ZUBER, FL- It has been a long and hard summer at Ocala Speedway. Nature has played havoc with the schedule as rain and wet conditions have kept racers and fans at home on more Friday nights than at the track. But a Friday night with no rain presented the first opportunity for racing in July, and racers and fans came out in droves to take advantage of it.
A strong field of top Late Models took the green with Jason Davis on the pole, but Davis' night would not go well from there. Meanwhile local favorite Rich Pratt earned a so-so starting position on the outside of the third row, and began the task of making it better in the opening laps. Pratt was relentless, and as the laps ticked off he continued to work his way up front, using the high line and making his passes to the outside.
With Davis falling back, Keith Nosbisch took over at the point and looked like the car to beat. But Rich Pratt was charging up behind him by lap 7, with Jeff Mathews zigging when Pratt would zag, briefly wrestling 2nd from Pratt until another car caused Mathews to lose momentum and Pratt immediately pounced on the opportunity. Rich Pratt would get past Nosbisch on lap 15 on a restart and never look back, leaving Mathews to settle for second place. Jason Fitzgerald fought his way forward to claim the third spot, followed by Dillon Wood and Shan Smith.
As the Mini Stocks hit he track Paul Combast was sporting a brand new race car that was more or less untested, and Combast wasted no time in figuring out what it would do. Sean Babcock had the early lead but submitted to Calvin Christian on the second lap, then Christian was outpaced by Combast on lap 5. Combast was far better than the rest of the field, cruising to a decisive victory as Sean Babcock followed in the second spot. Greg Bonynge took his 44 to a third place finish while Travis Staats battled from a back row start to fourth place at the checkers. Calvin Christian had a tough time on the night, and the body work on his car showed it as he claimed the fifth spot.
The Amsoil V8 Thunder Stocks were ready for action on Friday night as Courtney Eubanks readied herself to defend her win from a few weeks back. Unfortunately for Eubanks, things would not go so well this time around, as the racing gods applied a little payback for her previous success. Two lost wheels and a lot of bent sheet metal later, she still managed to finish the race just outside of the top ten.
And while Eubanks struggled, Jason Gamble was on the move. Gamble was fast, and systematically worked his way forward from a deep starting position toward the front, taking advantage of others' mistakes and some restarts along the way. Geoffrey Eisenhower had started in the front of the pack and did his best to remain there, doing battle with David Walls. But no one could contain Gamble, who rocketed out front and stayed there for the win. James Edwards also battled hard and claimed second, while Eisenhower settled for a respectable third place. David Walls and Sean Babcock rounded out the top five.
The scariest moment of the night came early in the Gladiator feature, as 12 year old Kody Fisher found himself in a tangle with two other racers on the front stretch. As a result of that contact, Fisher's car went straight to the turn one wall, violently smacking it head on. While the car was trashed, Kody Fisher climbed out under his own power and walked away.
From that point the race became the Mike Lane show, as he made his first appearance at Ocala Speedway into an impressive one. Lane's 911 car was hooked up and blasted away from the rest of the field, while Harold Lewis gave chase for the second spot. Austin Gamble struggled a bit early on, but recovered to place third, while Paul Hahn and Eddie Lentz placed fourth and fifth.
The Hobby Stocks will return to Ocala Speedway on Friday, July 31st, as they go at it in a $1000 to win event. The Open Wheel Modifieds will return as well, plus the Amsoil V8 Thunder Stocks, Mini Stocks, and Gladiators, will be racing. Gates will open at 5PM with heats beginning at 8PM. For more info, go to www.OcalaSpeedway.com, or call 352-622-9400.