Raymond Vann Tops Ocala Mods - John Gerstner Takes Second Half Title
by Dave Westerman
The final points night for the WIND-FM Classic Rock Modifieds turned out to be extremely interesting Friday night at Ocala Speedway as Raymond Vann finally put it all together for his first win of the season and one of the Gerstner brothers walked off with the second-half points championship, just not the one everyone was expecting to win it.
Luck of the draw put Vann on the pole, but you could tell this was going to be a wild one as three tries were needed just to get the race under way.
Vann grabbed the lead at the outset and built up a healthy lead while David Baxley was on the charge, moving into second while Larry Goolsby and point leader Jeremy Gerstner were going at it tooth and nail for third place.
As the green flag laps continued to click off, Baxley reeled Vann in and was on his bumper as the field came to the half-way signal in the 30-lapper. Things got a bit too close as Vann and Baxley touched in turn four. Vann kept his car on track and remained in the lead as Baxley did a great job steering his machine through the infield, re-emerging on the track behind Goolsby and Jeremy Gerstner in fourth place.
Baxley settled in behind Goolsby and Gerstner as the two continued to go at it hot and heavy, surprising many fans who knew all Gerstner had to do was to hold his position to claim the championship.
Things got crazy on lap 20 as Goolsby and Gerstner tangled going one with both drivers going to the rear of the field. On the restart they got together again, this time resulting in damage to Gerstner's car which put him on the sidelines.
Vann continued to hold the top spot with Baxley right behind him. With Jeremy Gerstner in the pits and the third place driver in points, Johnnie Newsome in the infield after dropping out early, Jeremy Gerstner's brother John now found himself not only in third spot on the race track, but now with a shot at taking the second-half points crown from his brother.
A lap 22 spin by Timmy Gamble slowed the action one more time but Vann held strong to the lead to take his first win of the season. Baxley took second while John Gerstner's third spot allowed him to take the point championship.
Mike Wilson took fourth just ahead of Alan McCafferty while John Foerg, Jason "The Deer Hunter" Garver, Bobby Valeo, Mark Emberson, and Goolsby rounded out the top ten.
Modified heats went to McCafferty and Jeremy Gerstner.
The Diamond H Air & Heat Sportsman were again doing a lot of bumping and grinding in their 20-lap headliner with three caution flags in the first six laps.
Things weren't going well for co-point leaders Frank Buchanan and William Edwards. Buchanan was sent to the rear of the field on lap three for spinning Dusty Bouchard while a backstretch altercation knocked a hood pin off Edwards' car and he stopped to get the hood removed relegating him to the back of the field as well. Then Edwards' car stalled on a lap six restart and he found himself in the pits and out of the race.
Through it all, pole sitter Kyle Maynard, coming off a hard crash last week, held the lead and took his third win of the season. Eddie Kilbury and Patrick Mennenga tangled on the final lap allowing Buchanan to charge up to second as the caution came out for Mennenga who had a flat tire.
Maynard held off Buchanan for the win while an upset Kilbury still claimed third spot. Pete Close, Jr., making his first start in Bryson Ryker's car, was fourth while Big John Smith came back from two early-race altercations to nab fifth spot.
Sportsman heats were won by Maynard and Dusty Bouchard.
A hard crash on lap two of the K-Country Street Stock feature saw Michael Mennenga take a tough shot into the turn four wall. Mennenga was not hurt but his car, as well as those driven by his brother Patrick Mennenga and Mike Fiddia were also eliminated from competition.
Pete Close, Jr., driving a car borrowed from point leader Tommy Roberts, led the first eleven laps until Roberts overhauled him and raced to his second consecutive win and sixth of the season.
Close, Jr. would hold on for second, but came up light on the scales moving Paul "Tweety Bird" Fletcher up to second in the final running order. David Chastain claimed third money ahead of "Zephyrhills" Paul Fletcher, while Mike Rosa turned around some recent bad luck with a nice fifth place finish.
The three Street Stock heats were won by Chastain, "Tweety" Fletcher, and A.J. Schreier.
