Twenty four of Florida’s finest Open Wheel Modifieds were in the field but Doc McKinney blew his motor during hot laps and was unable to race. Excitement filled the air as the drivers were introduced and surrounded by a number of Halloween horrors. Ghosts, goblins, football players, cheerleaders, witches, pumpkins surrounded the field as they trick-or-treated the drivers.
Lee Collins set fast time in qualifying for the 23 car field with a 18.345. Collins pulled the 0 pill which started it straight up with Mike Fritts on the outside pole. On the green Collins quickly took the point and lead all 100 laps. Top five on the start were Collins, Mike Fritts, Kevin Durden, Jim Flynn, and Jerry Artuso.
The yellow came out on lap two for Skip Honaker who spun on the backstretch. The field was realigned as Collins once again took the lead on the green.
Only three laps later, George Murphy and Justin Reynolds got together on the backstretch on the restart. Reynolds went up on Murphy’s tire setting Reynolds airborn and up on the backstretch wall. The race was red flagged to get Reynolds off the backstretch wall and to pull the chain link fence back up. Both cars were still running as they went into the pits for crew attention.
On the restart it was Collins, Fritts, Durden, Flynn, Artuso, Brad May, J.F. McClellan, Jimmy Britts, Jerry Symons and Red Van in the chase. George Murphy tried but was unable to continue racing after the backstretch incident and pulled out of the race on lap 8. Jerry Artuso put the pedal down and passed Flynn taking over the fourth place spot.
Lap 18 the yellow comes out again as Steve Thornbrugh spins in turns 3 and 4. Collins holds the point on the restart followed by Fritts, Durden, Artuso, and Flynn. Artuso has a very strong car and is right on the tail of Durden as May challenges Flynn for the fifth place spot.
Just as it is getting very heavy on lap 32, Mike Fritts suffers a blown engine and hits the turns 3 and 4 wall. Artuso, having no place to go, pills into the oil along with Brad May. The race is red flagged for a second time as the safety crew clean the track and Fritts’s car is double hooked off the track. Fritts was fine but done, Artuso was fine but done, and May goes in for crew attention and is able to go back racing after some quick repairs.
The race goes back green on lap 33 with Collins, Durden, Flynn, J.F. McClellan and Jimmy Britts in the top five followed by Jimmy Britts, Jerry Symons, Jeremy Gerstner, Alan McCafferty, and Wayne Jefferson. Jefferson wants eighth and takes it from McCafferty as he goes back to ninth. Symons passes Britts and takes over fifth with Britts sixth. Skip Honaker retires from the race after having a nice run.
The caution comes out for Jimmy Britts and Wayne Jefferson as Jefferson taps Britts in the rear going for fifth. Britts restarts the race in the rear of the lead lap cars as Jefferson takes his ride into the pits. Jefferson did not have his usual car and was using Kevyn Terry’s back-up car for the last race. Jefferson had a great run as he started in the rear of the field and made it all the way to sixth before retiring.
On the restart it is Collins, Durden, Symons, Flynn, and McClellan. The yellow comes out on lap 76 for J.F. McClellan who was running fifth. McClellan’s transmission failed after having a very good run at New Smyrna. McClellan was pushed into the pits with Collins leading the way on the restart.
Symons, who has not had the year he wanted, looks and is very strong as he passes Durden and takes over second. Just as Symons looks to challenge Collins, the yellow comes out for Alan Bruns who has spun on his own in turns 1 and 2. Having no place to go, Justin Reynolds hits Bruns stalled car. Both drivers were okay but were down for the night.
Lap 87 sees the restart as Collins has Symons all over his bumper but Collins holds keeping the point. Britts tries to pass McCafferty for fifth but McCafferty holds strong The top ten are Collins, Symons, Durden, Flynn, McCafferty, Britts, Jeremy Gerstner, Brad May, John Gerstner and Red Vann. Lap 94 sees the yellow for debris on the track.
Five laps to go Collins leads the way with Symons all over him. Symons goes high, low but Collins is not to be denied the win. On the last lap coming to the checkered, fifth place Alan McCafferty runs out of gas after having a great race. Collins takes the checkered followed by Jerry Symons, Kevin Durden, Jim “Hoot” Flynn, and Jimmy Britts.
In Victory Lane, Lee Collins was declared the 2004 Penske Racing Shocks United Pro Modified Champion. Collins, who started the 2004 season of the SpeedWeeks Open Wheel Modified Champion, said “this has been a great year for us. Everything just fell into place and I am very happy and pleased to be the 2004 Pro Mod Champion.”
PENSKE RACING SHOCKS UNITED PRO MODIFIED ED MERIDITH MEMORIAL
OCTOBER 30, 2004
1. #89 Lee Collins
2. #66 Jerry Symons
3. #0 Kevin Durden
4. #57 Jim Flynn
5. #9 Jimmy Britts
6. #00 Brad May
7. #70 Jeremy Gerstner
8. #13 Kevyn Terry
9. #32 Red Vann
10. #77 John Gerstner
11. #32M Alan McCafferty
12. #00x Bobby Blake
13. #56 Ken McCracken
14. #4 Ronald Blackard
15. #4b Alan Bruns
16. #7 Justin Reynolds
17. #01 J.F. McClellan
18. #1 Wayne Jefferson
19. #2 Skip Honaker
20. #41 Mike Fritts
21. #5 Jerry Artuso
22. #10 Steve Thornbrugh
23. #40 George Murphy
Fast Qualifier: Lee Collins 18.345