Byron Claims Orange Blossom, Smith Takes Speedweeks Title

It was a clean sweep of the biggest prizes at New Smyrna for Donnie Wilson Motorsports.

Share

Top
hero image for Byron Claims Orange Blossom, Smith Takes Speedweeks Title

By the end of seven races in nine nights, it was Donnie Wilson Motorsports standing supreme in the Super Late Model division of the World Series of Asphalt at New Smyrna Speedway.

William Byron claimed both 100 lap races, including the Orange Blossom 100 on Saturday, while teammate Sammy Smith took the championship with one victory and an average finish of 3.28. It’s a continuation of a theme that has manifest throughout the past two seasons -- highlighted by Chandler Smith’s victory in the Snowball Derby and Smith winning the Winchester 400.

Byron ran three of the seven races, recovering from a broken bump stop in qualifying on Sunday to finish eighth before winning the Clyde Hart Memorial 100 on Monday and the Orange Blossom on Saturday.

The lessons learned driving through traffic on Sunday paid off in the big money races.

"It just came down to how to manage my runs," Byron said. "Like, on Monday, I was taking it too easy in the beginning and really hard by the end, and just didn't have anything in the middle to challenge them. Plus, we were really tight. We kind of worked on that, refined some things, got some more turn and worked on drive off.

"The rears get really hot with these cars. Tried to stay smooth."

After making a pair of Super Late Model starts last year in the Midwest with Chris Wimmer, Byron wanted to make additional appearances in 2022 and a relationship with team manager Bond Suss led to him driving one of the most successful cars in the discipline.

"Donnie is awesome, and between him and Bond, it explodes my brain how much Late Model knowledge is between them," Byron said. "To be honest, they’ve taught me things I didn’t learn the first time around."

Byron will drive the Wilson No. 24 at least a half dozen more times this summer and building towards his Snowball Derby return.

It’s been an education for Smith over the past several years too, and he would tell you there is still much to be learned in the same way that his Cup Series winning teammate for the week is also still learning. Smith won on Thursday night to take the championship lead and claimed the Speedweeks prize with a podium, but that’s not what he came to New Smyrna to accomplish.

"It doesn’t really mean anything to me, to be honest," Smith said. "I wanted to win this race and that’s all that matters to me every night. We started 10th and with no cautions it was tough. We did the best we could, car was really good, got a little tight as the top lane came in throughout the night."

The Orange Blossom 100 ran green-to-checkered without a caution and that did Smith no favors.

"That goes to show you how good our car really was," Smith said. "It just wasn’t good enough. Congrats to William, they earned it."

The championship might have been won and lost on Thursday night, right before the feature when points leader Derek Griffith realized he had chipped a pinion gear on his rear axle and it completely broke in the closing laps.

Smith won that night.

Griffith and company replaced the axle overnight after finishing 10th but were off their usual pace and finished 11th on Saturday night. The mechanical gremlins cost Griffith a shot at matching Pete Orr (1992-94) as the most recent driver to win three consecutive World Series championships.

"So, we’re thinking it might have been broken for quite a while," Griffith said. "Our setup acted completely different tonight. We were completely free, and we had a vibration off the corner, and I really hope I didn’t break another one to be honest.

"It we could have just been a little better, we could have had a shot at it, but we’ll take it apart and see what we find."

Stephen Nasse, Brad May and Jesse Love also won Super Late Model features throughout the week. Byron claimed two out of the three he started while Smith and Griffith battled for the championship throughout the World Series.

Smith also won the ARCA East opener on Tuesday night, but Smith says he’s already looking forward to coming back next year with something to prove.

"This year was okay," Smith said. "We wanted to come down here and win four or five races and that didn’t happen. I wouldn’t call it a competition and we’ll try it again next time."

2022 World Series of Asphalt
Super Late Model Race 7
Orange Blossom 100

1. William Byron
2. Ryan Preece
3. Sammy Smith
4. Daniel Dye
5. Jesse Love
6. Bubba Pollard
7. Stephen Nasse
8. Justin Mondeik
9. Anthony Sergi
10. Justin Drawdy
11. Derek Griffith
12. Brad May
13. Bobby Good
14. Austin Thom
15. Patrick Thomas
16. John Coffman
17. Rich Clouser
18. Devin O'Connell
19. Steve Weaver Jr