OCALA, FL- Florida's oldest speedway is back in action this coming Friday night with a full slate of races scheduled. Headlining the evening will be the very popular and competitive Florida Mini Sprint Association, making a regular season appearance at Ocala Speedway after an earlier visit during February as part of the Winternationals events. Fans will also see action from Ocala's own Open Wheel Modifieds, the Amsoil Thunder Stocks, the Mini Stocks, and the Gladiators.
The Florida Mini Sprints are one of the most competitive and exciting traveling racing series in the state, and each of their visits to Ocala Speedway has produced top quality competition. These little winged sprint cars are capable of speeds around 130 mph, and they scream around Ocala Speedway's tight turn 4 with reckless abandon. The pure excitement that they generate is the reason that the FMSA is the only Florida based racing series that is invited to compete alongside the O'Reilly All Stars Sprint car series during Ocala's Winternationals, and a major reason why Ocala Speedway race fans enjoy seeing them on the schedule on a regular basis.
As the regular points season opens for Ocala's Modifieds, the racer with the most wins on the southeast's toughest 3/8ths mile in 2011 is Kyle Bronson. Bronson picked up a win with the UMP Mods during Ocala's Winternationals, and he returned to Victory Lane on March 11th. Meanwhile Jeff Mathews has one win this year which he scored during Winternationals as well. Matthews is the defending division champion, and has dominated the division since Ocala's asphalt was covered with clay. So now the question is whether Bronson can keep the pattern going and manage to unseat Mathews at the top of the heap, and Friday's race might be the first step in that direction.
Speaking of domination, Ray Wheeler has won every Amsoil V8 Thunder Stock race so far with just one exception, and has his streak of consecutive victories up to three going into Friday's race. If anyone is primed to stop Wheeler, it would have to be Jason Gamble, who was the victor in the only race that Wheeler failed to win, and who raced Wheeler with everything that he had last Friday night, only to be forced to settle for second place. The way Wheeler and Gamble are racing, they could be the rivalry to watch this season at Ocala Speedway.
In 2010 the Mini Stocks at Ocala Speedway became the last remaining Mini Stock division running on dirt in the state. This year two more tracks have added the division, and both are running rules packages that are in line with those at Ocala. The hope for fans and racers is that this creates more support and gets some cars down from the jackstands that have held them for over a year, and this Friday may be a good indication as to whether that is happening or not. Tim Zackery won the initial race of the season at Ocala with young Ryan Babcock finishing second, and this week brings the return of Ryans' father, Sean, to the division. Cody Kinsey will also be back and looking to improve on his third place finish from earlier this month.
Casey Feaster was in the running to win the Gladiator Division Championship in 2010 when a mechanical issue with his tow vehicle caused him to miss a race, thus derailing his hopes at the worst possible time. But that is in the past, and so far in 2011 Feaster has been the only winner in the division with two victories under his belt. However, those races were non points events, and did not count toward the championship, so this Friday is Feaster's first chance this year to take the lead and make amends for last season's slip. The only racer who has shown real signs of being able to outpace Feaster is Sammy Dale, but Dale's runs have been cut short by mechanical woes so far. And never rule out Kyle Morse, who has figured out how to run up front and complicate matters for old guard of the division.
Ocala Speedway will open the grandstand gate at 5PM this Friday with heat races slated to begin at 8PM. For more information, visit America's Dirt Track online at www.OcalaSpeedway.com, or call the track at 352-622-9400.