Grimm outruns Open Wheel Modified field at Citrus County Speedway
Citrus County Speedway fans were treated to an excellent race program, and a pit area with 114 cars this past Saturday night. The night got started off with time trial qualifying for the Open Wheel Modified division, to help set the field for their 75 lap feature event. After all 25 drivers took their best of 2 laps, Richie Smith (289) was the man to beat with a fast lap of 14.28 sec, following him in 2nd was the 61 of Wayne “Rocket man” Jefferson, and L J Grimm (25) in 3rd. After the fan determined 3 row invert for the feature, the front row would be occupied by Kyle Maynard (127) and Curtis Neumann (01). Maynard would see his night end early with steering damaged suffered in the warm up laps for the feature took the green. This would move the inside row up, and now put Grimm on the pole position. At the drop of the green the top two drivers would race door to door before Neumann would find the traction he needed to power to the lead in the outside lane. Smith had settled into the third position on the start, and soon put the pressure on Grimm for 2nd. Smith would move make an inside move on Grimm for 2nd, and sneak by to take the runner up spot. Smith then set his sights on the leader Neumann, and challenge for the lead by lap 12. Smith would again take to the inside lane, forcing Neumann to the high side, where he was slowed by lapped traffic. Smith would use the lapped cars to his advantage, and take the lead away at lap 13. Neumann would fall all the way to the 4th position before he could get back in line behind the leaders. Lap 18 saw the first caution of the night for a spin involving Robbie Cooper (98) and Jefferson while battling just inside the top 10. Both drivers would be sent to the rear for the restart. Smith would lead on the restart, with Grimm in 2nd, and Josh Todd (11) taking over 3rd. Grimm would go to work on Smith on the restart, moving to the outside of the leader. Grimm would make it work on the high side, moving back to the lead at lap 20, getting by Smith. For the next 42 laps, the top two cars wouldn’t be separated by more than a few inches as they continued the battle for the win. Grimm would hold off Smiths numerous challenges to retake the lead on the inside, as he ran a slightly higher line through the corners. It looked like these two would settle the winner between each other, but lapped traffic would change the running order at lap 62. As the leaders reached heavy traffic, 3rd running Todd would close the gap on the leaders, and suddenly found himself in contention for the win. Smith would be forced to check up for a lapped car off of turn 4, which allowed Todd to time him perfectly, and race by to take the 2nd position. Smith would not give up that easy, as he raced hard back to the rear bumper of Todd. While racing for 2nd, Smith and Todd would make contact which sent Todd for a spin and the caution flying. Smith would take blame for the incident, giving Todd back the 2nd spot, and sending himself to the rear of the lead lap. Grimm would pull away over the final 13 laps, and take the victory in one of the most exciting races in recent history. Todd would come home 2nd, with Neumann finishing 3rd. Kyle Bookmiller would drive from 14th to 4th at the checkers, just ahead of Smith who drove back to 5th in only 13 laps.
23 TBARA winged sprint cars roared to the green with Dude Teate (0) and David “Superman” Steele (33) on the front row. Steele would take control of the race from the drop of the green, and began to lap cars at a torrid pace. Lap 14 saw one of the nights scariest incidents as Johnny Gilbert Jr (7) would take a wild ride down the backstretch after making contact with another car. Gilbert Jr would get airborne halfway down the backstretch, and then make heavy contact with the turn 3 wall, bringing out the red flag. Gilbert Jr would walk away from the violet crash, but the same could not be said for his racing machine. Steele would survive 2 more late race cautions, and go on to take a dominating victory. Coming home 2nd was a hard charging Mickey “Smooth Operator” Kempgens (5), and Teate Surviving to take 3rd.
13 Sportsman watched Mike Bell (17) take a wire to wire victory from his pole position, to log his 1st feature win of 2012. Andy Nichols (66), coming fresh off his victory Friday night at Orlando Speedworld, would come home a solid 2nd position, just ahead of Craig “Hollywood” Cuzzone (88) in 3rd.
13 Street Stocks didn’t even make it past the green flag before 3 cars were in a mangled mess in the front stretch wall. Pole sitter Jared Stokes (99) would get crossed up coming to the green, and Kenny May (10) would make contact with the rear of Stokes racer. Both cars would slide back across the track and make contact the 92 of Robert Kuhn Jr, sending him hard into the outside wall. The field was reset for a complete restart, minus the three wrecked cars involved. Point leader Bubba Martone (98) would launch from his outside front row starting position, taking the lead away from pole sitter James Peters (5) by lap 2. 9th starter John Makula would quickly move to the front, and move by Peters for the 2nd spot by lap 6. Caution would fly at lap 7 for a spin involving Dora Thorne (33), and Paul Fletcher (74), which tightened up the field for a restart. Martone would lead, but now had a mirror full of Makula. Martone would pull away, and looked to be headed to an easy victory. 10th place starter Curtis Flanagan (3) would race his way to 3rd, getting by Peters, and then challenge Makula for the 2nd spot near the halfway mark. Martone was out front and cruising when the mechanical gremlins would get a hold of his racer, forcing him to fade to the back of the pack. This now left Makula as your new leader, and he had his hands full with a hard charging Flanagan. Lap 22 would see this race again take and unexpected turn as the two leaders would make contact several times down the front stretch, Makula would end up making heavy front contact with a dirt mound in turn 1, and Flanagan would spin to the infield. Makula was done for the night, and Flanagan was sent to the rear for the restart. Mike Wilson (79), fresh off his victory in the Frank Stromquist memorial just a few weeks ago, now found himself as the new leader. Wilson would survive the final 3 laps and go on to take his 2nd win in a row for 2012. Peters would come home 2nd, with Flanagan racing back to 3rd by the checkers.
12 Pure Stocks saw 15 year old Karlin Ray (72) race his way from the last row to battle for the lead with only a few laps remaining. Ray would have a spirited battle with Eugene Malverty (0) from lap 19-22, which saw both drivers swap paint aggressively while they battled for the lead. Ray would eventually prevail, taking his 4th feature win of 2012. Carl Peters (39) would have a shot at victory with a late race caution, but settled for 2nd at the checkers. Happy Florian (65) rallied for a 3rd place finish, which allowed him to retake the point lead from Nicholas Malverty (17), who suffered transmission problems in the feature.
The Mini Stock division watched Jeremy Sharrone (32) pit early for a flat tire after contact with Jeff Eberly (01). Sharrone would then march towards the front, and inherit the lead after Shannon Kennedy (20) lost power while leading. Sharrone would go on to take his 12th feature win of 2012, followed by Jesse Mallory (50) in 2nd, and Kevin Knox (77) in 3rd.
Thomas Peet lead the Street Stock figure 8 feature from green to checkers to take his 2nd feature win of the season. Travis Nichols (51) would charge from last to 2nd at the checkers in this caution free event. Jimmy Kruse (82) would run a steady 3rd, which allowed him to clinch the 2012 division points championship.
Mark Landis (56) out rand Paul White (25) to win the Pro Challenge feature with J L Snowden (1) coming home 3rd.
This Saturday night will be the annual Trick or Treat event at the speedway. Bring out the kids for a safe night of fun with your favorite drivers and their cars on the speedway. Their will be costume contest for different age groups, and the drives will be handing out candy and treats from their cars on the track. The Super Late Models, Mod Mini, Street Stock, Pure Stock, Figure 8, and DAARA cars will all be on the race program. The nights festivities get underway at 5:30, make sure to get there early for a good seat!