TIME TO RACE!!
Tyler Laing Dominates Charity Truckers 200 at Orlando SpeedWorld
|b>by Dave Westerman
Despite a scheduling change due to weather, the 4th Annual Charity Truckers 200 proved to be a big success with quite a showcase performance by young driver Tyler Laing.
The event, co-sponsored by Fountain Motorsports Driver Development and Biscayne Roofing, benefited three familes this year. The Whaley family was in attendance along with the family of 12 year old Keith Purvis who gave the command to start engines. Joey Sciacca and his family were unable to be at the race as the young man is currently in the hospital battling for his life following a bone marrow transplant.
Laing got things started off on a very cold Saturday evening by setting quick time of 14.844 seconds while second quick Michael Pilla tripped the clock second fast at 14.961 with Steven Darvalics, Anthony Sergi and Nick Hernandez rounding out the top five in time trials. Laing picked up an extra $100 from MJS Concrete for setting the fast lap.
The re-draw among the top qualifiers saw Norm Agostinho pick the pole position with Lance Daubach getting the outside pole slot. Laing started the 200 lapper in fourth.
After pre-race ceremonies, the race got going under overcast but comfortable weather conditions Sunday afternoon. Pole sitter Agostinho immediately started having some handling issues and got tapped into a spin on the back stretch. Despite riding along the wall a considerable distance, Agostinho's truck had nothing more than a flat tire and some body damage. He was able to re-enter the race before the restart.
As the race finally got going, it was Nick Hernandez moving to the point with Daubach and Laing shadowing his every move. The race ran under green to lap 23 before Agostinho tangled with Bobby Owens to bring out the first caution of the race. Both were able to continue.
Laing was now on the charge and a great battle began to race between Hernandez and Laing before Laing was able to assert himself at the point. Charlie Montgomery tried to follow Laing but Hernandez shut the door and the two tangled bringing out the yellow flag and sending both to the rear of the restart line-up.
Laing quickly built up a big advantage and was opening up a full straightaway lead before Jerry Maxon's truck erupted in flames coming down the front stretch on lap 46. Maxon drove his machine into the infield off turn one and the fire was quickly extinguished although he was now out of the race.
Laing continued to lead at will under green and was not slowed again until lap 73 when the caution was displayed to get Michael Pilla's smoking truck off the racing surface. On the restart, Whitney Poole's machine stalled in turn three to keep the yellow out awhile longer.
Steven Darvalics had now moved to second but it was clear he did not have the speed to catch Laing. Hernandez and Chris Huntoon tangled on the front stretch on lap 91 for the fifth caution. With the race nearing the 100 lap half-way break and already under yellow, the trucks were stopped at lap 97 to allow crews to re-fuel, change two tires and make minor adjustments. The order at mid-race found Laing leading Darvalics, Daubach, Brent Huber, Anthony Sergi, J.R. Garcia, Chad Pierce, Doug Samion and Tim Sozio.
The second 100 laps were very tame and totally dominated by Laing. Caution flew on lap 129 for a tangle between Agostinho and Samion. Bobby Owens spun on the restart to keep the yellow out.
From that point there was plenty of green flag racing with Laing having no trouble out front. Daubach passed Darvalics for second on lap 171 but his truck was now starting to trail smoke and it was clear he was dropping fluid on the track which eventually led to a spin by Sergi and a caution flag on lap 179. Daubach retired from the race while Sergi was given his spot back in the restart line-up.
A lap 186 spin by Agostinho for the final caution was the only thing to slow Laing's pace as he sped to an easy victory. The young driver was very calm in the winner's circle thanking all of his sponsors and especially his mom and dad.
Darvalics, last years winner, was second trailed by a very happy Huber who took third spot. Sergi held on for fourth while Chad Pierce claimed fifth. Hernandez battled back for sixth with Chris Huntoon, Doug Samion (who started dead last), J.R. Garcia and Mike Powers rounding out the top ten.
Tim Sozio, Agostinho, Scott Reeves, Derrick Reeves, Daubach, Owens, Andy Leserra, Whitney Poole, Michael Pilla, Charlie Montgomery, Zachary Curtis, Jerry Maxon and Blake Koch completed the finishing field.
After setting fast time, Gerald White, Jr. led all 30 laps of the Legend Car feature although he was hounded all the way by Darin Coker. Ted Ruffo was unhurt after a hard crash early in the race that knocked the right front wheel and tire off his racer.
White claimed the win over Coker and Devin McLeod. Alex Kempf was fourth and Mason Ketterman fifth. Rounding out the finishers were Dave Gleason, Rick Wetmore, Eric Eichelberger, Critter Saile, John Inman, Tim Walters, Jr., Carl Haag, Roger Englund, Jim Rix and Ruffo.
