DLMS: 2006 Awards ceremony summary

STORMPAY.COM DLMS NATIONAL CHAMPION GENTRY USES $5K ENGINE TO BANK OVER $60K TAMPA, FL - David Gentry of Lewisburg, TN will be honored Wednesday night as the 2006 StormPay.com Dirt Late Model Series National Champion at the ...

STORMPAY.COM DLMS NATIONAL CHAMPION GENTRY USES $5K ENGINE TO BANK OVER $60K

TAMPA, FL - David Gentry of Lewisburg, TN will be honored Wednesday night as the 2006 StormPay.com Dirt Late Model Series National Champion at the series Annual Awards Banquet beginning at 7 p.m. at Westin Hotel on Harbor Island in Tampa, FL. With his $20,000 Championship cash award from the point fund, Gentry's earnings will top $60,000 for the season.

In addition to his cash earnings, Gentry will also receive a new Mastersbilt chassis from Mastersbilt Race Cars and a new GM Performance 604 Crate Engine.

During the 2006 StormPay.com Dirt Late Model National Tour, Gentry competed in 18 events with seven wins, 14 top five finishes, and five fast time awards. Driving the #56 Dixon Plumbing Mastersbilt powered by a $5,000 GM Performance 604 Crate Engine, Gentry earned a total of $61,280 in race prize money and point fund money. Not a bad return.

Gentry may have not made the trip this week to Tampa to be honored, if it wasn't for a tough decision his race team made in July to go after the StormPay.com DLMS Series title.

The 2006 StormPay.com Dirt Late Model Series season started on January 8 at Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, AL with Gentry winning the Ice Bowl race. In the second race of the season at Columbus Speedway in Columbus, MS Gentry swapped the lead with Hall of Famer Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, TN three times on the last lap, but had to settle for second.

The next two events saw Gentry post a 24th and a seventh-place finish, before coming back with three straight second-place finishes. After the first seven races of the season, Gentry couldn't seem to get back in the winner's circle, even though he was second in the point standings, only 28 points behind Shannon Buckingham of Morristown, TN.

Gentry was already well-known as a super late model racer, driving cars powered by high-dollar engines. There was talk that Gentry wasn't going to run for the championship, opting to compete in some higher paying super late model races.

Wins are wins, and they feel good no matter what kind of race car one drives. Gentry returned to the StormPay.com DLMS winner's circle at his home track, Duck River Speedway in Wheel, TN on July 1. However, in less than 24 hours, Gentry went from the penthouse to the outhouse.

The series moved to the fast high banks of Thunderhill Raceway in Lawrenceburg, TN on July 2. On lap 27 of the main event, Gentry's car flew off the banking and disappeared into the woods. Gentry walked away from the crash uninjured, but his StormPay.com DLMS car was destroyed, and Buckingham now had a 54-point advantage over Gentry.

Back at his shop, Gentry had another car, but one with a high-dollar super late model engine under the hood. Gentry gathered his crew together to make a decision.

"We were making good money with the StormPay.com Dirt Late Model Series when you consider we were using a $5,000 engine," Gentry said. "We knew we could do well with the $40,000 engine, but the return was no where near what we were doing with the crate engine. My crew had worked hard all season long on the crate car, and they wanted to go for the StormPay championship."

So, out came the super late model engine, and in went the crate engine. That swap had to be made overnight, as the next StormPay.com DLMS race was over the next two nights at StormPay.com Speedway in Clarksville, TN. Gentry rewarded the hard work by his crew with a win on July 4 at the Clarksville race.

The hard work and the rewards didn't quit there. Gentry also won the next three races at Pike County Speedway in McComb, MS on July 30, Talladega Short Track on August 5, and Penton Raceway in Penton, AL on August 18. The Talladega win put Gentry back on top of the StormPay.com DLMS National point standings.

Once he was back on top of the points chase, Gentry never looked back. He finished third on August 19 at Thunder Mountain Speedway in Fyffe, AL, and was right back in the winner's circle on September 2 at Whynot Motorsports Park in Meridian, MS. At the next race on September 29 at Crossville Raceway in Crossville, TN, Gentry finished second.

By the time the series reached the next-to-the-last race of the 2006 season, all Gentry had to do was take the green flag for the main event to clinch the title. Not only did "Lewisburg Lightning" do that, he also finished second in the race.

"I owe this championship to my crew because they were the ones that wanted it, and they worked their tails off to get it," Gentry said. "I tried to drive the race car as hard as they worked. It was definitely a team effort."

After the banquet, Gentry will travel to East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, FL on Friday and Saturday night to try and pad his bank account with another $10,000. That's how much the winner will receive for getting the victory in the 2nd Annual 100-lap StormPay.com World Championship Race.

As he did all season long, Gentry will face some tough competition from the top drivers nationwide including Buckingham, defending race winner Jimmy Owens of Newport, TN, Nextel Cup star Ken Schrader of Fenton, MO, and local favorite, two-time StormPay.com DLMS East Bay winner and multi-time track champion Keith Nosbisch of Valrico, FL.

-credit: www.stormpayracing.com.

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Series Stock car
Drivers Ken Schrader , Jimmy Owens