Rookie Karlin Ray takes 2nd win of 2012
Karlin Rayís rookie season in the Citrus County Speedway Pure Stock division has been up and down. While the young driver has shown he has the speed to contend, he had lacked the consistency to run up front. Combine that with some mid season motor problems, and any other rookie may have let that shake their confidence. Saturday night, Ray would return with his new power plant for the first time since his first feature win ever in May. After coming away victorious in his heat race, Ray (72) benefited from the two row feature inversion, starting in the 3rd position for the 20 lap Pure Stock feature. Sheri Makula (27) would jump to the early lead from her pole position and look to run away from the field. Ray would waste no time going to work on the leader, making the pass to take over the top spot by lap 4. Behind the two leaders the battle for third was heated, Chris Ickes (20) held that position until a host of cars moved by in a few short laps. James Johnston (45) settled into the 3rd position, but soon faced pressure from front runner Eugene Malverty (123). Malverty would make contact with the rear of Johnstonís car entering turn one, sending Johnston into the turn one wall, and the caution flying at lap 18. Malverty had been warned about his aggressive driving tactics earlier in the evening, and was disqualified for his part in the accident. Johnston would be returned to the 3rd position for the restart with only 2 laps remaining. Up front, Ray would have to survive a green-white-checkered finish to take the win on the restart. Ray got a good restart and pulled away immediately, behind him, sparks were flying again. This time is was the younger Malverty, Nicholas (17) who would also make contact with Johnston. Johnston would again see his car sent into the turn 1 wall after being hit from behind by Malverty. Ray would go on to take an impressive victory, and pick up his 2nd feature win of the 2012 season. Makula would come home an unchallenged 2nd, with Randy Spicer (22) crossing the line in 3rd. After the dust had settled, Nicholas Malverty was also disqualified for rough driving, like his father earlier in the race. Track officials also decided to award the 3rd position to Johnston, instead of Spicer. Karlin Ray is the son of long time Central Florida racers Robert and Kathy Ray, and it certainly seems that the apple did not fall far from the tree.
19 Sportsman saw Mark Peterson (73) and Patrick Thomas (25) battle side by side for the lead in the first 5 laps of the feature. Thomas took the high side, but couldnít quite clear Peterson to take the lead. As the leaders entered turn 3 on lap 5, Peterson would get sideways inside of Thomas entering the corner. Peterson would go for a spin, and be sent to the rear for the restart. The race would go back green with Thomas leading, Mike Bell (17) 2nd, and George Gorham Jr (10) 3rd. Lap 20 would see the next caution for contact between Bell and Gorham, which sent Bells bright blue racer for a spin. Gorham would ultimately take blame for the incident, giving Bell his spot back, and sending himself to the rear. Thomas would drive away on the restart, and go on to take his first feature win of 2012 at Citrus County Speedway. Bell would come home in the 2nd position, with Travis Hoefler having his best run of the year in 3rd. Bell and Andy Nichols (66) were your heat race winners.
12 Open Wheel Modifieds spent the whole night chasing Josh Todd (289) in their 40 lap feature. Todd rocketed to the lead early from his outside front row starting position, and never looked back. Behind him, 4th place starter and defending track champion Doug Miller (53), battled hard on the outside for the first few laps of the event. Eventually Miller would move to the 2nd spot, and tried to run down the leader. A late race caution would bunch up the field, and give Miller, and the third runner Herb Neumann Jr (01) a shot at the win. Todd would leave no doubt on the restart, and go on to take his first feature win of 2012 at Citrus. Miller would come home a solo 2nd with Neumann in 3rd. Miller and L.J. Grimm were your heat race winners.
The Street Stock feature was the most competitive race of the night. Dora Thorne (48) lead them to green, but James Peters (5) would make quick work of the early leader, moving to the top of the field. Peters would bring Jason Garver (12) with him to the 2nd position. Behind them, the battle for third raged between Bubba Martone (98) and Curtis Flanagan (33). Flanagan had lost the motor in his usual #3 machine in the heat race, and jumped in Bill Ryanís #33 for the feature event. Flanagan would make his way to 3rd, and then by Garver for 2nd. Flanagan then set his sights on the leader Peters, and went to work. Lap 14 saw the only caution of the event for debris on the track, which reset the field for the green. Peters lead, with Flanagan 2nd, and Garver 3rd. Once back to green, Flanagan made his move on Peters, and took over the top spot with only 2 laps left. His lead was short lived as his unfamiliar machine jumped sideways on the entry to turn 3. This allowed Peters to duck back underneath and run side by side for the lead. The top 4 cars ran side by side, nose to tail for the final 2 laps with Peters coming out on top of the firestorm. Garver would slip by Flanagan for 2nd at the checkers. Kenny May (10) was your heat race winner, but suffered a blown engine helping dry the track after a rain shower at intermission.
Jeff Eberly took the victory in a rain shortened Mini Stock feature. Eberly moved to the lead early before the rain cut the Mini Stock feature short after 17 laps. Jeremy Sharrone come home 2nd with Shawn Jenkins (43) coming home 3rd. Sharrone and Tim Scalise (24) were your heat race winners.
Mike Endee (26) survived 5 cautions to take the victory in the Outlaw Modifed Min feature. Following him to the line were Doug Hopper (15) in 2nd, and Cody Allen (6) in 3rd.
This Saturday night the Citrus County Speedway will be back in action with a full race card headlined by the Super Late Models. Joining them will be the Modified Mini Stock, Street Stock, Pure Stock, Figure 8ís, Hornets, and the Southeast Champ Kart Series. Gates open at 4pm, and racing starts at 6:30 pm sharp!