After two weeks off thanks to nature and a holiday, throngs of excited fans and determined racers got together at Ocala Speedway for an intense night of racing action. And as darkness fell, distant lightning danced across the sky as over 100 race cars took their turns on Ocala's clay. Despite the distant light show, not a drop of rain fell at the speedway once things got underway, and a large crowd of excited fans saw a fantastic night of racing action.
The Mini Stocks had endured the longest span between races at Ocala, mainly due to scheduling and weather issues, so it was only fitting that they got the first shot at attacking the clay and each other. And they wasted no time in doing just that, as the opening lap of the first heat race saw a pile up in turn two that sent Cole Ridenhour to the pits on a hook. Ridenhour, who has been the closest competition to Keith Briggs' dominance this season, would be done for the night before he could complete the first lap.
Johnny Zackery had his 119Z on the pole at the green, but Keith Briggs had something to prove and had overtaken him by lap 2. Briggs was in full control throughout the race, far outpacing the second and third place cars except just after the only two interruptions for caution flags. While Briggs would easily win, Paul Combast raced his way to a second place finish and Johnny Zackery placed third. Michael Bagley Jr. and William Stalnaker rounded out the top five.
David Miller Jr. had surprised Grady Christian with a victory the last time the Hobby Stocks hit the track at Ocala, but with the Pepsi Six Pack Race 4 rained out and the holiday break, everyone wondered if the mojo had worn off? Both drivers had to work their way through some traffic, but ended up in front and battling it out once again. Christian would steal the lead from Daniel Miller Jr. on lap 4, with David Miller Jr. not far behind in third place.
The caution flag would slow things down on the next lap, and on the restart the 21 of David Miller was right behind Grady Christian's machine. It was only a lap or so later that they began racing side by side, with Miller eventually gaining control on lap 7. David Miller Jr. would once again hold off Grady Christian and earn the win, while David Kinsey followed Christian to earn the third place trophy. Kevin Durden and Doc Batson would take advantage of some late race blunders by other racers to move up and take fourth and fifth, respectively.
It took three heat races and a B main race to set the field for the late models, and the feature race was no less exciting. A literal who's who of Florida late model dirt racing was on hand and they provided some of the most intense action of the evening. And after the field was set there were 23 top late models behind Marshall Austin as the green flag waved.
Johnny Collins jumped to the front on the second lap and looked in control, but never count out drivers like Mark Whitener, Ivedent Lloyd, and Shane Williams. Collins, Whitener, and Lloyd, would swap positions multiple times throughout the race, and would have to contend with slower cars quite often as they battled with each other. Right behind them were Shane Williams, Shan Smith, Jack Nosbisch, and Rich Pratt, who were just as competitive and looking for a line to get them to the front. In the end it was Mark Whitener who would prevail, with Johnny Collins following for the second spot. Ivedent Lloyd settled for the third spot while Shane Williams crossed the line fourth and Jack Nosbisch was fifth.
The V8 Thunder Stock division had been created with the idea of giving former asphalt racers from Ocala Speedway an inviting way to make the switch to dirt. Some jumped in headfirst, while others have slowly returned to challenge the clay with the passage of time. A couple more former asphalt racers showed up this week, and both ended up in the top five, while some of their former asphalt cohorts who had more dirt experience, did not fare as well.
Micheal Stalnaker was an exception to that, driving hard and taking a hard fought win. Jerrid Bennett would settle for the second place finsh, while James Erickson would also make an exception by placing third. Behind them were two more familiar names who were relative newcomers to the dirt. Patrick Mennenga would take the fourth spot while Matt Schell would place fifth.
Racing action returns to Ocala Speedway on July 18th as the Hobby Stock division makes up the 4th race in the Pepsi Six Pack Challenge Series that was rained out last month. $1000 will go to the winner and an overflow field of top Hobby Stocks is expected. Expect more excitement form the Open Wheel Modifieds as they return to Ocala, plus action from the Mini Stocks, V8 Thunder Stocks, and the Gladiators. And all kids should bring their bicycles to Ocala Speedway on the 18th as another round of kids' bike races is planned!
Ocala Speedway Results for 7/11/08
1- 5W Mark Whitener 2- 5 Johnny Collins 3- 21 Ivedent Lloyd 4- 7 Shane Williams 5- 12 Jack Nosbisch 6- 17SS Shan Smith 7- 42 Marshall Austin Jr. 8- 0 Rich Pratt 9- 26 Dillon Wood 10- 66 Mike Bresnahan 11- 21P Josh Peacock 12- 32 Roger Crouse 13- 37 Adam Bendenbaugh 14- 9 Johnny Waldrop 15- 51 Unknown Driver 16- 16 Wayne Shugart 17- 55 Kaleb Bedenbaugh 18- 47 Jeff Conyers 19- 07 David Clegg 20- 53 John Rankin 21- 33 Jeff Mathews 22- 18 Mike Eubanks 23- 23 Lawton Minchew DNS- 10 Mike Warren
1- 19T Keith Briggs 2- 19C Daniel "Paul" Combast 3- 119Z Johnny Zachery 4- 3B Michael Bagley Jr. 5- 59 William Stalnaker 6- 40M David Miller 7- 02 John Layerd 8- 55 Arnold Perkins 9- 14 Frank Prouty 10- 26 Christopher Prouty DNS- 25 Cole Ridenhour DNS- 23 Jim Nichols DQ- 22 Shirlene Hammond
1- 21 David Miller Jr. 2- 36 Grady Christian 3- XX David Kinsey 4- 35 Kevin Durden 5- 10 Doc Batson 6- 04 Bubba Christian 7- 99 Daniel Miller Jr. 8- 23 Glenn Baum 9- 81 Donald Woosley 10- 00T Eddie Tovet 11- 57 Wally Schneider 12- 28 Brandon Elwood 13- XXX1 Shane Williams 14- 18E Mike Eubanks 15- 1 Dalton Lanich 16- 4 Dustin Tyre 17- 36S Kenneth W. Sowers 18- 18S Chad Scranton
V8 Thunder Stock
1- 19 Michael Stalnaker 2- 12 Jerrid Bennett 3- 7E James Erickson 4- 10 Patrick Mennenga 5- 57 Matt Schell 6- 44 Todd Roberts 7- 1S Jeff Stalnaker Sr. 8- 5W Zachery Perry 9- 72 Terry Dunbar 10- 66 James Sealey 11- 4E Harold Erickson 12- 19A Jerome Dipple 13- 00 Eddie Lake 14- 56 Stir Padgett 15- 81 Courtney Eubanks 16- 63 Bill Thomas 17- 18W Chris Watson 18- 17 Mariah Berry DNS- 14 James Sullivan III