MELVIN EARNS POLE FOR NeSMITH CHEVROLET WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP RACE AT EAST BAY
TAMPA, FL- Rodney Melvin of Benton, IL drove his Thomason Enngines Rayburn to fast time honors, and then won the first of six 15-lap heat races on Friday night to earn the pole position for Saturday night’s NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series 100-lap $10,000-to-win 4th Annual World Championship Race at East Bay Raceway Park.
Melvin out-qualified the 63-car field on Friday night with a lap around the 1/3-mille clay oval in 16.079 seconds to earn the pole for the first heat race. Melvin then won the first heat to take the inside front row starting spot for the big show on Saturday night.
Stacey Roberts of Sylvester, GA won the second heat race on Friday night in the Sunbelt Ford Rocket to earn the outside front row starting spot for the Saturday night main event. Shanon Buckingham of Morristown, TN won the third heat race in the Rusty Wallace Toyota Bloomquist to start the Saturday night feature race from the inside of the second row.
Anthony White of Clinton, TN will start the Saturday night 100-lapper from the outside of the second row after winning the fourth heat race on Friday night in the Stone Plus DWB. The 2006 race winner Randy Korte of Highland, IL will try for his second World Championship Race win from the fifth starting hole after he won the fifth heat race on Friday night driving the Terry Eaglin Motorsports Rocket.
Local favorite Phillip Cobb of Riverview, FL won the sixth heat race on Friday night to earn the outside third row starting spot for Saturday night’s main event driving the Coastal Trucking GRT.
The top three finishers in each of the six heat races on Friday night transferred into the top 18 starting spots for the main event on Saturday night. Ross Bailes of Blacksburg, SC in the Felony Farms Mastersbilt and Tim McCreadie of Waterloo, NY followed Melvin out of the first heat and into the main event.
Josh Peacock of Dover, FL in the Peacock Farms Warrior and Bryan Bernhardt of Clearwater, FL in the B&B Precision Movers Rocket finished second and third respectively in the second heat race behind Roberts to make the main event.
Larry Boutwell of Baker, FL in the McLeod Construction Rocket finished second in the third heat race followed by Jeff Fields of Aragon, GA in the J&J Transport Mastersbilt. Joining White in transferring from the fourth heat race were second-place Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, IL in the Thomason Engines Rayburn, and third-place Jeff Fortner of Vidalia, GA in the Extreme Hauling Rocket.
Two-time NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Champion David Gentry of Lewisburg, TN in the Payne’s Body Shop Mastersbilt and Jeff Mathews of Seffner, FL in the Vassar Cord Warrior followed Korte under the checkered flag in the fifth heat race to make the big show.
Matthew Turner of Dawsonville, GA in the Turner Excavating DWB and Wallace Peacock of Dover, FL in the Strawberry Garden TNT finished second and third respectively in the sixth heat behind Cobb on Friday night to take a seat in the starting field of the World Championship Race on Saturday night.
Drivers that finished fourth on back in the six heat races will another opportunity to make the 26-car starting field for the World Championship Race in one of two 20-lap B-Main Races to take place on Saturday night before the 100-lap big show. The top three finishers in each B-Main will take the 19th through 24th starting spot in the main event.
Starting spots 25 and 26 are NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series provisional spots reserved for the Top 15 in the 2008 National point standings. Among the Top 15 still on the outside looking in are the 2008 NeSmith Chevrolet DLMS National Champion Chip Brindle of Chatsworth, GA, and the Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Year and third place points driver Scott Knowles of Lanett, AL.
Other Top 15 drivers starting the B-Mains on Saturday night are fourth-place Derrick Rainey of Powder Springs, GA, sixth-place Hunter Peacock of Macon, GA, seventh-place Eric Cooley of Fulton, MS, and tenth-place Frank Ingram of Woodstock, GA.
On Saturday night, gates open at 4 p.m. with racing scheduled for 7 p.m. For more information, call East Bay Raceway Park at 813-677-7223, or visit the track web site at www.eastbayracewaypark.com. East Bay Raceway Park is located five miles south of I-4 off U.S. Highway 41.