GEORGE GORHAM, JR. GOES FLAG TO FLAG IN CHARITY TRUCKERS 200 AT ORLANDO SPEEDWORLD
By Dave Westerman
George Gorham earned the pole on Friday and made it pay off on Saturday night. Rick Bristol is at left.
Mother Nature tried her best to ruin what started out as a very pleasant evening as drivers, crews and fans had to wait out several pesky rain showers before action could get under way for the second annual Charity Truckers 200 presented by Biscayne Roofing at Orlando Speedworld Saturday night.
This year the event was run to benefit the family of 14 month old Kayleigh Helmick, who suffers from a heart ailment. Young Tommy Hopkins, who the race benefited last year, was on hand as well and he and his family shared their joy in the fact that their son is now completely free of the life-threatening disease that nearly claimed his life.
Thirty-six trucks signed in to do battle but that number would be reduced by four before Friday's time trials could get started. Transmission woes ko'd the truck of Chad Pierce, Austin Pickens blew his engine, while a broken rear end sidelined 2007 FASCAR Advance Auto Parts Pro Truck champion Scott Reeves. Michael Cenzi had a hard crash during the final practice session and was done for the weekend.
Top honors in qualifying and a $100 award from Dennis & Dennis, Inc. went to George Gorham, Jr. who tripped the clocks at 15.181 seconds which was just a tick of the watch faster than Keith Lilley's 15.186 second lap. James Glover was third quick followed by Travis Hanson and defending race winner Brandon Johnson.
The 32 truck field started the 200 lap event straight up from qualifying with Gorham grabbing the quick advantage. Debris in turn one brought out the first caution flag on lap six. Seven more laps were run before the machines of Mario Romay and Brady Demeree tangled hard in turn four. Only Demeree could continue.
Gorham continued to set the pace but the race could not really get a rhythm going as caution flags flew for minor spins on laps 34 and 43. On lap 55, Andy Megronigle and Big Al Neuman tangled on the front stretch while trying to lap a slower truck. Both stayed in the race with minor damage.
The field continued to race rather cautiously, especially among the top ten although there would still be three more yellow flag periods before the race would be red-flagged for the half-way fuel stop at lap 100. The top ten at mid race were Gorham, Lilley, Hanson, Glover, Jessica Murphy, Johnson, Barry Bartlett III, Gary Foxworth, Brent Huber and John Kidwell.
After the 15 minute break for re-fueling and minor adjustments, it was Gorham setting sail again. the next caution came out on lap 112 as Patrick Staropoli spun on the front stretch. His truck was leaking water and he dropped from the event.
Lilley was able to stay a bit closer to Gorham after the restart, but again, only a handful of laps could be completed before debris in turn three brought out the caution on lap 128. Fifteen more laps would be run before Tyler Laing spun in turn one to bring out the 12th yellow flag of the race. Then on the restart, Austin Howell and Brent Huber tangled coming off turn four.
Yet another try at restarting the race was for naught as the lapped truck of Jessica Green spun in turn one in front of most of the field. Fortunately everyone missed her but the yellow remained out.
Gorham again sped away from the field as the green finally came out, but only until lap 167 as Demeree and Kyle Musselman tangled in turn two. Then another turn two tangle between Austin Howell and Ross Chastain kept the caution out.
Two more laps were put in the books before Demeree spun on the back stretch for caution number 14. Gorham contued to set the pace as yellow flag number 15 came out on lap 189 for John Kidwell's turn one spin. Then it was a tangle between Mike Powers and Dustin Henderson keeping the caution out.
The field restarted with just three laps to go and no one was going to catch Gorham. The Lakeland driver crossed the stripe four car lengths in front of Lilley, Hanson, Glover and Johnson. In victory lane, Gorham thanked his crew and the fans for coming out despite the less than stellar weather forecast.
Jessica Murphy came home in sixth with Bartlett III, Kidwell, Huber and Ricky Moxley rounding out the top ten. Completing the finishing field were Jason Vail, Gary Foxworth, Mike Powers, Dustin Henderson, Andy Megronigle, Austin Howell, Kyle Musselman, Ross Chastain, Gerald Maxson, T.J. Duke, Jessica Green, Phil Luizzo, Blake Koch, Brady Demeree, Tyler Laing, Patrick Staropoli, Michael Pilla, Al Neuman, Tommy King, Tate Lindsay, Donnie Nerone and Mario Romay.
Gorham also took home some extra loot as well earning the Foxworth Travel/Alli Owens Racing Half-way Leader Bonus of $100 plus another $100 from Christopher's Conquerers for the fastest lap of the race. Gerald Maxson won the $100 Prosperity Banks/J Lowe Racing Hard Charger award while the Endzone Motorsports/J Lowe Racing Hard Luck award of $100 went to Patrick Staropoli. Stewart Title Guarantee Company also awarded $100 to Jessica Murphy for the "Cool Move of the Race" and another $100 to Maxson for the "Lucky Dog Award." Other bonuses were awarded by Murphy Motorsports, Racecar Engineering and Speedpark Daytona.
Kory Abbott set quick time for the RaceCeiver Legend Car feature but opted to start at the rear of the field along with his teammate Chad Pierce. Second fast in time trials was Shaughn McCormick, but he failed to take his car to tech and he too started from the back of the grid.
Alex Kempf thus inherited the pole position and he made the most of it taking a wire to wire win. Abbott had moved to fifth spot by the time caution flew for Dallas Ingram's wall smacker on the back stretch, but he dropped out during the yellow flag period.
