Masciarelli Champ After DQ – Butler Tops Sprints on Wild Night
Ocala Speedway brought the curtain down on Saturday night racing with a little bit of everything… rain (and lots of it), a close points race decided in tech, another points leader sweating it out in the pits after crashing early in his race, a first time winner, and a young sprint car hotshoe that is definately dialed in to the tricky Ocala asphalt. At first, it looked like there might not be any racing at all. Heavy rains the day before combined with more steady afternoon showers had track officials laboring to plug up several leaks between the wall and track surface in turn two. The persistent problem was finally contained by an equally persistent track crew and racing finally began in front of a very cooperative crowd almost three hours late. “A month ago, we’d be home watching TV right now,” commented one fan from her seat in the stands. “I like the way the new people running the track do things. They know the drivers are here to race and that the fans are here to watch a race and don’t care if it starts late, just as long as we race,” she said. First on the track were the Ford of Ocala Pure Stocks and this one would set the tone for an interesting evening as Bobby Carter, driving the only Ford in the field, led most of the way to score his first win. Mike Fiddia did all he could to unseat Carter from the top spot, but Carter kept his “Big Blue” Torino out front to the checker then nearly flattened the roof of the car dancing on it in victory lane. Fiddia held off J.T. Schimborski for second while Darren Dukes crossed the line in fourth and was crowned Pure Stock Champion. Michael Rosa was fifth followed by Rick Hart, Paul Fletcher, Rick Bass and Bobby Valeo. Just four points seperated Bob Masciarelli and Pete Close, Jr. going into the final Saturday night of racing in the Steven A. Bagen Sportsman class and the two drivers would start from the front row in their quest for the crown. It wasn’t Masciarelli’s night as he got hung out on the intial start, then got caught up in a tangle that forced his car pitside for the remainder of the event. Close fended off the challenges of Kenny Abney to take the win and an apparent points title until third finishing Tom Posavec told track officials he had the money in hand for a complete teardown of Close’s machine. Close’s Camaro was found illegal in tech thus handing the evening’s win to Abney and the points championship to a stunned Masciarelli. Posavec moved up to second after the disqualification with William Edwards third ahead of Big John Smith and Frank Buchanan. Michael Mennenga, Gary Wayne Crouthamel, Jim Higginbotham, Masciarelli, and Jeremy Finegan rounded out the top ten. The large crowd on hand was treated to a dazzling performance by the TBARA Winged Outlaw Sprint Cars. Due to the lateness of the hour, the Sprints were the only class to run heats. Paul Madden looked strong in winning his 8-lapper while Shane Butler blasted through the field to claim heat two making both drivers eligible for the $300 Barfield Gift Fruit “Clean-Sweep” award put up by Lee and Jeff Barfield to any driver who can win both his heat and feature. Rookie Scotty Adema, who spent a good amount of time during the rain delay chatting with fans in the stands and signing autographs, grabbed the early lead with Madden racing him hard for the top spot. On lap three, Madden’s engine came unglued coating much of the track with oil and forcing a lengthy caution. At this point popular Dude Teate pulled his sprinter two the infield with problems and was out of the running. Keith Butler had spun in the oil and stalled his machine, so he was put in the rear of the field for the restart per TBARA rules. Adema got the jump on the restart, but Jimmy Alvis had something break on his car and it shot left across the frontstretch collecting points leader Wayne Reutimann, Sr. in the process. Reutimann did a fantastic job steering his car through the wet infield and was able to continue while Alvis retired to the pits. Adema had the field covered on the restart, pulling out to a big advantage as the crowd was focused on the Butler brothers as Shane was quickly headed to the front and Keith was slicing his way back through the field. David Slawiak spun on lap nine to bring out the caution allowing the now-running-second Shane Butler to move up on Adema. Two laps later, Shane blasted by Adema into the lead while his brother Keith eventually worked his way to second, although by the time he did, he was nearly a half-lap behind. Keith Butler’s charge would come to a grinding halt on lap 21 when the driveline broke on his car with the shaft slamming into his seat and leg. Keith was assisted from the car but refused help from paramedics, preferring to “walk off” his injury. Keith would continue that walk to victory circle as his Brother Shane easily took the win and the Barfield bonus as well. It was Shane Butler’s second consecutive win at Ocala. Bo Hartley had a great run grabbing second spot in the legendary 3X car with Adema holding on for third and Reutimann coming back from his infield excursion to place fourth just ahead of Gary Gimmler. Matt Mercer, David Slawiak, Bill Pettijohn, Keith Butler, and Sonny Hartley rounded out the top ten. All David Baxley had to do was start the Diamond H Air & Heat Modified feature to claim the points title. Baxley not only started, but finished second in the 15-lap main event as well. But no one would catch Alan McCafferty on this night as he drove to his second straight win with relative ease. Shane Nichols had a super run to get third ahead of Marlon Durbin and John Foerg. Troy Robinson, Mike Wilson. and Rick Brewer completed the field. The final run for the Thrifty Nickel Want Ads Hobby Stocks was another barn-burner with Tommy Roberts coming out on top for the second week in a row following a good race with Moose Alderman. Alderman would hold off Frank Buchanan for second with Paul Gladdin and Jamie Dunn rounding out the top five. Finishing sixth through tenth were Tom Fralisch, David Danielson, Harold Edwards, Chauna Johnston, and Paul Fletcher. John Betts was involved in an early-race crash but still claimed the Hobby Stock points title and was presented a special plaque in victory lane by Thrifty Nickel. The calculators were put to work at the end of the Coca-Cola Four Cylinder Bomber feature to see who was the champion of the class. After Ric Fort smashed the radiator of his car in a grinding crash early in the race, he was forced to sit, watch, and hope that A.J. Schreier would not win the feature. When it was determined Fort had a 16th place finish in the books, calculations showed that Schreier would win the title by one point if he could win the race. That would not be the case however as Rocky Bowden led all but one lap to take the win. A late caution would prove Schreier’s undoing as his engine went sour relegating him to a fourth place finish behind Bowden, Dan Sanderson, and Joey Durbin. Completing the top ten were Mike Hillary, Richard Kuhn, Tom Ellis, Kurtis Mitchell, Tim Burr, and Dennis Harden. All eyes will be on Ocala Speedway this coming Friday night with the Grand Reopening featuring the return of the Super Late Model, and Modified Mini Stocks. Also on the card are the Modifieds, Sportsman, Four Cylinder Bombers, and the new Street Stock class which will combine cars from the former Hobby and Pure Stock divisions. Racing starts at 8PM.