Seven Championships decided at Citrus Saturday in Season Finale
by Larry MacMillan
Seven divisions wrapped up their 2006 season at Citrus County Speedway Saturday night and many of the division championships were up for grabs.
Twenty eight TBARA Winged Sprint cars came off a night at Ocala Speedway Friday night to end their season where it started back in February at Citrus County Speedway. Heat wins went to Steven Bradley, Richard Waddell and Keith Butler. Charles Ladner won the B Main to qualify the final 7 cars going into the 24 car feature.
When the green flew for their 30 lap main event 19,000 horse power roared off the line with Steven Bradley coming off the out side pole to set a hot pace while the rest of the hot shoes worked to move through traffic. It didnt take long for the front runners to catch the tail end of the field and thread there way through the slower traffic. Thirteen cars finished in the lead lap and spent all but the last 2 laps chasing Bradley to the checkers.
Eleventh starter David Steele made the pass taking his 7th win of the season on the final run for the flag with Bradley having to settle for second. Troy DeCaire, Shane Butler, Stan Butler, Keith Butler, Dude Teate, Rookie of the Year Michael Smith, Richard Waddell and Gary Gimmler rounded out the top ten. Bo Hartley came into the race with the point lead and finished 13th at the end of the lead lap.
Locally the Open Wheel Modifieds came into their final race of the season with Kyle Bookmiller having to really work to hold onto his 17 point lead on Teddy Nelson and Billy Bechtelheimer just 20 points out of a lead that he held for most of the season. Heat Winners were Chris Wentworth and Steve Perez but it was Curtis Neumann that was the man to beat coming out of his third starting spot and setting the pace from flag to flag for his 3rd win of the season. Steve Perez worked his way from fifth to second at the checkered flag with Nelson moving from his 16th starting spot and using the outside groove to finish in a solid third. Pole sitter Stephen Harbuck held out for a fourth place finish over Adam May. Kyle Bookmiller finished sixth right where he started and won the 2006 Championship by 17 points over Teddy Nelson.
Another race that was up for grabs was the Sportsman championship with Tom Posavec coming in with a 19 point lead over Jim Altobelli. Altobelli was on a mission to regain the lead he held most of the season until last week when he had a bad finish. That put him on the inside of row two for the start of their 20 lap main event and Posavec back in 16th after last weeks win. Altobelli went to the front early and battled with Phillip Rook for several laps before taking the lead. Meanwhile Posavec got turned around three times during the race. When the checkers flew, Altobelli took the win and the 2006 Championship by just 3 points after a 2nd place finish in his heat and the win while Tom finished 5th in the heat and 10th in the feature. Rounding out the top five were Phillip Rook who also won the first heat, Ernie Reed, Craig Robinson who won the second heat and Bobby Taylor.
George Neumann made sure he had a lock on his 4th Mini Stock Championship with a third place finish Saturday night. The spot that was up for grabs was second and Clint Foley was on a mission taking a win in his heat and out running the 15 car field for his 5th feature win of the season to slip by Johnathon Camp by 13 points who had to borrow a ride from Kevin Harrod to finish out the season. Phillip Joyner finished second in the feature followed by Neumann, Joe Irwin and Mike Lawhorn. Don Faunce won the first heat.
Bobby Taylor was a long shot to take the Hobby Stock Crown away from John Makula but he gave it a shot by winning his heat race and after not being able to race last week due to brakes going out on him he shot off the outside pole and set the pace all the way to the checkered flag. Despite the win and a 15th place finish by Makula, he fell 13 points short of imporving his position but he did hold off Curtis Flanagan from taking second away from him. Michael Stallnaker locked on to second in the 20 lap main followed by Jay Witfoth, Curtis Flanagan and Stephen Anderson in a borrowed ride. Flanagan won the second heat.
Tim Wilson came into the Thunder Stock finale with a 34 point lead and almost saw the Championship fade away with Louie Coie in hot pursuit and Tim having a rough night with several drivers determined to keep him from finishing the race. He survived none the less and took his first Championship with a 17 point lead over Coie. Jason VanOchten came off the pole and took his first career feature over Randy Spicer, Mike Dubbs, Louie Cioe and Gary Johnson and a 24 car field. There were four cars that were wearing illegal tires that would have closed the gap for the championship further had they been allowed their true finishing spots. Heat winners were VanOchten, Kristine Henick and Wilson.
The Florida Mini Cup series wrapped up their 2006 season with the Junior All Stars point leader Ray Black Jr. winning his final race of the season. He will be moving up in 2007 racing ASA and the Goodyear Late Model Challenge Series. Doug Smith locked down his All Pro Mini Cup Championship showing the 12 car field the way to Victory Lane in their season finale. Brett Jameson gave him a run for his money but had to settle for second in the see saw battle in the double points race.
Twelve ladies took their significant others race cars for the annual Powder Puff 10 lap finale for the night. All the drivers breathed a sigh of relief as Stacey Pittsley took her Mini Stock to the Winners Circle and none of the ladies wrecked their cars which is a first for this race.
It isnt over yet at the Action Attraction as drivers and fans get ready for Winter Spectacular IV on December 2nd featuring Open Wheel Modifieds in Twin 50s, Limited Sportsmen in a 50 lap main, Thunder Stocks turn it on for 50 laps and the Outlaw Modifieds come to visit for the final race of 2006. Eighty drivers will be honored at the Annual Awards Banquet on Friday, December 15th at the Citrus County Auditorium. Tickets are on sale at the Pit Office through December 2nd.