Over the course of the offseason, we will go back and recap each race of the 2023 ASA STARS National Tour season. The inaugural season featured seven different winners in ten races at ten different tracks, with a points battle that went down to the wire.
Race No.1 – Sunshine State 200 at Five Flags Speedway
The long awaited and much anticipated debut of the ASA STARS National Tour season opener finally came in early March 2023. The inaugural race for the ASA STARS National Tour was held at Pensacola, FL’s Five Flags Speedway on Saturday, March 11, and a total of 36 cars made the trip to the Florida Panhandle to kick off a new era of Super Late Model racing.
Two days of practice led to Go Fas Racing Pole Qualifying on Saturday afternoon. In his first start with Shafer Motorsports, reigning Snowball Derby champion Derek Thorn won the Go Fas Pole Award, while Bubba Pollard and Matt Craig started on the front row after the invert.
Stage racing would be introduced during the Sunshine State 200, as Craig shot out to an early lead, pacing the first 79 laps and winning stage one in the process. Stage two saw its share of attrition and leaders, with five different drivers leading laps during the second stage. Ultimately, it was Pollard beating Preston Peltier in a photo finish for the stage two win after starting the stage two laps down.
After a pit strategy call, Gio Ruggiero restarted the final stage as the leader, leading 15 laps before Pollard and Casey Roderick. The biggest moment of the race happened just five laps later. As the yellow was being waved for an incident involving Preston Peltier, Roderick got into Pollard and sent the No.26 around on the frontstretch, collecting several cars and ending Pollard’s night.
The final 30 laps went caution-free, with Casey Roderick becoming the first driver to win an ASA STARS National Tour race. Eventual Blizzard Series champion Jeremy Doss drove from 20th to finish second, while Ty Majeski finished third after starting 16th.
The stout field of cars led to many comers and goers, with stage racing strategy and numerous cautions shuffling the running order. There were 10 lead changes among seven drivers, and 20 different drivers earned bonus points via the stage racing format.
Sunshine State 200 – Five Flags Speedway
Go Fas Racing Pole Award Winner: Derek Thorn
Stage Winners: Matt Craig/Bubba Pollard
Lead Changes: 10
Most Laps Led: Matt Craig (79)
Winner: Casey Roderick
For more information on the ASA STARS National Tour, please visit the series website at starsnationaltour.com, or be sure to follow the series on social media (Facebook: ASA STARS National Tour | Twitter: @racewithstars | IG: @starsnational).
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