
the Goodyear Challenge 100 Friday night at Orlando
Speedworld, but he bided his time and wowed the crowd by
using the outside groove to do his passing on his way to
a very popular victory.
Twenty-two Goodyear Challenge Late Models were on hand
with veteran Chuck Burkhalter setting quick time at
13.699 seconds in the Independent Ukranian Adoption
Chevy. Rich Clouser, behind the wheel of Bobby Sears'
Daytona Dodge Chrysler entry, was second quick with
young Sam Watts timing in third fastest just ahead of
Russell and Canada's Jerry Artuso.
Tate Pierce had the pole for the 100 lap main event but
the original start was aborted following a big crash in
turn one that eliminated Don Hess, Joey Strehle and Rich
Pierce shot into the lead as the field finally took the
green but outside pole sitter Travis Cope missed a shift
and stacked up the outside row behind him including both
Russell and Clouser. Cope managed to pull his car off
the track but several of the top drivers now found
themselves having to play catch-up as Russell crossed
the line 12th on the opening lap.
Pierce led the opening two laps but Artuso took over at
the end of lap three despite some damage to the right
front corner of his car after he got together with
another machine just after the drop of the green.
Action continued with Artuso leading a tight freight
train until caution flew on lap 14 for debris on the
track. Joe Winchell pitted to replace a flat tire while
Chuck Burkhalter's car slowed to a stop under yellow. He
could not get it re-fired and his machine was pushed to
the pits as Winchell re-joined the field at the back.
Artuso continued to set the pace for twenty more green
flag laps until Troy Atkins spun in turn two to bring
out the second caution.
The field went green for several more laps before Jeremy
Fitch hit the back stretch wall. Fitch came around turn
four and got tangled up with Joe Gentry to bring out the
caution once again.
The field took the crossed flags for half-way under
caution with the top ten Artuso, Pierce, Watts, Russell,
Clouser, A.J. Currelli, Bill Ostriker, Greg Kaouk,
Charlie Kopach and Winchell.
Russell was now on a mission as he took to the outside
groove and passed Watts for third on lap 64. Three laps
later Bill Ostriker spun to bring out the caution. As
the field slowed, Watts got into another car and tore
the right side body work off his car. After a quick
check by track officials, Watts was allowed to continue.
On the restart, both Pierce and Russell really began to
pressure Artuso. Pierce made a move on lap 77 but spun
in the process to bring out the yellow flag once again.
Rather than go to the rear of the field, Pierce opted to
take his car off the track.
Russell was on Artuso's bumper for the restart, and,
after trying several inside moves, jumped up on the
outside groove again and finally made his pass stick on
lap 89. Russell then speed away from the field to claim
the win while Artuso held off the challenges of Clouser
to settle for second. Watts held on for fourth with his
damaged car while Winchell had the drive of the night
coming back up to fifth after pitting early to change
the flat tire. Currelli, Kopach, Ostriker, Richard Parks
and Gentry competed the top ten.
Russell dedicated the win to crew member Keith Royston
who lost his father, long-time race fan Frank Royston, a
few days earlier.
1. #36 Tim Russell, Longwood
2. #5 Jerry Artuso, Ontario, Canada
3. #9 Rich Clouser, Palm Bay
4. #73 Sam Watts, Winter Springs
5. #57 Joe Winchell, Davie