Shaughn McCormick had spun to bring out the first caution of the race, but he stormed back to end up in a photo finish for second with Texan Bryce Walker. Walker got the nod by just two inches as McCormick took third. Rick Wetmore was fourth and Gary Verdier fifth. Completing the top ten were Dalton Bergman, Mason Ketterman, Dave Gleason, Dave Simile and Charlie O'Melia. Rounding out the finishers were Tony Bonavia, Mark Bibeau, Chad Pierce, Abbott, Ingram, Ted Ruffo and Roger Englund.
In Friday night racing action, the $500 Webb's Commercial Services winner-take-all Strictly Stock 30 lap feature went to Todd McCreary who came from twentieth spot on the starting grid to the lead by mid race. Todd's dad Ron McCreary was second followed by Jim Erb, Glen Rhodes and early leader Devon Cuddy Rounding out the top ten were David Leeper II, Rob Reynolds, Neal Kirby, William Hindman and Bruce Gayton.
The Mini Cup practice session was marred by a frightening crash involving Don Mays. Something broke Mays' car and it shot head-on into the turn four wall. Mays was airlifted to the hospital but released later in the evening suffering only a broken wrist.
The Mini Cup feature race saw Jason Schroeder take the lead near half way and run away with the victory. Jerry Parker was a distant second trailed by Frank Pfister, Steve Irish, James Irish, Flint Anderson and Heather Suggs.
The DeSoto Champ Carts put on an outstanding race with the photo-finish end turning into a family affair as Jeff Leserra just held off Andy Leserra for the win. Third spot went to Alan McKinney ahead of Carl Whitehouse and Phil Harp. Completing the top ten finishers were Michael Nacosia, Buzz Swingle, John Combs, Danny Scopano and Mike Portman.
After leaders Scotty Williams and Phil Backins crashed while fighting for the lead, Eddie Grant took over and won the Daytona Antique Auto Racing Association Stock Car feature. Larry Larivee claimed the runner-up slot ahead of Jeff Yoder, Richie Iversen, Gordy Bird, Williams and Backins.
Jack Sapp took the DAARA Sprint car win over Kelly Jarrett, Jay Yahnke and Sue Yahnke.
Several teams and businesses made nice donations to the Helmick family including Leeper Racing, Todd McCreary Racing, Jimmy's automotive of Lakeland, C-3 Church of Orlando, Fast Times Productions, Jessica Green Racing, Demo Dave Berrer, Quilts By Kilroy, Lloyd Davis & Boss, Eric's Lawn Works, Glen Rhodes Racing and Brown's Public Notary.
OFFICIAL RESULTS ORLANDO SPEEDWOLRD CHARITY TRUCKERS 200 - DECEMBER 15, 2007
LEGENDS 35 LAPS
1. #99 Alex Kempf 2. #680 Bryce Walker 3. #34 Shaughn McCormick 4. #06 Rick Wetmore 5. #69 Gary Verdier 6. #37 Dalton Bergman 7. #22 Mason Ketterman 8. #07 Dave Gleason 9. #33 Dave Simile 10. #48 Charlie Omelia 11. #33x Tony Bonavia 12. #65 Mark Beebo 13. #57 Chad Pierce 14. #5 Kory Abbott 15, #133 Dallas Ingram
CHARITY TRUCKERS 200
1. #10X George Gorham, Jr. 2. #87L Keith Lilley 3. #141 Travis Hanson 4. #69 James Glover 5. #41 Brandon Johnson 6. #62 Jessica Murphy 7. #71 Barry Bartlett III 8. #7NY John Kidwell 9. #64 Brent Huber 10. #38 Ricky Moxley 11. #407 Jason Vail 12. #25 Gary Foxworth 13. 05 Mike Powers 14. #18 Dustin Henderson 15. #94 Andy Megronigle 16. #96 Austin Howell 17. #07 Kyle Musselman 18. #36C Ross Chastain 19. #15 Gerald Maxson 20. #28 T.J. Duke 21. #40 Jessica Green 22. #27 Phil Luizzo 23. #34 Blake Koch 24. #36D Brady Demeree 25. #39 Tyler Laing 26. #97 Patrick Staropoli 27. #24M Michael Pilla 28. #4 Al Neuman 29. #6 Tommy King 30. #1 Tate Lindsay 31. #17 Donnie Nerone 32. #53 Mario Romay
1. #10X George Gorham 2. #87 Keith Lilley 3. #69 James Glover 4. #141 Travis Hanson 5. #41 Brandon Johnson 6. #62 Jessica Murphy 7. #7NY John Kidwell 8. #71 Barry Bartlett III 9. #407 Jason Vailmm 10. #25 Gary Foxworth 11. #24M Michael Pilla 12. #64 Brent Huber 13. #96 Austin Howell 14. #36C Ross Chastain 15. #39 Tyler Laing 16. #38 Ricky Moxley 17. #97 Patrick Staropoli 18. #05 Mike Powers 19. #28 T.J. Duke 20. #07 Kyle Musselman 21. #1 Tate Lindsay 22. #53 Mario Romay 23. #27 Phil Luizzo 24. #15 Gerald Maxson 25. #36D Brady Demeree 26. #17 Donnie Nerone 27. #1x Scooter Bennett 28. #40 Jessica Green 29. #6 Tommy King 30. #94 Andy Megronigle 31. #18 Dustin Henderson 32. #34 Blake Koch