Kurtz wins Shortened Top Gun Sprint Car Feature at Volusia Speedway Park
Barberville, FL (July 28, 2009) It was "Wrasslin' and Racin'" night Saturday at Volusia Speedway Park but the best "match" of the night turned out to be the one between CSP Track Manager Tonya Moschell and Mother Nature. Tonya wouldn't give up and defeated her nemesis in two out of three falls and got the show in... and a wild one it would be.
With 25 Top Gun Sprints and 20 Florida Mini Sprints in the pits along with a great field of Modifieds, Mini Stocks and Four Cylinder Challengers, many of the fans were just settling into watching the matches being put on by the Florida Wrestling Association when a light rain began to fall. At the same time, the Top Gun Sprints were on the track for hot laps.
Unfortunately, the rains became harder forcing the cars from the track and sending the wrestlers for cover as well. The wet stuff continued for about 20 minutes and during much of that time, the sun was shining! Once the rains stopped, Track Manager Moschell and her crew went to work on the racing surface while the FWA crew took the squeegies to the wrestling mat.
While the VSP crew was working the track into shape, the wrestlers went back to work and put on a great show for the fans with enough bloody faces, foreign objects and interference to make even the late Gordon Solie proud. As the matches ended, the race track was ready once again for action.
Because of the delays, some changes were made as all cars were allowed on the track to work the surface in, but only the Sprint Cars took actual hot laps. The Mini Stocks and Four Cylinder Challengers were now set to run features only to help speed up the program.
Heat races kept the drivers guessing for feature set-ups as the track was still slick and a trip into the outside groove was a trip to no-man's land for awhile.
Drivers in the Budweiser Modified feature were still searching for the right groove early in the race but the guy with the best set-up on this night would be Larry Burkis who jumped out front and survived several yellow flag periods to take his first win of the year.
Jimmy Carter and Rob Underwood tried their best but were unable to catch the fleet Burkis and had to settle for second and third. Greg Vandergrift, who had a very strong car in winning his heat race, grabbed fourth spot while Jason Fitzgerald was fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Jamie Carter, Chris Littrell, Daron Smith, Charlie MacNichol and Cody Blair. A nice field of 22 Modifieds started the feature event.
David Pleaugh led the early going of the Florida Mini Sprint Association feature but he was unable to hold off Harold Matthews who blew by and led the remaining distance. Matthews, a paraplegic who drives using hand controls, had the field covered while Tim O'Donnell got by Pleaugh to claim the runner-up spot. Pleaugh was third followed by Steady Jesse Teed and the April VSP winner Russ Heider. Chris Pacetti, Brett O'Donnell, Jody McKenzie, Gavin Thomas and Billy Chivers completed the top ten.
The RBC Bank Mini Stocks were up next for their monthly extra-cash event and it was veteran Rob Underwood, who has driven about everything at VSP exept maybe the water truck, taking a hard-fought win as several drivers had their turn at the front although attrition would play a big part in this race.
Underwood took the lead with five laps to go, then was re-passed by Calvin Christian. Christian looked to have the race in the bag but Underwood put his years of experience to work and made just the right move at the right time on the final set of turns to snatch the victory. Christian was second followed by Steve Mooers. The most interesting run of the night was probably the fourth place effort of Jared Allison. Allison, a two-time Orlando Speedworld Super Late Model champion, had never been on dirt in his life. Driving his dad's Mini-Stock, things weren't looking good as he got no practice or heat race due to the weather. Allison looked right at home on the slick surface and motored home a few lengths behind the lead trio. Tony White came back from an early race spin to take fifth while Mark Eldridge, Kris Prouty, Mark Taylor and Dan Kerr rounded out the finishers.
Young Dalton Strehle thoroughly dominated the Aerotec Aluminum Four Cylinder Challenger feature building up a huge lead and nearly lapping the field in the process. It was Strehle's first win of the year and, needless to say, he was very happy in victory lane. Hank Goodrich finished a distant second trailed by Danny Lunn, Gilbert Espy and Daniel Laird. Completing the top ten were Brian Smith, David Ladrie (coming back from rolling his car the week before), R.J. Glaser, Alan Scott and Tom Parker.
The Top Gun Sprints rolled out last for their 25 lap main event and it would be a wild one. Matt Kurtz, who won the first heat, wasted little time in placing himself at the front of the pack and was having things pretty much his own way before a multi-car crash sent Otto Scrape tumbling along the guard rail in turn two. Although a bit shaken, Scrape emerged unharmed but his car was done for the night. The other two heat race winners, Mark Ruel, Jr. and Tommy Denton, were also out of the race along with Troy Knowles.
Kurtz maintained his advantage following the restart but all eyes were now on veteran Gene Lasker as he now looked to finally have his car hooked up. Lasker passed Tony Agin for second place and was beginning to reel in the leader when all thing came to a halt with four laps remaining.
Alan Kaluzniak and another car touched coming down the front stretch sending Kaluzniak's car into a violent series of flips. Top Gun point leader Ryan Partin spun to avoid Kaluzniak and crashed hard into the inside wall.
Awake and alert, Kaluzniak told track emergency crews that he was having severe pain in his chest area. Kaluzniak was then carefully extracted from his racer and later transported to the hospital via Volusia County EVAC. There is no word on his condition as of this press release.
With the time being well past midnight, track and Top Gun officials decided to declare the race complete with 21 laps in the books. Kurtz was awarded the win, his second consecutive in the Series. Lasker took second with Agin third and Bruce Durden fourth. Keith Butler, in a rare dirt track appearance, drove to a nice fifth place finish.
With the race finish reverting back to the last completed lap, Kaluzniak was credited with sixth place ahead of Mike Schroeder. Partin ended up eighth and maintained his point lead although he has a badly torn-up Sprint Car to repair for the next race. Lady drivers rounded out the top ten with Amanda Ferguson ninth and Christine Auld tenth.
Rounding out the finishing field were Rich Alexander, A.J. Maddox, Steve Stone, Brandon Grubaugh, Ruel, Jr., Knowles, Scrape, Denton, Terry Witherspoon and Jeanette Burnett. Several cars were unable to start the feature including Danny Jones, Mark Chicca, Rocky Sullivan and T.W. Parkinson. Fans were also disappointed that veteran Late Model driver Rich Pratt had his first-ever Sprint Car effort go sour early in the hot lap session as he was also unable to compete.
Next Saturday, August 1, join us for 2nd Annual Barberville Wiener Nationals - Dachshund Racing and Late Models, Sportsman, Street Stock, 4-Cyl Challenger $250 to Win, Mini Stock $500 to win. Racing starts at 7:30 pm. General admission is $10.00 adult, students 11 - 15 $5.00, children 10 and under FREE. Drive-in parking $10.00.
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