The Champ Karts put on an outstanding race for 25 laps with plenty of drafting and lead changes before Tim Simmons took the point on the final lap to score the victory in tight formation over Chase Fitzgerald, Dustin Chisholm, P.J. Letourneau and Saturday night winner Tara Henderson. Caralyn Brown, Darren Coker, Ronald Letourneau, Joey Coxum and Eric Garex completed the top ten with Billy Smith, Paul Letourneau, Phil Harp, Ryan Walters, Scott Hailey, Dennis Mace, Kenner Brown III, Mitch Stevens and David Harp the remaining finishers.
Winner Simmons and Friday winner Henderson both donated $80 of their winnings back to the families while the Champ Kart club donated a total of $245 back.
Danielle Stratton won the Bandolero feature ahead of Shawn Hooven, Cameron White and Mark Hooven.
On Saturday night, New Smyrna Speedway regular Scott Smith won the Super Stock feature then donated all his winnings to the families. The top four Strictly Stock finishers were disqualified handing the win to the Ford Probe of Neal Kirby who also donated half his winnings to the families.
A nice group of vintage racers from the Daytona Antique Auto Racing Association were also on hand to run some exhibitions Friday night. Bill McPeek and Ron Hess stayed over on Sunday and displayed their vintage Modified cars behind the grandstands.
Saturday's Race Report 12/04/09
The Charity Truckers weekend kicked off on Saturday night at Orlando Speedway by putting the bad weather behind it and ending the track’s season on a high note with plenty of racing action and a great variety of cars and divisions on show for the fans in the stands.
Despite the horrendous rain that had blighted the Orlando area for the preceding few days the track was in perfect condition for the night’s racing, and the weekend’s events were led off by the always-popular DAARA antique racecars. First up came a couple of antique sprint cars that perfectly demonstrated the advances made in car design over the year by representing two different eras of race-cars, with the newer #9 of Dave Jarrett finishing well ahead in what soon turned into an exhibition race.
Much more action in the next race as the 6 cylinder and flathead cars made their way out onto the track. It didn’t take long for the action to heat up as the #98 of J.T. Dunn lost control coming down the front straight, spinning out onto the wet grass of the infield in turn 1. With little or no control over the car he slid at speed across the turf missing the two large metal dumpsters in the middle of the track by inches before regaining control in time to plow through a large puddle, sending plumes of muddy water up into the air from his rear tires before rejoining the track having thankfully avoided a considerable repair job. The tire marks still visible on the infield the next day showed just how narrowly Dunn had avoided a costly disaster!
The race soon restarted and settled down into a shoot-out between the #96 of Gordie Wood and the #A1 of Shirley Morden who ran for several laps side-by-side in a battle for the lead. As the laps counted down the leaders began to hit lapped traffic and the #98 of Dunn was again at the center of the action as he found himself in the middle of the track as the leaders attempted to pass him. Hooking wheels with the #96 high in turn 3 it was Dunn who came off worse as his car bounced up into the air and crashed back down with enough force to damage his rear axle, leaving him needing a tow off the track. Thankfully both of the lead cars were able to resume their battle once the wreckers had left the scene, and they raced to a thrilling conclusion with Morden’s #A1 taking the checkered flag by inches after making a last ditch dive for the lead coming off turn 4.
The final race for the DAARA cars saw a fine group of antique racers take to the track for another battle that saw #71 Bill Wendt and #93 Frank Lenhart battling for the lead throughout the race. Yet again these cars of yesteryear proved good value for the fans as their race again went down to the final lap, this time with Lenhart just holding off Wendt’s vintage green Camaro on the line in a photo-finish.
From the big, vintage lumps of iron that had started the show the action moved on to vehicles at the other end of the racing spectrum as a field of 30 Champ Karts made their way onto the track. Spectators who’d made their way to the track early enough to see the heat races for this division knew that the fans were in for a treat, and so it proved as the tiny karts put on quite a show in their first feature of the weekend. With a racing style and set of tactics all of their own, the karts soon broke up into smaller groups, seeing #44 Tara Henderson making the early break into the lead, but soon watching helplessly as a group of karts, all lined up in a long draft to give them extra speed, sailed past and relegated her to 6th place.
The first caution of the race came with 8 laps down after hard contact at the rear of the field left #79 Vincent Crawford needing attention from the track staff before being allowed to leave for the pits, but the stoppage on the track just allowed the fans and track staff alike to look across and watch the launch of a Delta rocket heading up into the darkness to deliver its payload into orbit!
