Ever since the asphalt surface at Ocala was covered in top quality gumbo clay, the United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series has been a regular staple on the yearly schedule, and per the usual tradition will open the racing season both for Ocala Speedway, and for the racing series itself. 2010 Champion Mark Whitener was at the track this past Saturday getting the Big Frog Motorsports ride dialed in for Friday's race, and so were a number of other regionally well known late model teams. Whitener drove the 58 machine to both the UDLMCS and the Ocala Speedway championships and would love to repeat that feat, but the other racers and their crews have other ideas about that. Whitener easily had the fastest car in the Saturday practice session, and looked to be ready to face all challengers when the green flag waves on Friday.
Fans got a sneak preview of the Amsoil V8 Thunder Stocks in action in February as they raced in a $500 to win, Sunday night affair that saw Jason Gamble make a return to Victory Lane. But this time around there will be points scored toward the season championship, so the necessity of getting off to a good start will have Gamble looking over his shoulder. The Amsoil V8 Thunder Stocks have earned the reputation of being a tough and rugged bunch at Ocala, and the use of fenders and bumpers will probably be as prevalent in 2011 as it was in 2010. So racers and fans are expecting yet another physical affair to crank up the points season, while Jason Gamble, and a host of others, look to unseat Scott Mooers as the division champion.
The Ocala Speedway Gladiator division will have a different look this season as some heavy hitters have moved up and moved on, leaving room for others to fill the top rungs of the season points ladder. That suggests a quick scramble as those still left in the division, plus some newcomers, all vie for those spots on the opening night of racing, and that should result in a hard fought race. But while some top names have left the division, others are still out there and ready to take on all comers, and the potential is there for the Gladiators to provide the tightest points race of any division again in 2011.
The Ocala Speedway grandstand gates will open at 5PM on Friday evening, with hot laps and Late Model qualifying to follow. Heat races will begin at 8PM. Special event pricing will be in effect for Friday's races, so fans should check the season schedule at www.OcalaSpeedway.com for further information, or call the track at 352-622-9400.