Ocala, FL, March 27, 1999 – Winter still seems to have a light hold on the weather. That didn’t keep the fans from turning out to enjoy a great night of racing at Ocala Speedway. Ocala Speedway, fans and drivers together contributed to the fundraiser for Ted Novinger, the driver who was injured last week. A bake sale, and donations from the track, drivers and fans helped raise 5,400 dollars for the Novinger family.
The Coca-Cola 4-Cylinders fielded a full feature tonight. Pete Close in the 86 car had the pole. Bruce Teague sat on the outside in the 63 car. Drivers were in top form for this feature, and racing went 12 clean laps. Close took the lead and stretched it way out. Teague in the 63 car kept second position with Todd Jolley in the 55 car holding third for part of the race. Pete Close claimed the checkered flag. Bruce Teague came in second with Cliff White, who had moved into third coming in next. Todd Jolley and Matt Connelly filled out the top five.
The WTRS Pure Stocks turned out in great force. Chuck Stewart in the 8 car sat on the pole with Larry Bowden in the 77 car on the outside. Bowden quickly took the lead, but he didn’t have much room to play because Stewart, John Betts in the 81 car and Dave Dinehart in the 79 car were all pushing hard. Several times, cars went for spins but the yellow flag was rarely needed. It did come out on lap 7 when car 13 took a spin in turn 4. Racing continued with Bowden still leading the way. Mark Mitchell in the 71 car had moved into fourth. Betts was determined to win this one, but he seems to be carrying a small black cloud around with him this season. As has happened a few times this year, Betts was pushing for the lead and lost his grip on the track, winding up back in the field. Larry Bowden took the win with Mark Mitchell coming in a close second. Dave Dinehart brought home third, and Jason Gamble and Chuck Stewart filled out the top five finishers.
The Dave’s Towing Hobby Stocks came out with a full field. Moose Alderman in the 55 car had pole honors, and Mike Wilson in the 79 car had the outside. Wilson quickly took the lead, but the first yellow flag was thrown on lap 2 when the 89 car spun in turn 4. The restart was quick, but it didn’t even last one lap as another yellow flag flew and then turned red when the 97 car dripped fluid on the track from turn 3 around to turn 4 and into the infield. There was some down time as the clean up crew got the track back in shape. The next restart was also plagued with yellow when three cars bumped in turn 4 and the 57 car had to be towed. Finally, lap 3 was completed and real racing got under way. Alderman, who had been running second, had some trouble and pulled himself out of the race. Wilson was hot tonight, but now he had to contend with David Baxley in the 64 car who had been making his way up through the pack. Baxley had slipped past Alan McCafferty, who was also in that tight pack of leaders along with Shane Nichols in the 65 car. Wilson and Baxley opened up some room between themselves and the rest. McCafferty and Nichols were going head to head for third position. Nichols scraped the front stretch wall as both he and McCafferty came through turn 4 a little wide but it didn’t slow him down as he took third. Mike Wilson took the checkered flag by holding off David Baxley who had to settle for second. Shane Nichols earned third place money with Alan McCafferty coming in fourth. Jason Gamble crossed the finish line in fifth.
The Budweiser Modified had their turn tonight at Ocala Speedway. A full field of cars lined up with Shawn Kart in the 96 car on the pole and Justin Tilton in the 10 car on the outside. Tilton took the lead with Kart close behind. By lap 5, Ed Brown in the 1 car had made his way up into second, pushing Kart back to third and Scott Grossenbach in the 09 car taking up fourth. From lap 5 on of this 20-lap feature, Tilton was under great pressure from Brown. These drivers dug out all the skills they had as they gave the fans a full measure of what racing is all about. The whole feature was caution free and still very exciting. On lap 11, Brown found a hole in Tilton’s armor and took the lead. Tilton never gave up though, and on lap 12 he reclaimed the lead when Brown was momentarily trapped behind a slower car they were lapping. By the start of lap 18, Ed Brown found some extra power and slipped by Tilton, keeping him at bay for the last three laps to claim the checkered flag. Justin Tilton took home second and an extra measure of respect for the great driving skills he displayed. Shawn Kart, Red Vann and Dennis Maples filled out the top five.
A special Powder Puff race was featured tonight. The ladies who support the regular racers were given the chance to show off their driving skills. Suni Hatcher in the 47 car was given pole position. Waylene Gadd sat in the 86 car on the outside. Hatcher drove her car boldly throughout the feature, quickly catching and passing several cars. Drivers were cautious but at the very end, Rita Parker in the 89 car went for a ride she didn’t expect, ending up in the infield off the front stretch, arriving there by sliding sideways. All was well though as Suni Hatcher took the checkered flag. Meredith Jackson in the 18 car came in second with Aimee Merrill in the 81 car taking third. Elaine Simmons driving the 32 car took home fourth with Patti McNeal coming in fifth.
The Steven A. Bagen Late Models appeared for a 50 lap main feature tonight at Ocala Speedway. A full field of cars turned out to race under cool conditions. Brad Heath in the 28 car earned the pole, and Dave Westrich in the 38 car sat on the outside. Heath immediately took the lead with Harold Rankin and Herb Neumann not far behind. Neumann had his car at full throttle and he powered past Rankin. By lap 4, he had claimed the lead. During lap 5 a yellow flag was thrown when the 25 car spun off the front stretch. The flag then turned red when a car had some engine trouble in turn 2 and smoke started coming out from under the hood. After all was cleared up, the field was bunched back up and racing got back under way. The pack was shifting positions and Kevin Bryant in the 54 car was in third. With the pack tightened up, Bryant moved into second and began to seriously push Neumann. Rankin was moving well now and he passed Heath to find open track. He made good and closed the distance between himself and the two leaders. The pack was constantly changing places while the leaders battled. Rankin ran into some bad luck and spun in turn 3, bringing out the final caution of the feature. Small flames appeared but his on-board bottle quickly put them out. He got a push from the tow truck and was able to resume racing. With Rankin seemingly out of contention, Scotty Crockett in the 23 car found himself in third. Neumann and Bryant fought hard with Herb Neumann holding on for the checkered flag. Kevin Bryant was a very close second while Scotty Crockett was a somewhat distant third. Brad Heath and Harold Rankin were in the top five.
The 1999 racing season at Ocala Speedway is well underway. Next week, Ocala Speedway will feature all the regular divisions except Late Models. The Florida Pro Mini Cup cars will put in an appearance, so be sure not to miss the excitement.