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Christian Augspurger Gets First Career Victory at Ocala

. Posted in Racing News

OCALA, FL-  Near perfect weather greeted racers and fans at the historic Ocala Speedway on Friday night, as five divisions took on the tricky track and each other.  Earlier in the week a torrential rainstorm had left the speedway literally filled with water that took more than 24 hours to finally drain out of the facility. Three days of drying, plus the track crew's efforts, got the clay ready for racing despite the flooding earlier in the week.  The result was a fast and sticky track that kept changing over the course of the night, keeping the racers in a constant state of adaptation.

One constant in Late Model racing at Ocala has been the father and son team of Christian Augspurger, who travel four hours one way from West Palm Beach in order to race on the southeast's toughest 3/8ths mile, and Christian's crew chief dad gave his son a near perfect machine with which to take on the track and the field.  And an impressive showing in his heat race, coupled with a lucky pill draw, left the 15 year old racer sitting in his first ever front row start at Ocala, and convinced him that Friday was going to be his night.  At intermission few noticed when Augspurger came out onto the track on a ATV to survey the conditions, taking special care to closely study the clay in Ocala's notorious turn four.  Augspurger saw an opportunity, and he was on a mission to see it through.

And the polite young man with the fiery red hair wasted no time in making a statement in the feature race, jumping out in front of Bo Allen and the rest of the field and never once looking back. Allen gave chase for a bit and even looked to be reeling in the 35 machine, but Augspurger changed his line around the tricky track and stretched his lead to a full half of a lap, lapping his way all the way to fifth place on his way to his first career victory.  Bo Allen finished in second place with Brandon Dewitt placing third.  Austin Kirkpatrick overcame carburetor issues to salvage a fourth place finish after running as high as third place, and Darrell Padgett drove the M&M number 7 to the fifth spot.

A distinct lack of Hobby Stocks left young Devin Walker and Matt Shea in a position where the two could race each other almost unmolested by others, so the two of them cut loose just as they had many times before in the Gladiator division, but this time with a lot more power and weight to use in the fight. Robert Sirmons was also in the mix, but he took care to allow the two young veterans of the speedway to have at each other.  Walker claimed the early lead while Shea wound up in third place, but Shea found something in the first few laps in that launched him to the front and past the 55 to take the lead.

Robert Sirmons followed in the third spot right on the rear spoiler of Devin Walker, but took care never to get involved in the fray between the front two as they ticked off the laps in the race.  On the final lap it was up to Devin Walker to either do something impressive or allow Matt Shea to get the checkers, so Walker flung the 55 into tricky turn 4 with reckless abandon, getting a bit squirrelly in the process, and with Sirmons literally under his rear spoiler, contact had to happen.  While Matt Shea breezed under the checkered flags, Devin Walker slid sideways into the front stretch wall under the flagstand to take second and leave the track on a hook as Walker's accident was cleared within ten feet of Shea's victory celebration.  Robert Sirmons took the third spot and was apologetic about the contact in congratulating the front two finishers.

The Mini Stocks had been scheduled to run a week previous, but thanks to wet track conditions that canceled racing, they were moved to this Friday night's racing card.  Ray Ethridge took early control and looked like he could possibly win the race, but Buddy Pope was making his way forward through the field and had Ethridge in his sights.  Pope grabbed the lead on lap 9 as Sean Babcock began working on Ethridge for the second spot, but Babcock's right rear tire exploded as he made the pass, ending his night.  Buddy Pope hung on for the win while Ray Ethridge claimed the second spot.  Johnny Zackery battled his way up to third place, followed by Ryan Babcock and Tim Zackery to round out the top five.

