Larson captures FMSC Win at New Smyrna Speedway;Thornton Takes Championship!
by Rick Warren
Saturday night at New Smyrna Speedway. The Florida Governorís Cup to be run this night. The Atlantic Building Materials / Florida Mini Stock Challenge present in force run a 100 lap, season ending, champion crowning race.
The chilly weather did nothing to cool off the racing, as the battle for the Championship would come down to this last race. Robbie Storer, second place in the point chase, would need to finish at least 8 positions ahead of Point leader Chris Thornton to claim the championship. It was coming down to crunch time.
Qualifying showed some fast times for the 4 cylinder hot rods, with Ronnie Larson leading the way in the Jandy Pool Products entry, posting a time of 20.364 seconds. Right behind was Johnathon Camp, taking the Timís Tile entry to a time of 20.554 seconds. Third fastest was Robbie Yoakam, with Robbie Storer and Raymond Folwell rounding out the top ten.
After the pill draw for inversion, the starting line up was set, with the 34 of Steve Griffin on the pole position, and Raymond Folwell on the outside of the front row. The second row was filled by Dustin Perez and Ronnie Larson, followed by Robbie Yoakam, Johnathon Camp, Brian Dorer, Cody Blair, Rick Sirmans, and Jeff Barnes. Storer elected to roll the dice and start from the rear, hoping to claim the Hard Charger award, and garner a few extra points in his attempt to catch point leader Thornton.
The field was given extra laps behind the pace truck to bring the racers and tires up to temperature, due to the cold weather. When the racers rolled up to the green flag, Griffen shot to the early lead with Folwell and Larson right behind. Larson was able to get the advantage on Folwell, and moved quickly into second spot. Caution came out on lap 2 for a spin by the 18 of Joshua Intoppa, and after a quick inspection of the track surface, the field was reset for the restart, with Griffin, Larson, Folwell, Yoakam and Perez holding the top 5 spots. The field took the green, and Larson wasted little time, driving by Griffin for the lead on lap 4. The racing for the top ten spots was very close, with the racers running like this was a dash, not a 100 lap race. Caution again came out on lap 10, as the 81 of Cody Blair had engine troubles, and had a fire under the hood. The fire was quickly extinguished, and Blair exited the car un-injured. The field was re-lined, and came to the green flag with Larson still out front, being followed by Griffin, Yoakam, Folwell and Perez in the top 5.
As the racers started to settle in to race for the long distance finish, Thornton, in a back-up car, was working hard to gain positions, while Storer was making steady progress through the field. Lap 23 saw Yoakam move into second place and begin the task of chasing down the leader. By Lap 25 Storer had moved into the top ten, still in his chase for the point lead.
Lap 49 had caution again displayed, for a minor spin. The pace truck led the field down pit road on lap 50 for a mandatory pit stop for fuel. The running order for the restart had Larson continuing to lead, followed by Yoakam, Rick Sirmans, Folwell and Perez. A short caution on lap 56 kept the leaders bunched up, with the top 5 being Larson, Yoakam, Sirmans, Folwell, and Storer. On the restart, Yoakam made a big run at Larson for the lead, trying inside and outside, looking for a way around the leader. Larson, however, maintained a good line, and was able to eventually fend off the determined charges of Yoakam. It appeared that Larsonís car would get better on the long runs, and as the field stretched out, so did Larsons lead.
Lap 66 saw another caution on the speedway, as the cars of Storer and Thornton made contact exiting turn 2, with Thornton spinning. The restart had Larson in front, with Yoakam reloading for another run at the leader. Sirmans, Folwell, and Camp rounded out the top 5. As the race wound down, Camp made some good moves, and drove by Folwell and Sirmans to take third place, and start to chase Yoakam for second. The race ended with Larson taking the win, followed by Yoakam, Camp, Sirmans, and Jeff Barnes.
The action on the track was over, but not the excitement. As the top 5 cars went through post race tech inspection, the cars of Yoakam, Camp, and Barnes were disqualified for cylinder head infractions. This changed the finishing order back through the field, but not enough to keep Chris Thornton from claiming the Series Championship for 2006.
Congratulations to all the Thornton team for an outstanding season in the Gulf to Bay Enterprises entry.
Final Results. New Smyrna Speedway. Nov. 18, 2006 100 laps
Fast Qualifier Ronnie Larson Hard Charger Robbie Storer Most Laps Led Ronnie Larson
1 61 Ronnie Larson M Clearwater, FL 2 05 Rick Sirmans M Pinellas Park, FL 3 03 Raymond Folwell M St. Petersburg, FL 4 9 Robbie Storer M Zephyrhills, FL 5 0 Dustin Perez M Tampa, FL 6 32 Chris Thornton M Clearwater, FL 7 97 Brian Dorer Winter Haven, FL 8 21X Scott Reeves Royal Palm Bch, FL 9 70 Marty Neikens M Clearwater, FL 10 98 James Ellis Brooksville, FL 11 2 Dustin Deschamps Brooksville, FL 12 81X Billy Chancy Kathleen, GA 13 11X Mary Green M Clearwater, FL 14 V3 Rex Christensen M Port Orange, FL 15 40 Dennis Valdez M Tampa, FL 16 3 Jay Zolciak St. Petersburg, FL 17 34 Steve Griffin Inverness, FL 18 18 Joshua Intoppa West Palm Bch, FL 19 11 Charlie Brown Lakeland, FL 20 81 Cody Blair M Winter Park, FL 21 23 Jesse Henley Homosassa, FL 22 91 Jason Rendell Lakeland, FL 23 9X Clint Foley Dunnellon, FL DQ 8 Robbie Yoakam M Hernando, FL DQ 13 Johnathon Camp Beverly Hills, FL DQ 5 Jeff Barnes M Largo, FL DNS 99 Jamie Kennedy Lakeland, FL