ST: Anderson Impresses In 2016 Opener

Photo Credit: Jason Christley/NASCAR

By: Jason Christley/NASCAR

NEW SMYRNA, Fla. — Saturday night was the second time Cole Anderson had the fastest car at New Smyrna Speedway.

This time, the outcome was much better for the Minnesota teen. Anderson kicked off the 2016 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season by capturing the Red Eye 100, the Super Late Model opener, at New Smyrna Speedway.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Anderson said. “It means a lot. It says good things about this year, and I can’t wait to get it going.”

Defending race winner Bubba Pollard came home second, followed by Kaz Grala. Anthony Sergi, who won the Division I track title at New Smyrna last year, was fourth and Brad May rounded out the top five.

Anderson set fast time in qualifying in the Florida Governor’s Cup 200 in November but was involved in a wreck and watched Wisconsin’s Ty Majewski walk away with the victory. This time, Anderson again set fast time but had little trouble. He started fourth following an invert of the top four spots, and passed Grala for the lead on Lap 69.

“The car was just really good,” said Anderson. “I made the pass on Kaz and it was clear sailing from there.”

“I was just trying to be patient. My team, over the radio, reminded me to manage tires.”

For Pollard, his shot to become the first repeat winner since Jack Cook in 1994-95, went away when he couldn’t get around Grala in the middle stages of the race. He dropped back and lost second to Anderson, and once he finally got around Grala, Pollard never got another shot at the leader. The race went green the final 66 laps.

“If we could have gotten by him our first attempt, we could have possibly kept some distance,” Pollard said. “We lost too much ground trying to get by (Grala), it took too long, and (Anderson) got away from us.”

Jesse Dutilly finished sixth, followed by Travis Cope, Michael Atwell, Josh Collins and David Garbo Jr. Cope won the Red Eye 100 in 2014.

Earlier in the night, former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Mike Skinner rolled to a popular win in the Zack Donatti Memorial Pro Late Model 100, while Anderson came home second.