Citrus County Speedway Kicks off 53rd Racing Season
by Larry MacMillan
Curtis Newman picks up Modified win at Citrus (file photo)
Beautiful weather greeted a full house of race fans who came to see the 142 registered race drivers kick off the 2008 short track racing season at Floridas premier 3/8ths mile, Citrus County Speedway Saturday night.
Seven divisions made for a full pit in heat and feature action in the Open Wheel Modifieds, Sportsman, Mini Stocks, Pure Stocks, 4 Cylinder Bombers and feature races for the wild and daring Figure 8s and the V8 Thunder Stock Rookies.
Young Curtis Neumann proved to be the man to beat in the Open Wheel Modifieds in their heat and the 13 car 30 lap feature. He launched his new Hise Roofing ride from 5th in the heat to out run the 7 car field for the win.
He drew the pill for a 7th starting spot in the feature and survived a spin while in the lead from Richie Smith to regain his spot in the running and outrunning Doug Miller and Robbie Cooper to take the first Modified point race of the year.
Richie Smith came from the back of the field on the restart to salvage a fourth place finish over Bobby Taylor who still has some dialing in to do on his race car.
Teddy Nelson the defending champion took the win in the second heat, started on the outside pole in the feature but ran into mechanical problems and a minor crash in the feature for a DNF. Thirty two Mods are registered to race this year.
Fifteen of 45 registered Sportsmen made the opening night race and it was a five car battle royal in the race for the checkers in their 20 lap feature. It was a four car run for the flag in their main with Daniel Webster coming off the inside pole Shelton Bowers off the outside pole and Mike Veltman starting third. The 4th car in contention was Tom Posavec who had to make a run from the 11th starting spot.
Veltman survived a spin early in the race to come back and over take early leader Webster and Bowers for the win, followed in a nose to tail run for second by Bowers, Webster, and Posavec. Arthur Conquest locked down a 5th place finish. Webster and Bowers took the heat wins putting Bowers in the point lead after one week of action.
Seventeen of 33 registered Mini Stocks came to put on a very competitive show for the fans and thats exactly what they did. Robbie Yoakam is back and he made that quite clear in both his heat and the 20 lap feature run with back to back wins for the night. The real battle was for second with George Neumann locking onto the spot until 15th starter Cling Foley made his way through traffic and made a last lap pass on Neumann for the spot.
Foley received the Citrus County Chronicle Driver of the Year award at half time that may have inspired him to prove that he was deserving of the award with that ride. Neumann had settle for third just ahead of Kevin Harrod and Mark Powers who started 10th. Neumann won the second heat.
Thirty Three 4 Cylinder Bombers made the starting field in a knock down drag out 20 lap battle that saw a young 14 year old rookie Brandon Watson show the rest of the field how to drive through all that traffic to Victory Lane. It was a scorers nightmare with so many cars on the track but the youngster took off from the pole in both his heat and the feature and never looked back for his first win ever in a regular stock car.
Richard Kuhn drove from 15th to 2nd over 6th starter John Kidwell, 10th starter Melissa Hunley and 21st starter Chris Harvey. Jeremy Root took the win in the second heat and Richard Kuhn locked in the third heat. Forty five Bombers have already registered for the season.
It took 4 heats and a 13 car B-Main to weed out 24 of the 33 cars that were vying for starting positions in their feature. Bill Ryan brought out a brand new race car and showed the field that he is going to defend his 2007 championship with a vengeance. Bill just blew the rest of the field away in both his heat and roared from his 7th starting spot to the point in just a few laps and it was all over but his Kodak moment in the winners circle which he passed on to get to tech to make sure everything was kosher.
Tim Wilson brought out his old race car from moth balls and despite its appearance definitely had what it takes to come home with a second place finish and a heat win. New comer Tom Potts inherited a third place finish after Steve Hise was D.Q.d in post race inspection. Bill Ryans team mate Chad Markland inherited Bills 2007 Championship car and locked down a 5th place finish from his 9th starting spot. Larry Welter and Daniel Bouchard picked up the other heat wins. Winner of the B-Main was Matt Schell.
Sixteen out of 31 registered Figure 8 racers had the fans on their feet and on the edge of their seats for their 20 lap main event. The Hage family is on a roll again with Darryl Hage taking the first win of the season. John Baranauskas is a new name to the local fans but he is one that the Figure 8 crew is going to have to reckon with before is all over rocking to a second place finish over Wayne Calkins, Seth Nistok and Joey Catterelli. Figure 8s are due back in two weeks for more exciting action.
Seventeen rookies opened up their season with a barn burner V8 Thunder Stock 20 lap main event. Fifty three cars are registered for car numbers and a lot of the new kids are just that, 14 years old and up. Young Austin Roberts came off the outside pole and took the point away from Jason Hise and never looked back for his very first win ever. Dustin Swearingen out ran Joe Floyd, Jon Brown and Alexander Wilder for the top five positions.
Opening night was quite an outstanding start to the speedways 53rd racing season and next week is going to be even better. The Tampa Bay Area Racing Association Winged Sprints bring in their 800 horsepower rockets to headline another great race card. These racing machines turn the Citrus County Speedway 3/8ths mile in the low 12 second bracket and several have been clocked at 11.9 seconds. Now thats fast. Joining them will be the Mini Stocks, Street Stocks for their first race of the season, Pure Stocks and V8 Thunder Stock Rookies are back.
Open Wheel Modified Feature 30 Laps 13 Cars 1. #01 Curtis Neumann Inverness - 1st Season Win 2. #53 Doug Miller - Largo 3. #98 Robbie Cooper Bronson 4. #42 Richie Smith Hernando 5. #66 Bobby Taylor Crystal River
1st Heat Winner - #01 Curtis Neumann 2nd Heat Winner - #34 Teddy Nelson Pinellas Park
Sportsman Feature 20 Laps 15 Cars
1. #155 Mike Veltman Crystal River 1st Season Win 2. #32 Shelton Bowers Ocala 3. #42 Daniel Webster Brooksville 4. #01 Tom Posavec Dunnellon 5. #02 Arthur Conquest - ?