The stat sheet will never explain what the Pete Orr Memorial Orange Blossom 100 victory meant to Kyle Benjamin and his crew chief Freddie Query. Winning at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway is always special, but Benjamin had been out of a car for a month while Query was getting a chance to honor a former fellow racer by having the 71 car in the event.
Benjamin took the luck of the draw and the number-one pill to his full advantage as he fended off all challengers and led wire-to-wire to score the win.
"It's a sad thing that we have any of these memorial races," said Benjamin. "I am glad we got it for Freddie. I can see why they would be friends with their racing relationship."
Query was good friends with Pete Orr. In fact, Orr served as a crew chief on a skeleton crew for Query in 1999 at the All American 400. Query had won the last two editions of the event prior to teaming with Orr. The combination almost worked out in a third victory, but even after that race the friendship continued. Query later taught seminars with Orr, who passed away in 2002.
"Peter Orr was one of those guys who could beat you and he'd still be your best friend," said Query. "We raced a lot before that All American 400 and we were good friends. This is special to win this race."
Query was shocked when he was awarded the Pete Orr Sportsmanship award before the race. Query, known for his intensity on the track, received an honor he never expected.
"To get the Sportsmanship award is special," said Query. "I have never gotten a Sportsmanship for anything. To win the race like we did is a great start to the year for us and Kyle.”
A red flag 28 laps from the finish for an Anthony Sergi wreck set up a thrilling finish for second and it gave Benjamin’s No. 71 the boost it needed at the end.
"That last caution with the red flag really helped us," said Benjamin. "It allowed us to cool the tires and the car was not nearly as tight as it was before."
Benjamin disappeared on the restart, while Travis Cope used the high lane to get into second. Through the final laps of the race, Cope put on a show with fellow racer Rich Clouser. They went door-to-door and swapped lanes, each looking for an advantage. Cope got the spot with Clouser coming across in third.
"It was like a win to get second after we made a few pit stops," said Cope. "Rich was faster than us at the end, but we were able to hold him off. It's nice to hear that we were the highest finishing Florida driver in the last FASCAR race."
The race was the last for that of the FASCAR banner. New Smyrna and Orlando both will fly under the NASCAR banner in 2013.
"It was some good hard racing for second," said Clouser. "We got together last time and he spun, so it was nice to come back and be able to race the same guy so cleanly. We rubbed a little bit and gave each other room and that's racing. I am excited about NASCAR. That's awesome and that can't be nothing but good.“