OCALA, FL- After days of torrential rain left Ocala Speedway a muddy mess and washed out the first night of points racing in 2011, it will be try, try again this Friday, April 8th. Included on the schedule will be the Late Models, the Hobby Stocks, The Amsoil Thunder Stocks, the Mini Stocks, and the Gladiators. This will be the last Friday of regular racing before the Monster Trucks invade Ocala Speedway the following week.
Thanks to the interference of Mother Nature, Ocala Speedway's Late Models have seen virtually no action this season except for a few determined racers that participated in some special events. Of those drivers, Christian Augspurger is the only regular Ocala weekly Late Model racer who has been racing at the track, as Tyler Ivey and Ivedent Lloyd do not compete in the regular season points race on a weekly basis. But defending Late Model Champion Mark Whitener got in some fast practice laps over a month ago, and he will be the odds on favorite to win come Friday night.
So far in 2011 the Ocala Speedway Hobby Stocks have managed two races, and both of those were won by racers who normally turn their laps at the opposite end of the National Forest. Mike Tovet reigned supreme on March 11th, and Joe Belkey beat Tovet and the rest of the field on March 18th. But with those racers now distracted by points races elsewhere, newcomer Matt Shea may be in the perfect position to take advantage as the points season begins at Ocala. Shea moved up from the Gladiator ranks at the end of 2010, and so far has registered both 4th and 5th place finishes on the year. Danny Miller Jr has finally gotten his machine ready to race and should be back, and Jody Wells may have finally corrected the troubles that have held him back in 2011 and should be poised to make a run.
Ray Wheeler has won every Amsoil Thunder Stock race in 2011 at Ocala Speedway with the exception of one, but with the official points season just now getting underway Wheeler's wins amount to nothing more than some trophies and the money that he took home. As one might expect, when races begin to count towards a championship is when Jason Gamble gets going, and Gamble was all over Wheeler in the last race run on March 25th. Gamble won the one exception to Wheeler's record, and fully expects to leave with the points lead on Friday night.
The Mini Stock Division is getting a bit of a reprieve this week as they were rained out on April 1st, and management decided to add them to this week's program. So far in 2011 the Mini Stocks have hit the clay only once, and that race went to Tim Zackery. Meanwhile young Ryan Babcock stepped up his game and finished second, and he will be joined by his father, Sean, in this week's race. Johnny Zackery hopes to have the mechanical woes that ended his night early in the first race solved and will be ready to race as well, and Jimbo Bird should be ready for action after blowing the engine in his new Mini Stock the first time out.
So far in 2011 Casey Feaster has not lost a Gladiator feature at Ocala Speedway, but his wins have not counted toward the season points total. Feaster was on track to win the points championship in 2010 when he was derailed by a mechanical failure that caused him to arrive at the track too late to race one night, so he is extra determined this time around. But don't count our Kyle Morse, who has honed his skills and seems ready to challenge the frontrunners of the division this year, and keep an eye on Sammy Dale, who has been fast but has been stopped by mechanical issues during the first two outings.
America's Dirt Track will open the grandstand gate at 5PM on Friday afternoon with heat races scheduled for 8PM. Remember that the Monster Jam Summer Heat tour will be at Ocala Speedway April 15th through the 17th, so Friday will be an excellent opportunity to avoid long lines and get your advance tickets early. For more information on this week's racing, or upcoming events at America's dirt Track, please visit www.OcalaSpeedway.com.