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Top Gun Sprints Draw a Crowd at Ocala

. Posted in Racing News

img_2777.jpgZUBER, FL- After a rather warm week the thousands who came to watch racing at Ocala Speedway on Friday night were met by breezy and cool conditions, but with the brand new Top Gun Sprint Car Series on the track for their inaugural race, the action kept everyone excited and warm.  The Top Gun Sprints put on quite a show, complete with drama, hard racing, and a big win for a team that correctly predicted the proper set up for a rapidly changing track.

Gene Lasker and Rich Alexander took heat race wins to help set the field for the Top Gun Sprint car feature race, and as that race unfolded early the fans thought that they knew who was going to win.  Alexander started from the pole but was quickly overtaken by Lasker before the first lap was complete.  By the time the 4th lap was in the books some slower cars were already setting accidental running picks for some of the top five, and causing some frustrations up front.  Matt Kurtz took advantage of that to get position under Rich Alexander and steal second place, then set his sights on Lasker who was extending his lead.

Timg_2587.jpgim Grobaugh had his engine go up in smoke in turns three and four, and the resulting caution enabled Kurtz to close the gap on Lasker.  And by lap 12 Kurtz had found an opening in Lasker's armor and drove through it to take the lead.  Matt Kurtz's car continued to get faster and the race wore on, as his crew anticipated the changing track conditions and put the perfect setup on the 92 machine to make it untouchable in the final laps.  In addition, Lasker's 01 machine began smoking in the final laps, and although he drove the wheels off of it he could not catch or overtake Kurtz.  Matt Kurtz won the first Top Gun Sprint Car feature race, followed by Gene Lasker and Rocky Sullivan.  Bruce Durden came from deep in the field to take home fourth place, while Ryan Partin rounded out the top five.

The ongoing story in the Hobby Stock Division has been the rise of Bubba Christian and how he had beaten his uncle Grady the previous Saturday on the half mile at Volusia Speedway Park.  But early in the feature race it was David Kinsey with the dominant car, until Bubba managed to race his way forward.  Kinsey kept Bubba Christian at bay for over half of the race, but could not prevent a low side pass that sprang Bubba into the lead on lap 10.

img_2711.jpgIn the meantime while Bubba Christian was mixing it up with the leaders, Grady Christian was attempting to fight his way through traffic to order to become a contender.  Late in the race Grady, who had left the earlier heat race on a hook after hitting the frontstretch wall,  managed to rise to the fourth spot while Bubba convincingly drove away from David Kinsey for a win. Kinsey's second place finish was followed by Heath Walker for the third spot, while Grady Christian managed to claw his way to the fourth place finish. Matthew Holbrock finished fifth.

Paul Hahn started the Gladiator feature from the pole, but Derick Sharrone was already challenging that status before the first lap was complete.  Hahn would watch Sharrone pass him before problems struck his machine on lap 3.  As Hahn skillfully demonstrated to the fans, if your front tire passes you in turn 2, then you are probably not going to win the race.

Casey Feaster had started the race deep in the field, but skillfully negotiated his way forward to contend in the end.  Tony LaPorta, who had dominated races at Ocala and Volusia the previous weekend, never got going well enough to climb above fourth place on Friday.  Derick Sharrone proved too much for the other competitors as he logged a win, followed by Casey Feaster in the second spot.  Johnny Alexander came home the third place finisher, while Tony LaPorta grabbed fourth and 12 year old Kody Fisher snagged the fifth place spot.

The Amsoil V8 Thunder Stocks again showed up with a large field of cars ready to do battle, and again paint was traded and sheet metal was dented.  James Erickson began the race from the pole but was quickly overtaken by Chris Fontaine on the first lap.  Fontaine and Erickson waged a fierce, img_2776-2.jpgbut sportsmanlike battle, with Erickson retaking the lead on lap 6.  But contact led to damage on the 66 machine that took it out of contention later in the race, and leaving Chris Fontaine to hold off the rest of the competition.

Jason Gamble was strong again as the 17 car worked its way to the front of the pack.  When Erickson dropped out it was Gamble who provided the drama in battle with Fontaine's 47 machine, but to no avail.  Fontaine got the win as Gamble held onto second place and David Walls wound up third.  Robert Ray did a fine job of remaining in the top 5 by taking fourth, while Justin Durbin drove the 55 car to the fifth place finish.
 
Friday, March 27th will find the employees of Ocala's SCI the guests of Ocala Speedway, and the Open Wheel Modified Division again challenging the clay in beautiful downtown Zuber. In addition to the mods, the Hobby Stocks, Amsoil V8 Thunder Stocks, Mini Stocks, and Gladiators, will all be in action.

 


 

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