Sunday, February 9, 2003

ARCA: Montgomery scores first career win

By Jenna Fryer
The Associated Press

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Chase Montgomery scored the first victory of his career by holding off the competition in a four-lap shootout to win the ARCA season-opener Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.

The 19-year-old Montgomery held off Bob Strait when the green flag fell after the seventh and final caution. He beat Strait to the finish line by .176 seconds to claim the win.

"This crew is great, they do everything and I just get in there and hold the wheel," Montgomery said. "They're going to hold this trophy up back at the shop."

A year ago, Montgomery became the youngest pole winner in Daytona history when he started from the top spot in the ARCA opener.

Billy Venturini finished third, Keith Segars was fourth and Rick Carelli rounded out the top five. Frank Kimmel, last season's ARCA champion, was sixth.

Montgomery won on the same day he announced plans to run a partial schedule this season in NASCAR's Busch series for Brewco Motorsports and rock star Alice Cooper.

Cooper joined Montgomery in Victory Lane.

"I'm retiring," Cooper joked in the postrace press conference. "I want to be undefeated. I was telling him it's like getting your first No. 1 record, the feeling is unbelievable."

Bobby Gerhart started from the pole and appeared to have the car to beat, leading almost the entire race before he blew a left-rear tire 19 laps from the finish and fell off the pace.

"We were just sitting there, riding along and kind of waiting for him to make a mistake," Montgomery said. "Bob Strait got behind me and kind of pushed me across the line. We just had an awesome car."

CART star Christian Fittipaldi, who is running a combined ARCA, Busch and Winston Cup schedule for Petty Enterprises this season, finished 10th in his series debut.

Deborah Renshaw, making her first start since she was injured in a practice crash in North Carolina last October that killed driver Eric Martin, finished 24th.

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