Whitener in Winners Circle for UDLMCS “Alabama Clash”
By Rick Anges
Series owner Ken Kinney (L) and Mark Whitener, driver of the #7
Phenix City, Ala. - The United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series has already turned a few heads in 2008. With two full races and one rain out to complete over 40 cars and crews have been on hand at each event much to the delight of the hard core dirt late model fans.
The series would make its first venture out of the Sunshine State to test the waters at the Historic and beautiful East Alabama Motor Speedway. Before the gates were opened the haulers were lined up from the pit gate all the way to the highway. Forty-Seven Late Models would roll through the 40 year-old speedways gates and another record would fall for the young UDLMCS.
Qualifying for the $4,000 to win 50-lap feature got under way and it was easy to tell that some of the drivers who had never been to high-banked 3/8-mile oval underestimated the speed it would produce. The turns were progressively banked ending up at 15 degrees. No fencing in the turns or on the backstretch had some drivers back peddling to keep from leaving the arena.
Mark Whitener of Middleburg, Fl. barely lifted as he blistered the Alabama clay to a 15.24 second run to take the Zeigler Racing Engines/ Extreme Motor Sports Fast Qualifier and an extra $200. Georgia racer Jay Johnson would follow with a 15.38 time. Local favorites William Thomas (15.53) and Dana Eiland (15.53) would fill out the second row.
The top twelve cars were locked into the feature from qualifying. The next twelve would come from the top four finishers in three 15 lap B-Mains. Each of the Mains could have been a feature race at any racetrack across the South East.
In the first B-Main Dusty Cone crossed the stripe first followed by Jeff Matthews, Jack Nosbisch and Bobby Eiland. Second B-Main winners were Shan Smith, Adam Bedenbaugh, and Ocala race winner Shane Williams. The final B-Main transfers were Jordy Nipper, Terrance Nowell, Jeff Culpper and Bill Howard.
The final four drivers for the twenty-eight car field decided by series points were Pace American UDLMCS Rookie points leader Justin Choquette, Marshall Austin, Jeff Conyers and 16 year-old Even Becton.
The top eight drivers were given “The Challenge” to start from the rear for a chance at an additional $1500 to win to make it a possible chance to take home $5500. Although the temptation was there none of the drivers elected to take the chance of making it to the front from twenty-eight places back.
Whitener and Johnson roared side by side into turn one with Johnson taking the lead out of two. Johnson would slide high as they went back into turn one allowing Whitener, Eiland and Thomas to get by. Johnson would finish with a solid sixth place run.
As Whitener would check out with Eiland several car lengths back in second. The battle was for the third spot as Johnny Collins put the heat on William Thomas. Collins was mastering the low line and each lap looked like he would make the pass coming out of four but Thomas would roar back on the outside to hold the spot. Thomas suddenly slowed and his run for the checkers was over as he pulled the 22 machine into the pits He would finish nineteenth for the night.
Ken Kinney and Mark Whitener Whitener would catch the back of the pack as the laps would down and this would allow EAMS veteran Dana Eiland in the K9 machine to close for some great side by side racing. The Alabama fans were on their feet as they cheered on their local favorite but a late race caution would take the leaders out of lapped traffic and on the green-white-checkers Whitener showed his strength and powered his Roberts Construction/Russell Brown racecars mount to the big win. “The car really worked great tonight,” said Whitener.
Dana Eiland finished in the second spot “ Mark ran a good race I can’t believe he figured out that slick spot so quick” he said with a sly Alabama smile. Johnny Collins finished in the third spot, Keith Nosbisch took fourth and with his fifth place finish “Showtime” Shan Smith would take over the top spot in the points race.
The United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series moves back to Eastbay Raceway Park for it rain out make up then on to North Florida Speedway in Lake City May 3rd for North Florida Late Model Championship.
RESULTS: 1. MARK WHITENER 2. DANA EILAND 3. JOHNNY COLLINS 4. KEITH NOSBISCH 5. SHAN SMITH 6. JOHNSON 7. JACKIE NOSBISCH 8. TERRANCE NOWELL 9. ADAM BEDENBAUGH 10. MONTANA DUDLEY 11. ROGER CROUSE 12. JEFF MATHEWS 13. DUSTY CONE 14. MARSHAL AUSTIN 15. EVAN BECTON 16. RUSSELL BROWN JR 17. BILL HOWARD 18. SHANE WILLIAMS 19. WILLIAM THOMAS 20. JORDY NAPPER 21. RICK CULPEPPER 22. J R MOSLEY 23. JUSTIN CHOQUETTE 24. JEFF CULPEPPER 25. JEFF CONYERS 26. RICHIE STEPHENS 27. LARRY HARROD 28. BOBBY EILAND