LAKE CITY, FL (2-1-08) The O'Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions kicked off the 2008 season with an appearance at North Florida Speedway in Lake City, FL. The first night of the two night show saw 27 cars and stars signed in to do battle in the...
LAKE CITY, FL (2-1-08) The O'Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions kicked off the 2008 season with an appearance at North Florida Speedway in Lake City, FL. The first night of the two night show saw 27 cars and stars signed in to do battle in the Icebreaker 2008: The Sunshine Showdown.
Defending All Star champion Greg Wilson struggled early missing the transfer spot and would start on the pole of the B-main.Wilson took the green flag, then ran off an hid from the remainder of the field. TJ Stutts finished second with 2008 rookie contender Ryan Meyers third. Paul McMahan, who struggled early with motor issues, took the final transfer spot.
The All Stars implemented a new twist on an old idea in having six young fans join the Top Six A-main starters on the front stretch to redraw for their starting positions. After the re-draw, Brian Paulus was sitting on the pole for the main event next to Randy Hannagan. Dale Blaney was shuffled to the third starting position and Brock Mayes to the fourth. Lucas Wolfe was lined up on the inside of the third row, and Sam Haefertepe Jr. would take the outside of row three.
When the green flag flew on the first ever 410 sprint car A-main at this speedway, Dale Blaney jumped out to the early lead as Randy Hannagan and Brock Mayes battled hard side by side. Sam Haefertepe Jr took the opportunity to cruise around the two of them to challenge Brian Paulus for second. Haefertepe got by Paulus and set his sights on Blaney who was coming into lapped traffic. Haefertepe shot past Blaney only to have the caution fly for Kaley Gharst who was slowing on the front stretch. "I was really hoping we got that lap compete, but I knew once we got back to lapped traffic that we may be able to do something with him," said Hafertepe. "I hate to show somebody my nose and have the caution come out like that. We got the lapped traffic and it worked in our favor."
On the restart, it was Blaney, Haeftertepe, Paulus, Hannagan, and Mayes as the green flag flew once again. Lance Dewease made a charge to the front and challenged Mayes for fifth, eventually taking the spot. Blaney was pulling away from the field, but slipped up a bit in traffic in turn four, allowing Haefertepe to take advantage and charge into the lead on lap 12 of the 25 lap event.
At the half way point, Haefertepe was holding off Blaney as Paulus and Hannagan were nose to tail. Hannagan finally got around Paulus and moved into the third spot as Dewease jumped into fourth. Dewease started to give Hannagan fits as the laps were winding down. Blaney chased Haefertepe down in traffic, but ran out of laps to make a final challenge on the kid from Texas.
At the line it was Haefertepe over Blaney, Hannagan, Dewease, and Paulus on the fast 4/10 mile speedway. "The track was really racy for the feature," said Haefertepe. "Our car was really hooked up good in the feature. He (Blaney) made a little mistake and we didn't."
The entire event was run with very few incidents, which considering it was the first night of All Star action in 2008, was quite an accomplishment. The North Florida crowd saw some great racing with the ultra-fast 410 sprints putting on an exiting show as the All Stars will begin to tally season points with a long season ahead. Will Greg Wilson defend his championship? Or will one of the other stars step up and give him a run for the money by the time September rolls around?