June 10th, St. Augustine, FL - Victory Lane took on a whole new look Saturday night at Florida Speed Park, as rookies mingled in with seasoned veterans to occupy the most prized real estate in motorsports. "I can't get over the excitement...
June 10th, St. Augustine, FL - Victory Lane took on a whole new look Saturday night at Florida Speed Park, as rookies mingled in with seasoned veterans to occupy the most prized real estate in motorsports.
"I can't get over the excitement down there tonight," said speedway manager Louis Smith, on the festive atmosphere on the frontsretch throughout all the divisions following the races. "There's so much talent rising up right now, that's coming out here to race, it's really making for an outstanding season."
Chuch Cumby returned to the winner's spot for the second time in the Rick's Muffler Modified division, outrunning a game George Thrift, whose car suffered troubles with three laps to go, dropping him from contention. Rookies Mark Bergman and Josh Byrd held off valiant efforts by Robert Deal, Jason Lowe and Marc Kinley to claim trophies in what has become the most hotly contested division at the speedway this year.
"We worked on this car until 4 o'clock this afternoon," said Bergman. "We got a few laps in before qualifying. It needs a little bit of work but it's a real good car. I'm happy to be here."
Cumby, who started on the pole, looked very impressive throughout all 30 laps, taking sizable leads on the competition and maintaining the advantage until the end.
"We've been working on it trying to get it right," said Cumby. "It was pretty close to being right tonight."
The rest of the division could have used a little more 'right' from Cumby. Instead, the driver of the #88 car managed to turn left properly at every available opportunity, cruising to victory in easily the team's best outing of the year.
"We wouldn't be where we are tonight without George Thrift and his dad," said the driver's father Charlie Cumby, referring to last year' Modified champion. "They've helped set this car up, helped with the motor, they've done everything possible to help us win, at the expense of his own racing."
Robert Deal, along with Jason Lowe, turned in another solid hard charger effort, both choosing to start at the rear of a full field and passing their way into the top five. Deal would finish just ahead of Lowe at the end.
Troy Kruse capitalized on an accident involving race leaders Jake Hartley and Mickey Leth on lap 11, earning his first Tattoo Dee's Old Rooster Mini Stock win Saturday. Kruse, who started on the pole, easily outpaced Mark Smith and Jason Miller over the final laps for the victory. Miller had to battle back from a second lap spin that put him at the rear of the field. Jared Cooper, starting on the outside pole, held on for fourth while Leth could only manage to get back to the fifth position.
Perhaps the biggest story in the Mini Stock division was the inaugural race of Mike Stover, Jr., who at twelve years old became the youngest driver ever to race in an American Racing Association sanctioned event. Stover, a veteran go kart driver, finished the race in eighth place, on the lead lap.
"This kid is amazing," said Smith. "He has put in a phenomenal number of hours out here getting used to the track and his vehicle, even though the actual car he drove tonight he had little time in. He is very head strong, and physically he's a little tank. There's no telling what he's capable of."
Stover had to complete a series of steps with a race vehicle in order to gain clearance from the ARA to drive in competition. "He had no problems getting there," added Smith. "Tonight was the first time on the speedway for him under race conditions, with officials, flagmen, and a lot of other traffic. He looked a little timid at times, but overall he did as much as you could expect for someone's first effort."
The Mini Stocks are gearing up for next weekend's Action Heating & Air Mini-Rama, a 50 lap $1,000 to win special feature, part of WSOS Night at the Races.
In Late Model action, Chuck Hiers grabbed the top spot from Dustin Chambers on the first lap and powered to a convincing victory over the rest of the field in what turned out to be a survival contest in the 35 lap feature event of the night. Several wrecks involving top contenders Larry Osteen, Jeremy Fitch and Scott Lagasse, Jr., among others, slowed the race and mixed up the field all night long. Osteen would recover from his early race fracas to finish second, while Jody Turner, whose best weapon turned out to be avoiding trouble, finished third. Points leader Donnie Oden finished fourth and Dustin Chambers held on for fifth.
Mike Ponce became the fifth different driver of the season to win in the Thunder Truck division, cruising to victory over Les Burl and division leader Ron Thomas. Wade Lynn and Robert Gorman, Jr. rounded out the top five.
Brad Pilinko was impressive again in the Alpha Communications Hobby Stock division, outgunning division rival Chris Manucy for the win. L.H. Davis finished third, yet chose to decline a port-race engine teardown, giving the third place finish to Randy Moody. All three passed inspection, which lasted well into the early morning hours. Randy Wilkes and Bucky York rounded out the top five.
Jake Jacobs added additional excitement to the caution-filled Hobby event, driving his 1957 J-2 Chevy in the feature. Jacobs, who was not eligible for the win, picked his way through the field from a last place start, eventually taking the checkers ahead of Pilinko. Jacobs was the only driver remaining from the Daytona Antique Auto Racing's stock division, and was allowed by track management to run for fun with the Hobby Stocks.
The speedway is back in action again this coming Saturday with the Mini-Rama feature, plus Late Models, Sportsman, Thunder Trucks and Hobby Stocks.
Late Models 1 - Chuck Hiers 2 - Larry Osteen 3 - Jody Turner 4 - Donnie Oden 5 - Dustin Chambers 6 - Joey Haslauer 7 - Jeremy Fitch 8 - Scott Lagasse, Jr. 9 - Dave Hussey 10 - Paul Peterson
Modifieds 1 - Chuck Cumby 2 - Mark Bergman 3 - Joshua Byrd 4 - Robert Deal 5 - Jason Lowe 6 - Marc Kinley 7 - David Browning 8 - Larry Osteen 9 - Craig Watson 10 - Mike Batten 11 - John Galbraith 12 - George Thrift 13 - Chester Mayes 14 - Mark Wortman 15 - Ben Booth
Thunder Trucks 1 - Mike Ponce 2 - Les Burl 3 - Ron Thomas 4 - Wade Lynn 5 - Robert Gorman, Jr.
Mini Stocks 1 - Troy Kruse 2 - Mark Smith 3 - Jason Miller 4 - Jared Cooper 5 - Mickey Leth 6 - Jay Farris 7 - Jody Miller 8 - Mike Stover, Jr. 9 - Curt Messina 10 - Melony Bold 11 - Jake Hartley
Hobby Stocks 1 - Brad Pilinko 2 - Chris Manucy 3 - Randy Moody 4 - Randy Wilkes 5 - Bucky York 6 - Glenn Nedrow 7 - Grady Lundquist 8 - Brenda Little 9 - Dave Halstead, Jr. 10 - Jody Stratton