Warling, Kotten Take Florida Cup Wins



Last night the NEO Racing News Legends League division made the trip to Florida to take on the Florida Cup Double Header events at Daytona and New Smyrna.

Daytona has become a mainstay on the Legends schedule as the season opener and once again the race didn’t disappoint. The track got busy quickly as 22 Legends cars hit the Short configuration in practice and qualifying as the field prepared for the night. In open qualifying, a familiar face on road courses in Travis Warling, put up the fast time to take the pole spot for the night with a time of 46.097 seconds, with Bill Martin on the front row as well. The field took off from a standing start, and Warling would get a good start to lead the field into turn 1 as the rest of the pack looked to settle in behind him.

Warling slowly began to pull away out front on the first lap, while both Mike Rhyno and Huston Hamer were able to move up into the top 3 ahead of Martin, with Ronald Williams hanging tough in the top 5 in the early laps. But as the race went on, Warling continued to pull away while Hamer and Rhyno battled for 2nd and 3rd, but it was Josh Kotten and Clay Snider that took advantage to move up into the top 5 later in the race. With the field getting spread out some, most of the action was from about 6th to 11th as a number of drivers got bunched up nose-to-tail fighting for the top 10. Those spots would shuffle a number of times during the race, but that allowed the top 5 to get away out front.

At the front of the field it was Warling, who extended his lead to 13 seconds over the course of the race to go on and pick up the season opening win, his series leading 7th career victory. Rhyno made a late charge to get by Hamer for the 2nd spot with Hamer moving back to 3rd. Kotten and Snider would hold on to their spots to round out the top 5.

Top 10:
1. Travis Warling
2. Mike Rhyno
3. Huston Hamer
4. Josh Kotten
5. Clay Snider
6. TJ Graves
7. Patrick Hahe
8. Dale Owen
9. Mike Testa
10. Kyle Wood
For complete results, click HERE.

After the race got done at Daytona, the drivers all loaded up the haulers and made the trip 20 minutes south to New Smyrna for the first oval event of the season. Another large field of cars showed up as 24 cars hit the half-mile oval in practice. Josh Kotten would take the fast lap in time trials as he would start on the pole with a time of 20.468 seconds, just ahead of Bill Martin who once again would sit on the front row.

As the race got underway, the field would see two quick cautions as the track would slick up, and on the first restart, Martin was able to grab the lead from Kotten. The following restart saw a small run from the field as Martin was able to get back out front, with Kotten, Mike Rhyno, Travis Warling and Dale Owen battling within the top 5. One driver who was making a move was TJ Graves after having to start near the back of the field after the first restart, as he was able to make his way back up into the top 5 by the halfway mark.

Tires were starting to lose grip as falloff would come into play, and by lap 40 some drivers were having a hard time hanging onto their cars. Martin had pulled out to a half-second lead over Kotten but as he came off of turn four his car would get sideways. At the same time, Graves car would get loose and he too would get into trouble, as both wrecked happened nearly simultaneously collecting a few cars near the front of the pack including Owen, JayJay Day, and a piece of Rhyno’s car. As a result of the double incidents, Kotten was able to inherit the lead while Rhyno was able to continue on in the 2nd spot, with James Linkiewicz, Warling, and Clay Snider moving up into the top 5.

The field would have one more chance on the final restart, but a quick caution would force the race to end under the caution flag, leaving Kotten with the victory which was his 2nd career Legends win in SARA. Rhyno and Warling had strong runs once again and finished in 2nd and 3rd respectively, while Linkiewicz was able to take 4th, and Day was able to recover to 5th passing Snider on the final restart.

Top 10:
1. Josh Kotten
2. Mike Rhyno
3. Travis Warling
4. James Linkiewicz
5. JayJay Day
6. Clay Snider
7. Patrick Hahe
8. Todd Sipe
9. Bobby Timmons
10. Zach Wroblewski
For complete results, click HERE.

Next week the series makes the trip to Langley Speedway for a standalone event at the track.

With their strong performances in both races, Travis Warling and Mike Rhyno sit atop the points standings tied for the lead, with Josh Kotten close behind in 3rd. For full points standings, click HERE.