Cope Tops Harvey Memorial
by Godwin Kelly – Motorsports Editor – Daytona Beach News-Journal with additional writing by Mark Keeler – Announcer – New Smyrna Speedway
(New Smyrna Speedway – 04/14/12) Travis Cope fought off a serious challenge from veteran David Rogers to win the fifth annual Billie Harvey 100 Memorial – Bright House Challenge Series race at New Smyrna Speedway on Saturday night.
Cope, driving the No. 26, and Rogers, the 3-time defending Bright House Challenge Series champion, battled the last 15 laps following the last caution period.
Rogers, wheeling the No. 11 and no stranger to NSS Victory Lane, pressed Cope in the last five laps but was unable to make the pass. The two cars touched several times as they fought for the trophy.
Rich Clouser was third, followed by Tim Russell.
Cope took the lead on Lap 46 of the 100-lap race over New Smyrna’s half-mile, high-banked oval. Rogers started seventh and picked his way to the front.
“I wasn’t surprised at all,” Cope said of the dramatic battle for the win. “We didn’t have the fastest car, but I was able to hold him off.
“It was good, clean racing. I can’t thank my guys enough for the car they gave me. It feels great.”
Rogers said Cope’s machine was the class of the field. Rogers was able to catch Cope in the closing laps because he was mirror-driving.
“Rubbing, whamming and banging is what short-track racing is all about,” Rogers said. “If he would have drove out his windshield he would have been able to drive away and leave me but he didn’t and he gave me an opportunity.”
Rogers said he could have done the bump-and-run on Cope, but decided to race clean.
“I’m not the type of racer who takes advantage of situations, and there were a lot of situations,” Rogers said. “We just got beat.”
The race is run in honor of Harvey, who was a South Florida racer, but a regular at this track before his death in 2007.
“This track truly meant a lot to my father,” Harvey’s son Billie Jr. said before the start. “I really appreciate the drivers coming out.”
The race was red-flagged for 7 minutes, 22 seconds on Lap 65 when Amanda Ferguson’s Late Model suffered an oil fire in the engine compartment.
She was not injured, but fluid from the car required extra cleanup.
Alan Bruns brought out the yellow flag twice for spins in Turn 2, then on the backstretch. There were a total of 5 cautions and 1 red flag during the 100 lap race.
Jeff Scofield, who started fourth, was the fastest qualifier. Clouser started from the pole position after the top four qualifiers were inverted.
“We’re known for the long runs,” Clouser said. “We were a little tight at the beginning of the race. We were able to work our way up there. We got to third and made a good night of it.”
Tim Russell made Pit Stops during consecutive yellow flags on laps 63 and 64. He restarted 10th on lap 65 before working his way back up to finish fourth.
Brad May led the first 45 laps of competition but faded to fifth at the finish.
Cope now has two Bright House Challenge Series wins in 2012 claiming the 2012 Series Opener back on February 25th to cap off the 46th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
Next Race for the Bright House Challenge Series will be back at the New Smyrna Speedway on Saturday May 5, 2012.