American-Canadian Tour Champion Patrick Laperle earned his first victory in the 43rd annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing on Monday night at Florida's New Smyrna Speedway. Laperle's victory in the ASA/Crate-type Late Model division, however, came in a rather unconventional way.
The feature race was scheduled to run 25 laps, but was cut short after just 11 circuits due to a seemingly out-of-control field of race cars. Laperle, of St-Denis, Que., started in third place and took the lead from Landon Cassill on lap 11 before the seventh, eighth, and ninth caution flags came out. During the eighth caution period, more than an hour into the race, officials informed the drivers that due to the time - and machinery - wasted during the opening laps, that the next yellow flag would end the race, regardless of the number of laps completed. As the field came to the green flag for the restart, a backmarker spun, bringing out the yellow and checkered flags.
"It was awful, everybody was wrecking," said Laperle. "It was crazy, even though we were restarting single-file, they were wrecking. It's too bad, because our car was really good, but we still won and it feels good."
Milton's Eric Chase rebounded nicely from a rough first two outings in the World Series on Friday and Saturday nights, finishing in eighth place.
Laperle apologized to the fans at New Smyrna Speedway during his victory lane interview for the wreck-filled race.
"You don't want to win like that," echoed Daniel Laperle, Patrick's brother and long-time crew member, "but the car was a rocket. We earned it." Cassill, who won on Saturday night, finished second. Dave Wagner, David Rigan, and Joseph Gase completed the unofficial top five.
"I'm glad that race is over," said Patrick Laperle. "We finally got (a win), and I think after a few beers, we're all going to bed." Laperle, favored as one of the championship favorites prior to the start of the 2009 World Series, has established himself as one of the proven forces to reckon with, along with Cassill, whose worst finish is second in three nights.
The ASA/Crate Late Model division will be back in action on Tuesday night.