During heat racing earlier in the night, Don Strohsal demonstrated that he had a very fast race car and looked to be a factor in the later feature event, and when the Amsoil Thunder Stocks took the green flag for their 20 lap feature it was Strohsal that took control early on.  But Strohsal had a determined Chris Fontaine on his rear bumper, along with a couple of other tough competitors.  But Fontaine had problems of his own with Chris Shea, who fought him tooth and nail for second place and even wrestled it away for a bit and went after Strohsal himself.  Shea may have eventually been able to get past Strohsal, but contact on the track led to some mechanical issues that slowed him down in the end and allowed Fontaine to repass him for second place.

Don Strohsal claimed the win with Chris Fontaine settled for second place.  Chris Shea managed to salvage a third place finish despite his car being greatly under power in the final laps, and Jason Gamble battled his way to the fourth place spot.  And after running in the top three for most of the race, a blunder in the final laps cost Mike Valdez three spots, but he recovered enough to salvage fifth on the night.

As the Gladiators took their turn on the track, Casey Feaster found himself relegated to the rear and with 15 laps to get himself through traffic and in front of the field.  So while Feaster dealt with congested track conditions, Kathie Fisher jumped out to an early lead as Brandon Haseleu gave chase.  Fisher held the lead for all but half of the race before Haseleu passed her for the top spot, but Haseleu was not home free as Casey Feaster was making headway and catching up to the leaders.  And meanwhile Ken McLeod was also on the move, getting past Fisher as Rebecca Paugh followed.

As the laps wound down, Feaster was left to challenge Haseleu for the top spot, and yet repeated tries at a pass came up short.  So on the final lap Casey Feaster made one last shot at getting under the 3 car, and managed to get past in the final half of a lap to seal a win while Brandon Haseleu was forced to settle for second.  Ken McLeod's earlier efforts paid off with a third place finish, and Rebecca Paugh fought her way to the fourth spot.  Kathie Fisher hung on to complete the list of top five finishers.

Ocala Speedway's racers will be on hiatus the weekend of April 15th through the 17th, as the Monster Jam Summer Heat Tour will invade America's Short Track for a weekend of high flying action.  Grave Digger, Maximum Destruction, and others, will all be appearing at Ocala Speedway in four huge shows beginning on Friday night and running through Sunday afternoon.  Complete details on ticket prices and show times can be found at www.OcalaSpeedway.com.

Ocala Speedway Results for 4/8/11

Late Model

1- 35 Christian Augspurger
2- 71 Bo Allen
3- 2 Brandon Dewitt
4- 11 Austin Kirkpatrick
5- 7 Darrell Padgett
6- 69B Brian Bernhardt
7- 1* John Koller
8- K3 David Kinsey
9- J17 Joe Kump

Mini Stock

1- 81 Buddy Pope
2- 21 Ray Ethridge
3- 11Z Johnny Zackery
4- 9 Ryan Babcock
5- 47 Tim Zackery
6- 9B Sean Babcock
7- 3 Jamie Tinkham
8- 11 Cody Kinsey
DNS- 5S Sherman Pope
DNS- 12 Jimbo Bird

Amsoil Thunder Stock

1- 11 Don Stroshal
2- 84 Chris Fontaine
3- 76 Chris Shea
4- 27F Jason Gamble
5- 15 Mike Valdez
6- 121 Gordon Cade
7- 03 Charles Cantley
8- 19 Brian Shea
9- 1 Austin Gamble
10- 55W Jonathan Appleby
11- 18 Chris Watson
12- 96 Eddie Lake
13- 3W Vaughn Woodall
DQ (conduct) 44 Todd Roberts

Gladiator

1- 20 Casey Feaster
2- 3 Brandon Haseleu
3- 10 Ken McLeod
4- 23 Rebecca Paugh
5- 83M Kathie Fisher
6- 198 Lake Smith
7- 77 Matthew Kramer
8- 83 Kody Fisher
9- 82 Kyle Morse

Hobby Stock

1- 96 Matt Shea
2- 55 Devin Walker
3- 94 Robert Sirmons
4- 5W Jeff Barrett
5- 69A Mark Trexler

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