Nosbisch Hangs on for “Battle on the Blacktop” Win
By Rick Anges
Punta Gorda, Fl. (8-22-09) Once again the “Dirt” cars of the United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series invaded the “Blacktop” of Charlotte County Motorsports Park for the second annual “Battle on the Blacktop”.
Last year the fans were treated to the wild looking machines of the UDLMCS and a fifty-lap race that went green to checkers. “The Locomotive” Johnny Collins took the win after “The Magic Man” Mark Whitener lead the early stages of the race.
Several teams were on hand for the Friday night practice season and on the cool track were running 14.8 second lap times quicker then their pavement counter parts.
Qualifying was held under the bright sunshine with mid 90 degree temperatures. First out was the point’s leader Jason Fitzgerald. Looking like a natural on the asphalt, he hooked up to the tricky surface and ran a 15.015 seconds lap.
The rest of the field ran mid 15 second lap times until former asphalt ace Rich Pratt upped the ante with a 15.011 run to take the Zeigler Racing Engines fast qualifier award. The last time Pratt visited the Charlotte track he walked away with a win the old Florida Pro series. But this night would not be as good. Pratt would have to retire from the race on lap fourteen with an oil pressure problem and finish thirteenth on the night.
Before the race the fans were treated to an autograph session and were able to get an up close look at the wild looking Dirt Late Models. Pills were drawn for the first four starting positions. Keith Nosbisch would draw the number one starting position putting him o the pole for the fifty-lap $3,000 to win feature event. Outside on the front row would be last year’s winner and 2008 Champion Johnny Collins. Jason Fitzgerald would start from the inside of row two with Pratt starting fourth.
It was finally time to get down to business and the fans were on their feet as the field roared to the green flag. It was all Nosbisch in the early stages as he just pulled away from field. Lap after lap he would distance himself from the rest of the pack.
The first caution came out for what appeared to be a fuel leak on the Pratt machine. The fast qualifiers car was checked on the backstretch and all appeared to be ok but soon after Pratt exited the speedway never to return.
As Nosbisch once again pulled away Fitzgerald would spend the next twenty laps battling with Collins for the second spot. Fitzgerald would stick right on the bottom of the racetrack running just in Collins tire tracks. The Locomotive appeared to pick up a small push coming out of the turns and the cagey Fitzgerald took advantage of it putting his nose under the reigning champ. A drag race down the backstretch Fitzgerald was able to take the spot away.
Nosbisch had a full straightaway lead when Fitzgerald took over second but the Jacksonville driver was able to cut into the lead lap after after lap. All that went out the window though when the car of Dennis Williams spun with fifteen laps to go bringing out only the second yellow of the evening.
Fitzgerald would start on the back bumper of Nosbisch for the restart. The fans were on their feet as the two went at it lap after lap.
Fitzgerald would ride right on the back bumper of the leader. Fitzgerald would give Nosbisch a bump going into three but the crafty veteran would have none of it as he would o on to win the second annual Battle on the Blacktop. Second place Fitzgerald said “I gotta figure out how to win one of these.” Third went to Johnny Collins, fourth was Mike Bresnahan and rounding out the top five was Dillon Wood.
Finishing Order: 1. 102.5 Keith Nosbisch 2. 07 Jason Fitzgerald 3. 5C Johnny Collins 4. 55 Mike Bresnahan 5. 26 Dillon Wood 6. 5F Mark Whitener 7. 35 Christian Augpurger 8. 24 Dennis Williams 9. 311 Kenny Monahan 10. 61 Thomas Scott 11. 98R LB Skaggs 12. 14 Roger Crouse 13. 0 Rich Pratt 14. 98B Cody Allen
#1 David Farmer Did not start the race or qualify
The next race for UDLMCS will be Labor Late Model Shoot-Out at Volusia Speedway Park