Ric Fort continues to be the man to beat in the Four Cylinder Stocks as he won his third in a row and ninth of the season leading only the final lap of the race.
Young Kurtis Mitchell seems to finally be getting it all together as he led the opening three laps before Michael Stalnaker zipped past to take the top spot. Mitchell continued to hold off the pack for second until mechanical gremlins again struck his new car and he had to pit for adjustments.
Following a lap 18 incident that saw newcomer Brad Russell tag the backstretch wall to bring out a long caution for clean-up, Fort was poised and ready to attack Stalnaker.
As the white flag was unfurled, Fort ducked under Stalnaker going into turn one and led the lap that counted to the checker. Stalnaker held on to second while Rick Kuhn virtually wrapped up the second-half point title with a third place finish. Joel Byall and Harold Barup rounded out the top five.
Four Cylinder Stock heats were won by Stalnaker, Justin Durbin and Tom Ellis.
Jared Kessler crossed the line in first place for an apparent first victory in the V-8 Stocks, but an overheating car in victory lane cost him the win.
Track officials noticed antifreeze (not allowed in the rules) coming from Kessler's car and he was disqualified with second finishing Dan Tremblay being awarded the win, his second of the year.
Emmitt Bottoms was second with Jeremy Brown, Hall Robertson and Shelby Mather completing the top five.
RESULTS - OCALA SPEEDWAY - 10/24/03:
WIND FM MODIFIEDS (30 Laps):
1) Raymond Vann #99 2) David Baxley #64 3) John Gerstner #77 4) Mike Wilson #79 5) Alan McCafferty #32 6) John Foerg #1 7) Jason Garver #27 8) Bobby Valeo #8 9) Mark Emberson #34 10) Larry Goolsby #19 11) John Kahl #23 12) Chris Faddling #29 13) Tim Gamble #34B 14) Jeremy Gerstner #70 15) Wayne Kissam #7 16) Johnnie Newsome #31 DNS Danny Hill #15
DIAMOND H AIR & HEAT SPORTSMAN (20 Laps):
1) Kyle Maynard #27 2) Frank Buchanan #07 3) Eddie Kilbury #71 4) Pete Close, Jr. #48 5) Big John Smith #31 6) Charles Hornbeak #67 7) Tommy Brakeman #20 8) Jeremy Finegan #22 9) Jim Higginbotham #76 10) Patrick Mennenga #16 11) Dusty Bouchard #47 12) Tom Posavec #01 13) William Edwards #08 DNS Kyle Habig #06
K-COUNTRY STREET STOCKS (20 Laps):
1) Tommy Roberts #96 2) Paul Fletcher #94 3) David Chastain #17 4) Paul Fletcher #1 5) Mike Rosa #76 6) Mark Mitchell #71 7) Doug Webster #72 8) A.J. Schreier #98 9) Jay Morgan #55 10) Sid Mosbrucker #62 11) Dave Danielson #70 12) Rick Bass #39 13) Bobby Taylor #66 14) Patrick Mennenga #07 15) Mike Fiddia #41 16) Estle Morrow #02 17) Michael Mennenga #91 DQ Pete Close, Jr. #4T
FOUR CYLINDER STOCKS (20 Laps):
1) Rick Fort #2 2) Michael Stalnaker #8 3) Rick Kuhn #47 4) Joel Byall #40 5) Harold Barup #3 6) Steve Gallagher #39 7) Joey Durbin #5 8) Justin Durbin #33 9) Terry Dunbar #72 10) Kurtis Mitchell #00 11) Festus Barup #69 12) Steve Visneski #42 13) Tom Ellis #31 14) Brad Russell #17 15) Chris Noce #99 16) Mike Muroski #61 DNS Keith Briggs #09K DNS Steve Moulton #41
V-8 STOCKS (15 Laps):
1) Dan Tremblay #40 2) Emmitt Bottoms #96 3) Jeremy Brown #7 4) Hall Robertson #22 5) Shelby Mather #17 6) Laura Fletcher #21 DQ Jared Kessler #61