OCALA, FL- Racers, fans, and speedway staff, gathered on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to celebrate the 2010 racing season at the historic Ocala Speedway, plus recognize and honor the top finishers in each racing division. The outdoor banquet featured a home cooked dinner featuring bar-b-que pork and chicken, green beans, macaroni and cheese, plus an assortment of delicious desserts, and was held on the checker board concourse behind the main grandstands at the track.
The top five finishers in each divisional points race were honored with trophies and their share of the driver's points fund, plus a few special individual awards were given to racers who stood out above the others. Ocala Speedway owner Michael Peters personally handed out the awards, and allowed each recipient a chance to thank those who made their success possible in 2010.
The Most Improved Driver of 2010 was awarded to Kyle Morse of Ocala's Gladiator Division. Morse began the season struggling to get his car around the track without spinning it out or bouncing off of anything within his range, but by the end of the season was competing with some of the top contenders in the division.
The David Reutimann Award went to another Gladiator competitor, Brandon Haseleu. Haseleu also struggled early in the season, but hung tough and showed great desire to learn and adapt. By the end of 2010 Haseleu was holding his own, and now has announced plans to move up to a V8 Thunder Stock sometime in the 2011 season.
The 2010 Driver of the Year Award went to Wayne Hammond, a top competitor in Ocala Speedway's Open Wheel Modified Division.
The Sportsman Division at Ocala was short lived in 2010, as a wide disparity in the rules between different tracks helped to keep the car counts low and doom the division at Florida's oldest speedway. But at the time that the division raced a final race at Ocala, Augie Burttram had taken control of the points lead and was awarded the championship trophy for his hard work.
Ocala's Gladiator division featured probably the wildest and most hotly contested points race through the final weeks of the season. Kyle Morse began the season struggling to keep up, but gradually adapted and earned the 5th place trophy in the end. Casey Feaster at one time in the season held the points lead at both Ocala and at Volusia Speedway Park, but problems with his tow vehicle cost him a night on the track at Ocala and knocked him out of the top spot. Feaster rallied to finish 4th in the points standings, while one time points leader Steve Johnson slipped from the top and salvaged a 3rd place final standing. Devin Walker had been in contention to win the division going into the final races, but an accident in turn 4 on a wild night of racing left him as the 2nd place finisher. And Matt Shea fought his way up the points ladder throughout the season, finally reaching the top rung when it counted most in the final outings, capturing the Gladiator points championship in the process.
There are few tracks left where Mini Stocks can still run on dirt, and Ocala is the only one where they can still compete as a regular division. Paul Combast had been riding at the top of the points battle but a disqualification and missing races at the end of the season left him in the 5th spot as the season ended. Buddy Pope fought his way to a 4th place finish in the points battle, while Johnny Zackery wound up placing 3rd. The top two spots were all in the family as Nick Kerr held off his father, Dan Kerr, for the Mini Stock points championship.
Consistency was the key for William Edwards to finish in 5th place in the Tee Pee Tire Hobby Stock points battle, as Jody Wells raced hard for his 4th place trophy. Danny Miller Jr found his way to victory more than once, but had to overcome possibly the most spectacular crash of 2010 at Ocala Speedway to claim the 3rd spot in the points. But the battle for the points lead was between both Heath Walker and Dean Jarvis for most of the season, with Jarvis taking and holding onto the lead for the Tee Pee Tire Hobby Stock Championship.
To wind up in the top five of the Amsoil V8 Thunder Stock points battle is a matter of survival at Ocala, as the Thunder Stocks are a rough and tumble bunch, but Brian Shea was up to the task and claimed the 5th spot overall. Vaughn Woodall used consistency to claim the 4th spot, while Chris Shea hung tough for a 3rd place finish. The championship was decided on the final night of the season as Mike Stalnaker's disqualification landed him the 2nd place points trophy and awarded the Amsoil V8 Thunder Stock Championship to Scott Mooers. That feat meant that Mooers managed to claim the championship at both the tough 3/8ths mile at Ocala Speedway, and also at the 1/2 mile expanse of Volusia Speedway Park.
Ocala Speedway's Open Wheel Modifieds battled hard all season, with Garret Stewart rising through the ranks to wind up in the 5th place overall. Stewart was followed in 4th place by Wayne Hammond, while consistent performances placed Tim Zackery 3rd in the final points tally. Kyle Bronson was a tough competitor all season, and managed to claim the 2nd place trophy despite some setbacks. But the dominant force in Ocala's Modified division once again was Jeff Mathews, who managed to win all but two races on the schedule in route to the open Wheel Modified Points Championship.
The Ocala Speedway Late Model Division saw Phillip Cobb prove that he could be a winner, as he won the prestigious Powell Memorial at Ocala Speedway in June of 2010. That feat, along with consistent racing throughout the season, gained Cobb the 5th place in the final points standings for the racing season. Christian Augspurger may have just gotten his learner's permit back in December, but he used both consistency and excellent driving skills to wheel his late model to claim the 4th place trophy while he was still just 14 years old. Augspurger will,be back in 2011, and possibly even more ambitious now that he is the ripe old age of 15.
Things get a bit confused in the final Late Model points standings as the season ended in a tie between Ocala's Ivedent Lloyd Jr and defending 2009 Champion J.O. Nobles. So with no true 2nd and 3rd place finishers determined, the winnings for both racers were combined and divided evenly between them, and each was awarded a trophy. But in 2010 the Late Model Points Championship was won by Mark Whitener, who also managed to claim the top spot for the season with the United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series as well.
Ocala Speedway will kick off the 2011 racing season on Friday, March 4th, with outstanding Late Model action from the United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series, plus Ocala Speedway's tough V8 Thunder Stocks and the highly competitive Gladiators. In the meantime, fans can enjoy Winternationals sprint car action from the O'Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions, and the Florida Mini Sprint Association, on Friday and Saturday, February 4th and 5th. Winternationals competition continues on Sunday, February 13th as the best of the best in national dirt late model action come to Ocala in a one night free for all that pays $8000 to the winner, and that also features a $500 to win feature for Ocala's fender banging V8 Thunder Stocks. And on February 17th through 19th feature non winged sprint car mayhem from the USAC Bubba Army Sprint Car Nationals, plus the UMP Modifieds. For more information on upcoming events at America's Dirt Track, please visit www.OcalaSpeedway.com.