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Opening Night A Huge Success At Ocala Speedway

. Posted in Racing News

The racing gods showed favor to Ocala Speedway on Friday night, providing a near perfect evening for racers and fans to kick off the 2009 season.  And the speedway responded with a packed grandstand, a pit area teeming with race cars, and plenty of outstanding action.  The night was headlined by the premier late model racing series in the southeast region, the United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series, plus a $500 to win Hobby Stock feature event, and the first race of the Ocala Mini Stock season.

Ocala Speedway normally does not do time trials, but relented and allowed qualifying for the UDLMCS racers, doing it early in the evening on what turned out to be a very slippery track. That had an effect on the early qualifiers, and later cars had better results as the clay came in. Keith Nosbisch set the fast time with an 18.260. 
Nosbisch also captured one of the UDLMCS heat races, as did Jackie Nosbisch, Mark Whitener, and Jason Fitzgerald.  And in the B main, Travis Rhoden took a win and transferred to the main event along with Jordy Nipper, Dennis Williams, and John Rankin.  Rich Pratt drove his heart out in the B main yet missed the final transfer spot, but was given the track provisional to start in the feature race.

img_7878resized.jpgThe 50 lap, $3000 to win UDLMCS A main feature was an exciting race that featured plenty of hard racing and sheet metal rubbing, and an early fracas in turns 3 and 4 claimed three race cars.  Rich Pratt was probably wondering if his provisional start had been a good idea after he took a vicious hit in the seven car mele.  Pratt said later that it was the second hardest hit that he had ever taken, and while it ended his night, both he and the race car will live to race again.  John Rankin and Roger Crouse also had a short night thanks to the accident, which totally blocked the track and brought out a brief red flag.
In the end it was  who had the car to beat, and no one else was up to the challenge.  Whitener took the checkers followed closely by a hard charging Tyler Ivey and Jason Fitzgerald, with Johnny Collins and Russell Brown Jr. rounding out the top five.

img_7867_filteredresized.jpgThe Hobby Stocks were no less exciting as they battled for a $500 first place payout.  Grady Christian took a heat race win as Bubba Christian claimed the third spot despite losing a wheel in turn 4.  Bubba would be unable to repair the damage and could not start the feature race, but it lent plenty of excitement to the heat race.  Donnie Reed dominated the second heat race and looked like the car to beat, but struggled later on in the feature after a mistake put him to the rear of the field.

Grady Christian is always a contender in any Hobby Stock race, and this one was no different, but an early race spin in turn 2 sent him to the rear of the field where he was forced to race his way back to the front.  Meanwhile Joe Boyd had his new race car looking tough to beat, but a slowly deflating tire also deflated his chances.  That opened the door for Kevin Durden to take control, and allowed Donnie Reed to move to the second spot.

Dave Kinsey also had a fast car but a meeting with the frontstretch wall on lap 6 caused his car to break in turn 3, ending his night.  The resulting caution bunched up the field and allowed Grady Christian to make up a lot of track on the leaders, and put him back into contention.  By lap 8 Christian was in second place, and putting extreme pressure on Kevin Durden lap after lap.  Donnie Reed was also in the mix as the top three pulled away from the field, but tangled with Christian in turn 3 on lap 15, spinning Christian and relegating Reed to the rear.
Kevin Durden prevailed despite the best efforts of Grady Christian to pass him in the final laps, and they finished one and two at the checkers.  Donald Winne had patiently made his way through the field to claim the third spot, while Buddy Rohn finished fourth and Donnie Reed recovered to take the fifth spot.

img_7865_filteredresized.jpgSean Babcock captured the Mini Stock heat race in dominating fashion, but the feature event found him deep in the starting field thanks to a huge invert.  Greg Bonynge started from the pole in the feature race only to be overtaken by Amanda Rogers at the green flag.  Bonynge ended up in a side by side tangle for second with Blake Spencer, which Spencer eventually won.  Rogers looked unbeatable early in the race, but Spencer found a weakness and passed her for the lead on lap 3.
A restart after a caution on lap 5 saw three cars tangle on the frontstretch as Rogers, Spencer, Dennis Jones, and Paul Combast, all collided.  Combast got the worst of it with heavy sheet metal damage, but was able to continue.  He would later advance to the second spot to place behind the eventual winner, Blake Spencer, at the checkers.  Sean Babcock would finish third, while Amanda Rogers and Greg Bonynge would place fourth and fifth.
Ocala Speedway is back in action on Friday, March 6th, with Scouts of America Night.  The Open wheel Modifieds will kick off their season along with the Amsoil V8 Thunder Stocks and the Gladiators.  The Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks will return to round out the action.  For information on upcoming events, please visit www.OcalaSpeedway.com, or call the track at 352-622-9400.

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