An overflow crowd took advantage of a comfortably cool Florida night to witness the O'Reilly Auto Parts All Star Circuit of Champions and the Florida Mini Sprint Association attack the clay at the historic Ocala Speedway on Friday night, and they saw quite a show from both series. In the end, Danny Lasoski took the honors in Victory Lane for the All Stars, while Todd Carmichael traveled from Mooresville, North Carolina, to claim the Mini Sprint victory.
As early as qualifying it became apparent that Ocala Speedway was going to challenge the racers under a full moon, as the surface began to take rubber in the turns. Terry McCarl bested all qualifiers with a blistering 12.813, while Donny Schatz followed with a 12.863. Tim Kaeding, Paul McMahon, and Jason Meyers, rounded out the top qualifiers, all with times under 13 seconds.
Four heat races followed the qualifing session with Daryn Pittman, Chad Kemenah, Cody Darrah, and Greg Wilson, all earning victories. While those racers found success, notable entries like Tony Stewart Racing's Donny Schatz did not, setting up a competitive B main event for a final shot at making the field. Schatz dominated the B main from the pole, while Tim Kaeding, Paul McMahon, and Jason Meyers, followed to grab the final A main starting positions. Lance Dewease just missed the feature by finishing fifth.
Brad Sweet was the pole sitter for the main event, leading the O'Reilly All Stars to the green flag, but a tangle in turn two at the start would thin the field before a lap was completed. Contact would send Sam Hafertepe Jr. to the pits after a long trip from Sunnyvale, Texas. Donny Schatz lost the front wing off of his car, but continued to race despite handling issues due to reduced front downforce, and Greg Hodnett spun but continued, albeit from the rear of the field.
After a second attempt at a start saw another spin and a caution, things got racy until lap 16 when 17 year old David Gravel spun in turn 2, resulting in a caution. Meanwhile an opening lap pass had put Cale Conley into the leader's role, and he wasted no time in catching the back of the field and lapping cars. Behind him the battle was between Brad Sweet and Dale Blaney for the second spot, as Danny Lasoski crept up to the 6th position.
A now or never situation developed in the waning laps as Conley continued to lead and Brad Sweet wanted to make a pass. As the two charged into turn 3 on the final lap, Sweet went high while Conley attempted to hold him off. There was contact, and Conley's car was launched into a four flip crash that brought out the red flag and set up a green-white-checker dash to the finish. Both drivers were OK after the accident which left Danny Lasoski, who had been in third place, as the race leader.
The final dash to the checkers was won by Lasoski, who collected the $5000 check and enjoyed the party in Victory Lane. Tim Shaffer followed in second place while Dale Blaney finished third. Fred Raymer wound up with the fourth spot while Tim Kaeding rounded out the top five.
The Florida Mini Sprints thrilled the crowd with very competitive racing as an out-of-towner stole the show from the Florida crowd. A crash in the first heat race took out Justin Kolves of Deltona, Florida, as a spinning car in turn 4 left Kolves with nowhere to go. Kolves clipped the car in the turn and flipped, ending his night early.
Jody McKenzie of Orlando led from the pole in the feature race, but Eddie Moss Jr. passed him for the lead as soon as the green flag flew. Todd Carmichael in third was hot on McKenzie's trail in third, as those three dominated the race until Moss developed a problem around lap 15 with a leaking tire. Over the next two laps the tire lost pressure before exploding on lap 17, damaging the race car, and taking Moss out of the race.
Meanwhile Carmichael had slipped past McKenzie as Moss's problems developed, so he was the race leader when the green was displayed again and held on to claim the win. Tim O'Donnell sprinted into the top three in the final laps and took second, while Jessie Teed followed in third place. Brett O' Donnell claimed fourth place behind his father and Teed, and Steve Crabtree of Leesburg, Florida, rounded out the top five.
Racing is set to resume at Ocala Speedway on Saturday night with the grandstand open at 5PM and racing at 8PM, but inclement weather in the area has crews at the track watching the radar and working to determine if racing can be run. O'Reilly All Star and Ocala Speedway officials plan to watch the weather and make a decision on Saturday's events sometime after noon.