By- Jim Rouse
7-30-13. Ocala, FL- The Bubba Army Late Models return to the 3/8 mile oval in Ocala while the E-Mods, Hobby Stocks, 1-800-ASK GARY Thunder Stocks, and Rent-N-Roll Gladiators join them for an outstanding night of racing.
Anthony, Florida's Rich Pratt has taken his Groeb Farms #0 to the lead in the championship, but he has yet to win in a few years in the Late Model division. Pratt has shown the speed necessary to win, but two-time winner and defending champion Mark Whitener needs his third win in the Dave's Towing #58 so he can close the 37-point gap to Pratt. A further 22 back is St. Petersburg's not-yet-a-teenager Tyler Clem, a Tony Stewart Racing Developmental Driver. Clem, already a winner in the Limited Late Model ranks, has been brilliant in his Elder Ford of Tampa #14 and no one would be surprised if he soon becomes the youngest winner in North American Late Model racing. Dover, Florida's Jeff Mathews has moved his Night Hawk Towing #33 into fourth and he sits only 71 behind the leader. Kyle Bronson continues to chase the NeSmith Touring Series Rookie of the Year (and championship too) in his Brandon Ford #40B, but he is fifth in the standings at Bubba Raceway Park.
Ocala's Shane Nichols, a four-time winner already, leads the E-Mod Championship by 15 points over Trenton, Florida's Shane Taylor. Another 17 back is Taylor's brother Shawn, also from Trenton. Gainesville's Charlie Howard, Jr. has jumped up into fourth, but he's 100 markers behind Nichols. Rounding out the top five is Roy Crain, Jr. of Live Oak. Nichols won the opening four races, but a couple of bad runs has allowed the Taylor's to get right back into the championship battle.
Mayo, Florida's Devin Walker- a Danny Lasoski Racing Developmental Driver- has been impressive, okay, spectacular in 2013. Coming off of his third win of the season, he now leads the division in wins and has himself a 125 point lead over second year driver Brian Shea. Shea, an Ocala boy, has something Walker does not, however, as Shea won the 2011 Thunder Stock title. Now 218 points behind, Howey-In-The-Hills' Hunter Gustafson is still in third but he sees his fellow youngster walking away with a championship. Sean Monoghan of Ocala and Dennis Williams of Zephyrhills round out the top five, but both have given up on their title aspirations.
Summerfield's own William Gillam gained some momentum last week as he put his championship lead up to 14 over Anthony, Florida's Brandon Elwood. Belleview's Melvin Fockler slipped back a bit and is now 71 markers back in his #33, but he picked up some points on Elwood after driver #28 had a DNF. Tony Campbell of Mt. Dora lost a few points and is now 103 points behind the leader and Ocala's Brandon Tillander rounds out the top five, 150 points out. Every driver knows they'll hit a bad stretch, but no one knows when it will happen. Survival is key in this tight championship battle.
Stephen Frankland of Barnsley-North Yorkshire, England now has a 223-point lead over Ocala's Bill Southard. Frankland just earned his seventh win of the year, tying the division record- he'll need eight more for the Modern Era Overall record set by Keith Briggs in the 2008 Mini Stocks. Tom Sheehan, also from Ocala, is up to third, but he's let Dave Arivett drive his car for the last couple weeks. Ocala's Josh Fincher, once the championship leader, is now 322 back and Tyler Bryden of Ocala is 345 back, but he's closing in on that first career win.
Racing is scheduled for 7 with pits opening at 4 and grandstands at 5. Night of a Thousands and Back To School Night are also coming up, so check out the schedule at www.bubbaracewaypark.com or call us at 352-622-9400 for any other info you may need!