Gilbertson out duels Butler for TBARA win at Citrus County Speedway
Citrus County Speedway fans packed the grandstands to see the first TBARA sprint car show in nearly two years Saturday night. 18 winged outlaw sprints cars thundered to the green flag for the start of their 30 lap feature. The green flag wasn’t out for long, lap three would see the first of 2 cautions on the night. Contact between Jimmy Alvis Jr (21) and Mickey Kempgens (75) in turn 4 sent Kempgens racers hard into the concrete retaining wall, bringing out the red flag. Kempgens needed a few moments to catch his breath after the hard impact, as he sat against the turn 4 wall while being looked over by the EMT staff. Alvis Jr came away uninjured, but the same could not be said for his machine. Once the cars came back to life, Shane Butler (18) would lead the field back to the green flag, but caution would wave again for contact between John Gilbert Jr. (7) and Mark Gimmler (51). Gilbert would be done for the night with front end damage, Gimmler would continue. Butler would once again lead on the restart, but was under heavy pressure from Johnny Gilbertson (22) from the drop of the green. Gilbertson would make the pass for the lead and try to run away from the field. The final 22 laps would be run under the green with Gilbertson running away to an unchallenged victory. Coming home a distant second place was Shane Butler, followed by Larry Brazil Jr (2) in 3rd. Heat race winners were Dude Teate (9), Alvis Jr., and Stan Butler (81).
14 Open wheel modifieds took the green for their 40 lap feature event. Jeremy Gerstner (35) and Wayne Morris (198) would see the nights 5 row inversion put them on the front row for the start. Gerstner and Morris would race side by side for the 1st 5 laps, before Morris would finally drive by for the lead on the outside. The first of 8 cautions came at lap 7 for Wayne Jefferson (61), who had come to a stop on the front stretch. Jefferson was able to get his car going once the yellow flag was waived. This race was slowed by many mid race cautions, shuffling the field several times. Jefferson, who had gone to the rear at lap 7, had benefited from all the yellow. He was able to climb is way back into the top by lap 25. Jefferson would put on a driving clinic over the final 5 laps, passing Morris for the lead at lap 26, and going on to take an unlikely victory. Because of the multiple cautions in the event, the race was shortened to 30 laps. Morris would hold on to the 2nd position over a hard charging Scott Millar (20) in 3rd. Point leader Tommy Schnader (19) was unable to take the green flag with a mechanical failure. 2012 division champion Doug Miller (53) moved to the points lead on his 4th place feature finish.
22 Sportsman cars put on one of the best races of the night. Mike Bresnahan (69) would benefit from the inversion, and start on the front row along side Austin Carr (81). The full field of cars would take the green flag, but a lap 1 incident involving Andy Nichols (66) would result in a complete restart. Bresnahan would take command from the drop of the green flag, and tried to run away from the field. 4th place starter Cody Stickler (99) had other ideas though. Stickler would benefit from some mid race lapped traffic to close to the rear bumper of Bresnahan for the final 10 laps of the race. Stickler had the faster car, but faced a tough challenge getting by the multi-time track champion. Stickler was able to get the inside line on Bresnahan 3 times, but Bresnahan was able to battle back on the outside each time. Lapped traffic caused major problems for the leaders over the final few laps, with lapped cars running high and low on the track. Stickler would make one last charge with 2 laps to go, but Bresnahan would hold on to take his 2nd victory of the 2012 season. Stickler came home a strong 2nd, with Aaron Williamson coming from his 6th starting position to take 3rd. Jay Witfoth (4), Tom Posavec (01), and Devin McLeod (121) were your heat race winners. Witfoth combined his heat win with a 7th place finish in the feature to move to the top of the division points standings.
14 Mini Stocks spent 17 laps chasing Tim Scalise for the win. Scalise moved quickly to the front from his 4th starting position. 3rd place starter Shannon Kennedy (46) would catch Scalise, and pour on the pressure for the lead. Behind the two front runners, Jeremy Sharrone (32) was charging through the field from his 11th starting position. Sharrone would join the battle for the lead at lap 17, and the race was on. Scalise would lose the handle on his car, as Kennedy would move by for the lead, and bring Sharrone with him. Kennedy and Sharrone would battle over the final 2 laps for the checkers. Kennedy would have just enough to hold off the faster Sharrone, and take his 2nd feature win of the 2012 season. Sharrone would come home 2nd with Scalise holding out for 3rd. Scalise and Jay Curry (3) were your heat race winners.
13 Pure Stocks saw Kenny May (10) launch his racer from the outside front row to the lead at the drop of the green. May continued to lead until lap 7, when 5th place starter Carl Peters (39) would move by for the lead, bringing Mike Autenrieth (32) by to take the 2nd position. The top two drivers would survive 3 mid race cautions to stay out front and in contention for the win. Peters would cross the line as the leader when the field took the white flag. But contact between Peters and Autenrieth in turn 2 would send Peters racer for a spin, Autenrieth would take blame for the incident. Normally that would have given Peters back his position, but because he got out of his car under the yellow flag, he had to restart at the rear of the field. All of this drama left pole sitter Nicholas Malverty (17) back in the lead for a one lap shootout. Malverty would have to hold off the charge of early race leader May, and the now 3rd place Happy Florian. Malverty proved to be up to the challenge, and would go on to take his 3rd feature win of 2012. May would come home 2nd, with Tyler Stickler moving by Florian for 3rd at the line. In post race inspection, Mays racer was found to be under the minimum weight for the division, which resulted in his disqualification. This moved Stickler to 2nd, and Florian back to 3rd.
10 Dwarf cars saw Chris McClelland (98) hold off Stan Butler (3) in their 25 lap feature event. McClelland moved to the lead on lap 2 and never looked back. Butler came home in the 2nd position, followed by Rick Lundeen (04) in 3rd. McClelland was also your heat race winner.
This week the speedway will welcome back the Super Late Models, Modified Mini Stock, Street Stock, Mini Stock, Hornets, and the Southeast Champ Karts. Gates open at 4pm, and racing takes the green at 6:30. Set the DVR to tape Darlington, and come out and enjoy some great short track racing at your local speedway!