The 2014 UNOH Battle at the Beach is most likely the final incarnation of the event since the Superstretch grandstands are going to be removed before next February. This year’s event only saw K&N East cars and Tour Type Modifieds take to the temporary circuit on the backstretch of Daytona International Speedway. After 300 laps of intense racing and markedly less controversy than 2013, Doug Coby was on the victory podium with the Modified crown while Daniel Suarez was putting a firm stamp on his dance card as a favorite for the 2014 K&N title with his second consecutive K&N race win, and third straight Regional Touring Series victory.
The modified race started the night’s festivities and Ryan Preece wasted no time in establishing his car as the one to beat in the race. Preece led the first 147 laps of the 150 lap race through eight caution periods, including the final one which involved Preece. While Preece maintained the top spot, his left rear tire was damaged in the incident that brought out the caution. On the restart he was unable to get a satisfactory drive off of the corner which allowed Coby to drive past him on the backstretch and assume the point. From then it was a matter of holding off Jason Myers for the win. While Myers gave him a classic shot to the back nerf bar in the final corner he missed the opening he created and Coby held onto the top spot and grabbed the win. Myers was second acrossed the finish line while Luke Fleming came home third. Coby held on with his wounded ride for fourth and Myers’ brother Burt finished off the top 5.
While the players in the Modified play were meeting with the media, the K&N cars fired up and rolled off for their feature. Gray Gaulding grabbed the point on the first lap of the event over pole sitter Ben Rhodes. Gaulding showed the way for the first 20 laps of the 150 lap event but Daniel Suarez started sixth in the No. 6 ride and used that lucky scenario to overpower Gaulding and take over the top spot. From then on the battle was ultimately for the second place finish because Suarez was too strong to be headed. As the competitors in the runner-up spot changed repeatedly and cars swapped positions throughout the field through eight caution periods, the top driver never switched. With his second consecutive win in the series in a week, after scoring the win at New Smyrna on Sunday night. The battle for runner-up eventually ended in the favor of Austin Hill. Brandon McReynolds, and his teammate Nick Drake finished third and fourth respectively while Lee Pulliam capped off the top 5.
Coby was thankful that Myers’ attempt at a bump and run came up a little short. “I knew he was going to take a shot,” said the former Modified Tour Champion. “I tried to hold it as straight as possible and absorb his shot. He hit me pretty good but then he drove over my nerf bar, which planted the rear tire. At that point I knew he’d never beat me to the line.”
Myers was less than thankful for the way the maneuver worked out. “I was right where I wanted to be on the last lap,” the Bowman-Gray Stadium regular lamented. “I gave him the shot and moved him up just like I wanted to. The hole was there but when I turned to fill it the left front caught his car and killed my momentum. I knew I was done at that point in time.”
As for the K&N combatants, Suarez knows he’s in a great situation right now. “My Rev Racing team, and not just on the No. 6, but on all of the cars, is really building great cars right now.” The NASCAR Mexico Champion went on to add, “I just thank God for this opportunity. All of the hard work that everyone is putting in is paying off and I couldn’t be more blessed.”
The next race for the K&N East series is on March 15th at Bristol Motor Speedway.