United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series Title Fight Heats Up
The United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series has the biggest weekend of the year coming up soon.
On Oct 23 Ocala Speedway hosts round one of the Florida State Late Model All-Star Championship and the next night everyone heads to Volusia Speedway Park for round two.
Though the top competitor in the two day event will be honored with the huge Florida State Late Model All-Star Championship trophy, economic hard times has reared its ugly head once again in 2009. The originally scheduled bonus of $5000 has been pulled due to those very same economic realities.
"All three parties, the United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series, Ocala Speedway and Volusia Speedway park wish we could have done this, but everybody has been hurt in 2009 and this is just one more casualty", said UDLMCS promoter Ken Kinney, Jr.
It could still be a pretty good weekend if someone gets hot, the 50 lap Ocala race pays $3000 to win and the 50 lap race on Saturday pays the winner a cool $5000.
Looking ahead to the season finale for the United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series, even more economic realities are bringing changes. The Kim Allen Memorial, to be held on November 21st at Hendry County Motorsports Park, was to have been a $10,000 to win, 100 lap race.
Consideration was even given a few months ago to expanding this event to a two-day extravaganza. Again the economic conditions are dictating a different course. The race has been scaled back to a $3000 winner's share of the purse, and the number of laps will be announced next week.
The 2009 United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series Champion will be crowned on that night. Drivers who have been locked into a front row draw are Keith Nosbisch, Wayne Reutimann, Jr and Shan Smith. Dennis Williams, the leading Rookie in 2009, and Jeff Mathews both have earned a provisional for the final race of the year.
It has been a tough year in many respects for most competitors, promoters and yes, even fans. Ocala Speedway had nine rain-outs during the summer months, many drivers have had to cut back their programs or park their cars for the season. Fans, faced with layoffs and other adverse economic conditions, have had to limit their attendance. Sponsors have had to tighten their belts and reduce or even curtail their efforts to support short track racing.
"It's been very hard year on everybody," Ken Kinney stated, "but we will get through this and things will improve. We certainly appreciate the efforts of the drivers to support our series and the dirt tracks in Florida."
As the season winds to a close, it appears the fight for the Championship is going to go down to the wire. Jason Fitzgerald, Mark Whitener and last year's champ Johnny Collins are at the top of the heap, with the new points standings to be announced shortly. Each driver can drop two races during the year. After these are calculated, it certainly will tighten up the chase even more.
Oddly, the current points leader may be the most frustrated driver in Florida. Jason Fitzgerald has been so close to getting the winner's check in the UDLMCS but denied every time. Beginning in June, Jason ran 2nd three times in a row, and was fighting Keith Nosbisch for the lead at Hendry County in the last race.
Fitzgerald was making what he thought was the pass for the lead and a visit to the Winners Circle when the two cars got together in turn three. The UDLMCS officials deemed Fitzgerald at fault and he had to settle for sixth. Fans can be sure the Jacksonville pilot behind the wheel of the Bobby Labonte / Tire Kingdom #7 will have more than a points chase on his mind when the green flag waves next weekend.
For more information on the United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series, visit www.uniteddirtlatemodels.com
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