Florida speed Park preview 2000-07-07

July 6th, St. Augustine, FL - Four years ago, a group of Super Late Models rolled into town and took a 125 lap tour around the fast half mile St. Augustine oval, thrilling fans and spectators alike en route to a spectacular night of racing. Then...

July 6th, St. Augustine, FL - Four years ago, a group of Super Late Models rolled into town and took a 125 lap tour around the fast half mile St. Augustine oval, thrilling fans and spectators alike en route to a spectacular night of racing. Then they disappeared.

Saturday night, fours years later, the Florida Pro Series, a collection of the most talented Super Late Model drivers in the state of Florida, returns to Florida Speed Park for another 125 lap show, kicking off the speedway's "Summer Showdowns" program in July.

"This is an awesome group of competitors," says speedway manager Louis Smith. "They are certainly not afraid to race each other hard, and that can make for one heckuva show."

Leading the points in the Florida Pro Series is Shane Russ. Russ is not a newcomer to the series, having won the Florida Pro Series championship in 1993, its inaugural year, though this year marks his return to racing after a five year layoff. And what a return he has made.

"I'm very happy right now," says Russ. "We planned on doing the best we could do this year, and next year go full tilt. Now, I'm expecting some good things."

Russ holds a narrow lead over Johnny Kay, 1998's SARA Sportsman Series champion and a serious contender every race in the FPS. Kay expects a lot of competition this weekend, on a speedway that few are familiar with.

"There are a number of guys that are going to be tough," says Kay. "Shane Russ, obviously, and James Powell will be strong. Shane Sawyer has raced real well in St. Augustine, and Jimmy Cope, if he comes, will be tough.

"From what I've heard, Florida Speed Park is more of a handling track than a horsepower track. We raced on a similar track in Cordele, GA, where I set the fast qualifying time and led every lap from there, so I'm pretty excited about this weekend."

James Powell is fresh off a series win at Columbia County Motorsports Park, and has been very impressive in all of his starts this year.

Following the Florida Pro Series event, in local action, are the Alpha Communications Hobby Stocks, Thunder Trucks and Tattoo Dee's Old Rooster Mini Stocks. The Hobby Stocks are tuning up for their 50 lap Alpha Communications Hobby Bowl event next weekend, while the Mini Stocks are racing for the first time following their 50 lap Mini-Rama, a race dominated by Troy Kruse, Mickey Leth and Jake Hartley. Mike Sible is expected to make his first start of the season in the division, while 12-year-old Mike Stover, Jr. will also be in action.

Ron Thomas has been steadily building his lead over Wade Lynn in the Thunder Truck division. Lynn, who got off to a strong start at the season's onset, has been less impressive lately following a crash almost two months ago. Les Burl continues to make progress, holding steady in third.

Grandstand gates will open at 5:00pm, with hot lap sessions at 6:45 pm, qualifying at 7:45 pm, and features at approximately 8:30 pm. Tickets for this special event are $15 for adults, $8 for Students and Seniors, and $2 for ages 7-12. Under 7 is free. A Family Pack is available for $35, which allows two adults and all household children 18 and under.

<pre> FLORIDA SPEED PARK SATURDAY - JULY 8, 2000 RACE DAY SCHEDULE

PIT GATES OPEN                                  12:00
OPEN PRACTICE                                   2:00 - 4:00
GRANDSTAND GATES OPEN                           5:00
DRIVER'S MEETING                                6:15

HOT LAPS (TWO 6-LAP SESSIONS PER DIVISION) 6:45 QUALIFYING (IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING) FLORIDA PRO HEATS HOBBY STOCKS 6 LAPS TRUCKS 6 LAPS MINI STOCKS 6 LAPS

FLORIDA PRO SERIES TO FRONTSTRETCH , FOLLOWED BY INVOCATION AND NATIONAL ANTHEM GENTLEMAN START YOUR ENGINES 8:30

FLORIDA PRO SERIES                      125 LAPS
HOBBY STOCKS                            20 LAPS
THUNDER TRUCKS                          25 LAPS
MINI STOCKS                             20 LAPS

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