The restart saw #16 Paul Letourneau get out to the front of the lead group and hold his place despite the karts beginning to jostle for position, going 3 or even 4 wide around the track as they looked for willing colleagues to form a draft with. Letourneau was able to hold his lead all the way up to the white flag signaling the last lap of the race. At this point the race became an all-out sprint for the finish, and the crowd were on their feet as the lead cars spread all across the track, allowing #44 Henderson to take the lead entering turn 1 and hold on in a mad dash for the checkered flag with the 2nd placed #73 Chad Dokken.
A more familiar sight for the fans as the Super Stocks took to the track next for another 50 lapper, bringing with them a good mix of both Orlando and New Smyrna regulars, including plenty of the front-running cars from this season at both tracks. Right from the start the red #16D of David Gould was out in front, but behind him the #56 of Bobby Holley and the #16 of David Russell were making early moves to get past the slower cars. This group were soon joined by the #01 of Scott Smith before the first caution of the night came out for a spin by #54 Bobby Cuddy, out on the track in a new car that must surely be getting sprayed with the trademark orange Team Cuddy paintjob in the off-season. Cuddy would immediately retire with mechanical issues and the green flag soon waved to restart the race, putting Gould and Holley together up front, running door-to-door for several laps before Holley was able to pull clear leaving Gould to worry about Smith closing him down quickly in his rear-view mirror.
Smith was now all over the back of Gould as Holley pulled away at the front, and was able to use the back-markers to make a move as he blocked Gould behind the #316 of Joe Bandur, leaving Gould no choice but to back off and allow Smith to pull past on the outside and move away. The caution flag was soon out again after an excursion onto the infield grass by #21 Mike Dahm demonstrated why wet grass and slick tires are not a good combination, Dahm eventually making his was back onto the track thanks to a hefty shove from several of the track staff. The restarted race lasted just two laps as the two leaders, long-time division rivals over at New Smyrna, let their racing get a little too close with contact by Smith to the rear of Holley’s car coming out of turn 2 seeing the #56 spin out, sending both cars to the rear of the field for the next restart.
These antics meant that Gould was back up at the front of the race now, with just the length of a regular feature race left to run. Gould was quickly pulling away a lead as Holley and Smith began the task of working their way back through the field, but his evening was soon to end – entering turn 3 a major mechanical issue saw smoke begin to billow from the exhaust pipe down the side of the #16D, covering the entire track in a shroud of smoke, and seeing Gould’s race over for the night.
That left the rest of the race a straight-out duel between Holley and Smith, and both drivers took their turn at the front, but neither was able to get a definitive lead over the other. Another caution for a spinout by the erratic #388, narrowly avoided by the two leaders who were lapping him at the time, put the two fastest cars back together for one last green flag run, and this time Smith was able to get ahead and stay ahead, despite Holley trying everything he could and pushing hard enough to get out of shape plenty of times in the turns. Smith would take the checkered flag ahead of Holley, with the #388 ending the race in style by spinning out to cross the finish line and see the rest of the cars end their race in a big cloud of tire smoke.
Just one more race to go and it was the turn of the Strictly Stocks to take the track, again mixing up the Orlando regulars with several of the cars only usually seen over at New Smyrna. From the off it was one of the Orlando specialists, #8 Neil Kirby, who leapt away into the lead, with William Hindman’s #89x and Chuck Hill’s #95 leading the chasing group behind him. Hill would soon make it past Hindman, running his car back in the Strictly Stock division after recently taking it into both Super Stock and even Enduro division, and would begin to reel in Kirby’s Ford Probe, getting past him to take possession of the lead with 10 laps gone.
A caution for a spin out in turn 3 that resulted from contact between #0 Bill Loomis and #21 Maureen Dahm bunched the cars back together and saw Kirby the big loser at the restart as both Hill and Hindman muscled their way to the front and the #8 dropped all the way back to 6th place. The leaders would soon be joined by #60 Darren Gould who wasted no time in catching and passing Hindman to begin his pursuit of Hill. Hindman would soon find the Camaro of Loomis on his tail, giving a second battle for the spectators to keep an eye on as the race progressed.
The lead group was now settled and they began to rattle off laps with small gains and losses on each trip around the track but with no-one getting close enough to make a move. The checkered flag would be taken by Hill ahead of Gould, Loomis and Hindman, although the ultimate winner would turn out to be Kirby, who proved to be the first car to pass the post-race tech inspection despite finishing 5th out on the track.
And so the first night of the Charity Truckers weekend ended, just a day overdue, with plenty of good racing out on the track, and the prospect of a great truck race on its way for the fans who would make the rare Sunday afternoon trip back out to Orlando Speedworld the following day.
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