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Gardner Takes Two Out Of Three at Ocala

. Posted in Racing News

#71 Damion GardnerOCALA, FL-  For the third consecutive night, fans crowded into the historic Ocala Speedway to see white hot action from the USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series and the UMP Modifieds, as part of the Second Annual Bubba Army National Sprint Car Winter Games.  The night's races wrapped up the 2011 version of the Ocala speedway Winternationals, and also marked the end of only the second annual visit to Florida for the nation's top wingless sprint car series.  And before wrapping up the action on the oldest track in Florida, officials from USAC announced that an agreement has been reached for the USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series to return to Ocala in 2012.

The track crew at Ocala Speedway provided what turned out to be a near perfect surface for Saturday's races, and their efforts were verified when lap times in qualifying began dipping lower and lower still.  Tony Stewart Racing's Levi Jones set the fast time, driving a backup car that until that moment had never been on the clay.  Jones' blistered the clay with a new track record of 14.758 around the tricky circuit.

Heat racing saw Shane Cottle grab a win, plus Jerry Coons Jr, Kyle Robbins, and Steve Irwin, all registered heat race victories as more teams began figuring out how to deal with Ocala's reputation as the southeast's toughest 3/8ths mile.  The B main feature provided heated action as Chris Windom, Casey Riggs, Jon Stanbrough, and Casey Shuman, all transferred to the A main event.

The 30 lap feature race began with Blake Fitzpatrick and Damion Gardner up front, and those two racers dominated the early going by running one and two.  Gardner seemed extremely tough, and began building a lead as the leaders caught the rear of the field and began lapping traffic.  Meanwhile Fitzpatrick would slip high in turn 1 and allow Bryan Clauson to slip by for second place.  Clauson would get a shot at the lead by lap 8, but would not be able to make the move stick.

The first half of the feature ran caution free and lapped traffic was a factor for most of those 15 laps.  But at that point a tangle in turn four involved three cars, including Clauson and the lapped car of Steve Irwin, resulting in a slowdown that rebunched the field with Gardner in control. That caution also worked to the favor of Casey Riggs, who had used the outer perimeter of Ocala Speedway to slingshot his way forward through the field, placing him solidly in second place.  Fitzpatrick remained in the third spot as the race restarted.

With clear track in front of him for a few laps, Damion Gardner kicked in the afterburners and stretched his lead over Riggs, who a lap later had a little bobble that allowed Fitzpatrick to regain second place and Levi Jones to climb to third.  But no one had anything for Gardner, who grabbed his second win in three nights.  Blake Fitzpatrick got a second place finish for the second night in a row, while Levi Jones placed third in his backup machine.  Hunter Schuerenberg and Casey Shurman rounded out the top five.

#40B Kyle BronsonAs the UMP Modifieds took to the clay for their 20 lap feature, all eyes were on Devin Dixon and Jeff Mathews after their tangle and exit the previous night.  And while those two provided some heated moments in the race, the real show was watching Kyle Bronson take control of the event and absolutely dominate the field to seal a win.  Mike Spatola took a shot at his second Florida win, but Bronson would have none of that, forcing Spatola to settle for second place.  And Devin Dixon, who battled with Jeff Mathews briefly before the two were separated by other competitors, placed third on the night.  Kentucky's David McWilliams and California's Jeff Thomas finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Ocala Speedway will be idle for racing in the coming week, as our local competitors go through last minute preparations for yet another exciting season at America's Dirt Track.  An open practice session for all divisions will be held this Saturday, February 26th, with the pit gate open at 12 noon and practice by division from 1PM until 4PM.  Admission will be $15 per person with kids 12 and under admitted free of charge, and spectators are welcome to attend, but must sign a pit waiver and pay admission.  The grandstands will not be open for the practice session.  Ocala Speedway will open the 2011 racing season on March 4th, with the traditional visit from the United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series, plus Ocala's own Amsoil V8 Thunder Stocks, and Gladiators.  For more information, visit us at www.OcalaSpeedway.com.

Ocala Speedway Results for 2/19/11

Bubba Army Sprint Car Nationals, Night 3

1- 71 Damion Gardner
2- 10 Blake Fitzpatrick
3- 20 Levi Jones
4- 35 Hunter Schuerenberg
5- 4G Casey Shuman
6- 37 Casey Riggs
7- 53 Jon Stanbrough
8- 69 Jerry Coons Jr.
9- 29 Bud Kaeding
10- 5 Bobby East
11- 7 Bryan Clauson
12- 81 Robert Ballou
13- 4 Tracy Hines
14- 10E Shane Cottle
15- 39 Dave Darland
16- 36 Brady Short
17- 5X Chris Windom
18- 83 Wes McIntyre
19- 17R Kyle Robbins
20- 32 Chase Stockton
21- 42G Steve Irwin
22- 40 Justin Grant
23- 1G Scotty Weir

UMP Modifieds, Night 3

1- 40B Kyle Bronson
2- 89 Mike Spatola
3- 2 Devin Dixon
4- 18 David McWilliams
5- 07 Jeff Thomas
6- 05 David Wietholder
7- 56 Dave Barber Jr.
8- 33 Jeff Mathews
9- 99 Jim Passino
10- 72 Todd Neiheiser
11- D4 Dave Jamison
12- 1K Scott Kurtzner
13- 11 Chuck Gustafson Jr.
14- 13 Cory Hupp
15- 21 Gary Brooks
16- 47 Bill Howard

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