Chase Montgomery, 19, Edged Bob Strait In The Season Opener With Owner Alice Cooper’s Help.
DAYTONA BEACH — Back in 1971, Alice Cooper sang that he was only 18, and that he didn’t know what he wanted. He said he was a boy, but he was also a man.
After becoming a race-car owner, he has bonded with another precocious talent.
Chase Montgomery, 19, won the season-opening ARCA Advance Discount Auto Parts 200 Saturday by forcing every other driver to follow his black and orange-flame Pontiac.
After all, there’s a reason they call him Chase.
“I just got in there and held the wheel,” Montgomery said of his first career victory. “You really need to congratulate the crew, because they were the winners.”
Montgomery outdueled Bob Strait with three laps to go after a green flag signaled the seventh caution of the day.
Strait teamed with Billy Venturini to make a run at Montgomery with about 10 laps to go.
“Billy was just packing air behind me,” said Strait, who finished .176 second behind Montgomery. “And I was doing the same to him, so we were just pushing each other. We couldn’t get it done.”
Montgomery became the youngest pole winner in Daytona history a year ago, claiming the top spot in the ARCA opener.
This year, he took advantage of a mistake from pole winner Bobby Gerhart, who led almost the entire race before blowing a left rear tire with 19 laps to go. Gerhart never recovered.
“We were just sitting there, riding along and kind of waiting for him to make a mistake,” Montgomery said.
After announcing plans earlier in the day to run a partial schedule in NASCAR’s Busch Series for Cooper and Brewco Motorsports, Montgomery embraced his new partial owner in Victory Lane.
“I’m retiring,” Cooper said, laughing. “I want to be undefeated. It’s like getting your first No. 1 record; the feeling is unbelievable.”
Venturini finished third, Keith Segars was fourth, and Frank Kimmel, last season’s ARCA champion, came in fifth.
Rick Carelli was sixth.
Montgomery said Cooper might be just what he needed.
“I don’t know if he’s a good-luck charm or what, but I’m going to make him come to the next one,” Montgomery said.
Said Cooper: “Wow. An 800-horsepower Pontiac at full speed with a 19-year-old driving it . . . It doesn’t get any more heavy metal than that.”