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Whitener Holds Off Nobles For Ocala Late Model Win

. Posted in Racing News

OCALA, FL- Another near perfect night of springtime Florida weather greeted the fans and racers at the historic Ocala Speedway on Friday night, as four divisions took their turns on the toughest 3/8ths mile in the southeast. And tough it was, because quite a few racers will have plenty of work to do over the next couple of weeks to get their machines back in shape for the next round of racing at Ocala. But despite many spins and quite a bit of contact, the racing was exciting and the fans got everything that they came for and more.

When Ocala's Mini Stock Division hit the clay Keith Briggs was watching from the turn one bleachers. Briggs had looked strong in winning his earlier heat race, but an oil pressure and overheating issue had the 19T parked in the pits for the feature race instead of on the track. Dan Kerr began from the pole and jumped out to an early lead, but Paul Combast took it from him on lap 4. And on the following lap a spin by Michael Ogelsby brought a caution, and on the restart Dan Kerr grabbed the lead back from Combast.

Paul Combast and Dan Kerr would tussle over the lead for a few laps before Nick Kerr joined the race up front and complicated things for Combast. But on lap 12 Combast would spin out in turn 4 and from there the Kerrs would fight side by side for the front spot as Johnny Zackery held the third position. Dan Kerr would get the win with Nick Kerr a close second, and Johnny Zackery would round out the top three. Mike Budka drove his new mini stock to a fourth place finish, while Paul Combast would settle for fifth.
With 30 Amsoil V8 Thunder Stocks in the pits it took four heat races and a B main to whittle the field down to 24 starters for the feature race. Eddie Lentz would recover from a nasty turn four accident in his heat race to win the B main, while Vaughn Woodall, Chris Watson, and Mike Tyre, transferred as well.

The 29 of Rick Montalvo sat on the pole for the feature race, but as the field entered turn 2 after the green flag the leaders simply muscled Montalvo aside and blasted past him, with Chris Fontaine grabbing the front spot. Michael Stalnaker has dominated the Amsoil Thunder Stocks so far this season, but he had started the race in the eighth spot and had to fight his way forward. Starting in the ninth spot was Augie Burttram who also was headed toward the front, and dragging Larry Welter Jr. with him. Welter had begun in the 18th starting position, and was determined to break into the top five.

Mike Stalnaker made his way past Chris Fontaine on lap 3 to steal the lead, and quickly distanced himself from the second place car. Fontaine did the same with the rest of the pack, opening up a nice spread of real estate between himself and Austin Kirkpatrick in third place. A spin in turn 4 would create another restart, and on that restart two more cars had contact and spun, causing yet another caution. And it was during this caution that the rear axle on Chris Fontaine's machine broke, causing him to limp into the pits on three wheels and abandon the second place spot.

With Fontaine gone it was up to Augie Burttram and Austin Kirkpatrick to catch Mike Stalnaker, but neither could get the job done. Stalnaker left both of them in his dust as he notched another win, with Burttram following in second place and Kirkpatrick finishing third. Larry Welter Jr. was the fourth place car while Ryan Lisak overcame some earlier misfortunes to grab the fifth spot.

Both Tyler Ivey and Ivedent Llloyd had much to contend with as the Late Models hit the track. While J.O. nobles started from the front and held the early lead, Lloyd was mired in the eighth starting spot while Ivey was in a deeper hole in the eleventh spot, but both put on a show using the outside line to quickly make their way into the top five. Meanwhile Christian Augspurger was using the bottom to his advantage until something went wrong and the 35 machine was knocked out of the race. Augspurger later said that he had no idea what happened, but the car simply took off across the track and hit the wall, ending his night.

Ivedent Lloyd continued using the outside line and finally slipped past J.O. Nobles on lap 12, but that brief lead was not to last. Something went wrong with the 21 car causinging Lloyd to shut it down and head for the pits, which passed the lead to Mark Whitener who had also found a route around Nobles. Whitener would hold onto his lead while Joe Kump and Richard Ferry would tangle at least twice, first in turn one, then finally ending up in a wad in turn 4 and causing a late race caution. Neither driver was pleased with the other, and once the wrecked cars were cleared from the track the dispute continued in the pit area.

What was not in dispute was Mark Whitener's lead, and he made sure to protect it through the final laps and earned the win. J.O. Nobles would have quite a fight on his hands as Tyler Ivey would attack him from the outside, but he managed to hold Ivey off and claim second place while Ivey was third. Phillip Cobb battled hard to climb his way from 10th to a fourth place finish, and Doodle Pipken scored a fifth place finish.

Last Friday night Casey Feaster went from celebrating in Victory Lane to dejectedly pushing his car back to his pit area after an unfortunate encounter with the tech officials discovered an illegal part on the 20 car. Feaster later said that he was embarrassed by the disqualification and that he thought that the part was allowed, and he also vowed to get another win and this time make sure that the car was within the rules. And when the Gladiators rolled onto the track to wrap up the night of racing, Feaster wasted no time in getting to the front, and then doing his best to stay there.

But Feaster's road to a win was not always easy. He fought a sputtering engine a coupe of times in turn four, and on one trip through the turn he all but spun out. Meanwhile Nathan Rhodes and Harold Lewis were both strong competitors, and they took turns making Feaster work hard for a win. But in the end Casey Feaster prevailed, and as one might expect the tech officials were waiting for him when he exited Victory Lane. This time the inspection turned up nothing, and as Feaster had promised, the win stood.

Harold Lewis and Nathan Rhodes put on quite a show themselves because when they were not harassing Casey Feaster they were harassing each other. Second place was in dispute for the majority of the race, and following Feaster across the line was Harold Lewis in the 48X machine. Nathan Rhodes settled for third place, while Devin Walker recovered from some encounters with traffic to claim the fourth spot. Rounding out the top five was the 96 car of Matt Shea.

Racing of a different kind will invade Ocala Speedway next Friday night as the annual Monster Jam Summer Tour date arrives at America's Dirt Track. Grave Digger will headline the list of the same Monster Trucks that we watch on TV as they use the huge infield at Ocala Speedway to race and to thrill the crowd with spectacular "freestyle" competitions! There will be four shows at Ocala Speedway over three days, with Friday Night opening the festivities, two shows on Saturday, and a Sunday matinee. For more information, please visit www.OcalaSpeedway.com!

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