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Neumann pulls away for victory


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 1, 2001

INVERNESS -- With a handful of laps remaining in Saturday's Late Model feature, front-running veteran Herb Neumann, Jr. knew that Billy Bechtelheimer was slowly reeling him in with every lap.

A crew member came on the radio and reminded Neumann to take it easy and save his two-week-old tires should he have to battle his rival to the checkered flag. But when he looked up in his rearview mirror, Neumann could scarcely believe it -- Bechtelheimer was nowhere in sight.

"This one really felt good," Neumann. "Even though the car's been running good, we just needed a little bit more luck than we've had lately."

Neumann, who sat out the first two weeks of the season while his car was being readied by builder and crew chief Larry Nevells, won his first event handily.

But while Neumann's orange Bobby Clark R.V.-sponsored No. 38 consistently has been among the quickest cars on the quarter-mile oval, Neumann knows that the ability to be patient is just as important as being fast.

He was reminded of that two weeks ago with a mistake that proved costly. After threading his way to the front, Neumann attempted to pass front-runner Tom Haselmayer for the lead. In a hasty move, Neumann bumped him and sent Haselmayer spinning. Officials penalized Neumann by sending him to the rear. It ended up costing him the race.

On Saturday night, a more conservative strategy proved to be the best assurance that Neumman would be around for the end.

VELTMAN REPEATS: Starting from the scratch position, defending Sportsman champion Mike Veltman outran Terry Cater to the finish line to capture the M. Dominique Mobile Home Restoration 30-lap feature.

SMITH 6-FOR-7: Hobby stock driver Richie Smith added another victory to his remarkable season.

In a fashion similar to his performance in last week's feature, Smith, who started from the rear, had the entire 17-car field passed by the 15th lap of the 21-lap event.

JUNKER DRIVER OKAY: Street Legal Junker driver Millie Miller suffered minor bruises when her car flipped on the opening lap of the feature.

A bump from behind upset Miller's car just as she was heading into the course's right-hand turn, rolling it over onto its roof. After rescue workers freed her, Miller was sent to the hospital for treatment.

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