If anyone ever wanted to know what happens when a pit area overflowing with sprint cars from two differing groups are turned loose together on a race track, the answer is that it means excitement.
The effort to bring together the best sprint cars in Florida took cooperation between two race tracks, and some understanding and cooperation between drivers who were running two different rules packages. Thanks to hard work and the will to make it happen, the fans at Ocala Speedway were treated to quite a show on Friday night.
Unfortunately part of the excitement was tempered with some serious moments as well, resulting in some delays in the show. The first incident involved a sprint car flipping on the front stretch and impacting the fencing in front of the grandstand.
While the chain link and support posts did not fair well against the race car, the catch cables did their job exactly as they were designed to do, keeping the car out and away from the grandstands. No one was injured in the incident, and after some repairs to the fencing the racing continued.
The second delay came during a restart on lap 7 of the A-main race when the 95 machine of Jeff Parks was involved in a nasty tangle with another car in turn one.
Parks stated to the first Ocala Speedway crews on the scene that he thought he may have seriously hurt his neck or back, so every precaution was taken to assure that any injury was not aggravated in removing him from the damaged car.
The extrication was done slowly and precisely by both Ocala Speedway crews and Marion County Fire/Rescue personnel who were called to the scene. Parks was removed form the car after a lengthy delay and transported to a local hospital for further treatment. No update on his condition was available after racing Friday night. After four competitive heat races and two B-main events, a final field of twenty-four 360 sprint cars took the green flag and raced for 7 fast laps before a three car mishap in turn 4 slowed things down with a caution. It was on the restart from this initial caution when Jeff Parks tangled with another car, resulting in his injuries. Once the race restarted from there, it was obvious that Gene Lasker and Bryn Gohn had the two cars to beat on the night as the two of them battled for the lead. Lasker was aggressive and held the lead despite Gohn's best efforts, and late in the race Gohn was forced to retire after his car expired and coasted into the infield grass.
By the time the final laps rolled around the field had been whittled down by mechanical woes and accidents, and a final incident in turn 4 took out the cars running in the second and third place spots with just three laps remaining. Danny Jones spun in turn four to end his night as Bryn Gohn coasted to the infield. That left only Lasker and Gavin Thomas on the lead laps, and when the green waved they battled to the finish. Gene Lasker took the win and Thomas placed second, followed by the 92 machine for third place.
The Mini Stocks took to Ocala's clay with Keith Briggs mired in the rear of the field and looking for a route to the front. Johnny Zackery had his brand new race car out in front early, but relinquished the lead later to Paul Combast. And while that was playing out Keith Briggs was busy working his way through the field toward the front of the pack, where he eventually found that Combast was in no mood to move over and let him pass. It took some effort from Briggs, but he managed to find room on the outside in turn 4 and drove to the win, followed by Combast and the 55 of Arnold Perkins.
Grady Christian ad David Miller Jr have been trading places all season in the Hobby Stock division, taking turns winning races and enjoying the intense competition. This time around it was Grady Christian's turn to get the win, after first holding off Wally Schneider and then hanging on to outlast Miller. Robert Hicks would also figure into the equation as he managed a well deserved third place finish.
The V8 Thunder Stocks have had their share of excitement in recent races and none of that was lost during a few weeks away from the track. The battle up front came from the same racing stable as Doc Batson, Michael Stalnaker, and Jeff Stalnaker Jr, traded places and paint as they raced for the lead. Batson held the point until Michael Stalnaker got the better of him on a restart, stealing the lead and holding off everyone else. In the end it was Michael Stalnaker who crossed the finish line first, but a visit to the tech shed later resulted in a violation and a DQ, making Doc Batson the winner of record. Jeff Stalnaker Jr finished in the third spot.
By the time the Gladiator division got the green flag as the last feature race of the evening, the other divisions had left them a rather nasty rough spot in turn four that figured heavily in how things would play out during the race. Greg Bonynge figured out how to avoid the hole and drove to a first place finish, while James Gentiles and David Wells rounded out the top three.
Ocala Speedway returns to action on Friday, September 12th, as the Open Wheel Modifieds join the Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks, V8 Thunder Stocks, and Gladiators, for another night of intense racing action. Fans are reminded to bring their old cell phones to the speedway to turn in for a two dollar discount off the admission price. The phones will be recycled and traded for phone cards that American soldiers overseas can used to contact family members at home.
Ocala Speedway Results for 9/5/08
360 Sprints 1- 8J Gene Lasker 2- 29 Gavin Thomas 3- 92 4- 65 Bret Cole 5- 3 Otto Scrape 6- 8 Rich Alexander 7- 14 Ryan Partin 8- 38 Tony Agin 9- 15 Rocky Sullivan 10- 7X Guy Bes 11- 4B Bryn Gohn 12- 80 Danny Jones 13- XD Tommy Denton 14- 47 Scott Anderson 15- 0 Phil Petty 16- 5 Kurt Taylor 17- 83 18- 6 Mike Schroder 19- 43 Gene Machinga 20- 95 Jeff Parks 21- 1J Willie Jude 22- 19 Barry McCance 23- 04 24- 9 Tim Grubaugh
1- 19T Keith Briggs 2- 19C Paul Combast 3- 55 Arnold Perkins 4- 40M David Miller 5- 59 William Stalnaker 6- 14 Frank Prouty 7- 21 Ray Ethridge 8- 119Z Johnny Zackery
1- 36 Grady Christian 2- 21 David Miller Jr. 3- 31 Robert Hicks 4- 57 Wally Schneider 5- 04 Bubba Christian 6- 23 Glenn Baum 7- 83 Joe Boyd 8- 08 William Edwards 9- 10 Michael Stalnaker 10- 89 Trey Cameron 11- 44 Dean Jarvis 12- 15 Donald Paugh 13- 00 Martin Johnson 14- 81 Donald Woosley
V8 Thunder Stock
1- 10 Doc Batson 2- 1S Jeff Stalnaker Jr. 3- 44 Todd Roberts 4- 4E Harold Erickson 5- 66 James Sealey 6- 3X Justin Tilton 7- 17E Justyn Elwood 8- 69A Jonathan Appleby 9- 81 Courtney Eubanks 10- 1 Steven Visneski 11- 15 Luke Sadler 12- 12 Jerrid Bennett 13- 05 Donald Winne 14- 47 Chris Fontaine 15- 14 James Sullivan III 16- 71 Jackson Nay DNS- 18W Chris Watson DNS- 9 Robert Ray DNS- 5W Zachery Perry DNS- 7E James Erickson DQ (tech) 19 Michael Stalnaker
1- 3X Greg Bonynge 2- 8 James Gentiles 3- 35 David Walls 4- 2 Roberta Cooper 5- 2B Guy Bacelo Jr. 6- 63 Brian Brogan 7- 78 Paul Hahn 8- 51 Wes Railing Jr.