The 2011 UMP Open-Wheel Modified season has mostly been led by the 3-time champ Jeff Mathews. Unlike last season, however, Mathews hasn't dominated every race and has just 2 wins. Another would build upon his 39 point lead and get him ever closer to that unprecedented 4th-in-a-row. Ivedent Lloyd, Jr. and Austin Sanders have each put the Mathews Motorsports 333 on track but neither has won with it. Lloyd has been close a few times but has used his better luck on the Late Model side. Jim Passino has taken Chuck Gustafson's 34 all the way to 3rd but he has 52 points to make up. With Double Points he could do it but Mathews will need to help him. Garret Stewart and Dave Barber are having top 5 seasons but both still want a win. Stewart continues to seek that elusive 1st win and with the way he's run on Double Points nights it could be closer then ever. Ronnie Chance has put Donald Wilson's 7S in the 6th position with some wonderful consistency. Consistency is the key to a title and it also leads to wins. Hammond Motorsports' Kyle Bronson is in 7th and is coming off of a bad race. Bronson wouldn't mind going from flipper to winner but it's easier said than done. Hozie Hutchenson has put Henry Hall in his 31 for 2011 and Hall has driven it to 8th so far. Hall still seeks a win this season but could take it at any time. Tom Macaloso made a good decision when he put Rich Pratt in his #78 and the alliance has produced 2 wins including the coveted One Last One For PJ Wiggins in which he won in a dramatic fashion. Scott Mooers, the rookie, rounds out the top 10. Mooers has driven smart and has finished races and can focus on top 5s and wins rather than fixing race cars.
With 11 wins between them and the top 2 albeit locked up Steve Cox, 7 wins, and Reid Christensen, 4, deserve the nicknames "Dominator" and "New Dominator." Cox leads Christensen by 32 points but it isn't impossible. Christensen has gained 30 points in a 3-week period before and could do it again. Brandon Haseleu and Steve Johnson are 3rd and 4th, respectively, with 2 entirely different seasons. Haseleu has used consistency, will power, and the help of his father to hold onto 3rd while Johnson has used top 3 after top 3 to gain back the points he lost in the first 5 weeks. Richard Todd and Jerry Taylor are in a heated battle for 5th with Taylor just 1 point out. Both have shown they can win but have yet to close the deal. Over 400 points out of 1st and in the battle for 7th are Matt Kramer and Robert Graham. Kramer and his crew are coming off of an impressive 4th place finish and hope to repeat and improve by season's end. Graham, on the other hand, is looking for wins and has come close a few times but that rotten luck has bitten him. Graham could make it an interesting 4-man battle at the front with his team-mate Christensen and the S&S Cars. Kody Fisher and Stephen Frankland round out the top 10. Both have shown improvement and could take some valuable points with a win or 2 by season's end.
The Sportsman division has their 2nd feature of 2011 and will show some massive gains with the knowledge they gained from a few weeks ago. JO Nobles brought the Sportsman down and showed the other drivers how to get around Bubba Raceway Park. Nobles will hope to do it again, but Davey Kinsey and Forrest Gough will do their best to take another podium finish- this time on the top step. John Bradley and Charlie Davis rounded out the top 5 with impressive drives as well. Bill Adkins, Adam Collins, and Collin Wright were 6th-8th, respectively, and stayed out of trouble for the most part. "Big Puddin" Billy Costello had rotten luck and had a DNF as did Chris Shea who impressed in his 1st ever start in the Sportsman.
Round 7 of a 10 race Bubba Raceway Park season takes place this week-end for the Florida Mini Sprints and they'll be looking for their 7th different winner. David Pleaugh, currently locked in a battle for the title, won the first feature in dominant fashion. Of course, that is his only win of 2011. Gavin Thomas took the 2nd win while driving for Jesse Teed who happened to take the 3rd feature of 2011. Eddie Moss, Jr. watched his brother flip down the frontstretch but it didn't stop him from taking the 4th feature and enjoying it. Of course, it also helped his cause in the championship battle as he is 4th. Chris Pacetti literally drove over Justin Kolves for the Round 5 victory but was disqualified for a missing muffler which gave Kolves the trophy, points, and money. Kolves has missed a few races which has dropped him to a distant 5th in the FMSA points standings. Chris Pacetti took his 4th win of the season, his first since April, in Round 6 and kept it this time. With such a diverse group of men and women on the tour there is no telling who will take the next checkered flag or even the championship. (All points positions in this article are as of September 19)
Gates open at 4:30 with racing scheduled for 7. Best seats get taken early so you will want to be the early bird. For more information you can go to www.bubbaracewaypark.com or call the Speedway hotline at 352-622-9400.