Gorham Jr and Darvalics Top 50 Lappers at Citrus County Speedway
Citrus County Speedway fans were treated to a pit area filled with 96 cars and 180 laps of racing action Saturday night. Headlining the nights events were the Florida United Pro-Truck series and Sportsman 50 lap feature events. The nights events got started with qualifying for the Sportsman and Pro-Truck divisions. 19 Sportsman and 22 Pro-Trucks took their best shot at the time clock. When the dust settled, Patrick Thomas (25) turned in a blistering 14.35 second lap to take the fast qualifier money in the Sportsman division, and Steve Darvalics (41) took top honors for the Pro-Trucks with a fast lap of 14.83 seconds.
After qualifying, the top 12 qualifiers for the Sportsman race would draw pills for their starting positions for the 50 lap feature. 8th qualifier Dennis Neighbor Sr (83) would have lady luck on his side and draw the pole position, starting alongside would be 4th fast qualifier George Gorham Jr (10). Fast qualifier Thomas would draw the 9th starting position, and find himself fighting his way to the front from the middle of the pack. Gorham would take control of the race at the green flag, beating Neighbor Sr to turn one. Gorham Jr would pull out to a comfortable lead while everyone else was left chasing the leader. Lap 7 saw Patrick Thomas charge the front come to an end, contact with another car would send Thomas spinning to the infield. Caution would fly, and Thomas would retire with a broken rear gear. Gorham Jr would survive 3 more late race cautions to take a wire to wire victory in his Billy Barstow owned machine. Behind Gorham Jr, 4th place starter Mike Bell (17) ran a distant 2nd for the last 43 laps of the event after qualifying in the 5th position. Coming home in the 3rd position was 2nd fast qualifier Lance Daubach. Point leader Jay Witfoth was the biggest mover of the race, coming from his 17th starting position, to a 6th place finish at the checkered flag. Witfoth has now increased his points lead to 27pts over 2nd place Chris Harvey (51), and 32pts over 3rd place Andy Nichols (66).
19 Pro-Trucks were brought to the green by pole sitter Jessica Murphy (26) and Jason Rendell (5). Rendell would jump out to the early lead, and pull away until a lap 9 caution would bunch up the field for a restart. Pro-Trucks series rules call for double file restarts, just like the NASCAR boys. Rendell would chose the bottom lane, flanking him to the outside was the new 2nd place runner, and 5th fasted qualifier, J R Garcia (13). Rendell would spin his tires badly on the restart, and Garcia would sneak by on the outside to take the lead. 4th place starter Gerald Campbell (2x) would soon pressure Rendell, and take away the 2nd position. Lap 17 saw the next caution for a 3 truck incident, and erase the lead Garcia had built. Garcia would jump out to the lead on the restart, followed closely by Campbell, and fast qualifier Darvalics (41) in 3rd. Garcia would maintain a comfortable lead on the restart, while Campbell now faced heavy pressure from Darvalics. Darvalics would finally find the traction he needed, and move my Campbell for the 2nd spot with only 10 laps remaining in the 50 lap event. Garcia would prove to tough to catch, and go on to take an apparent victory ahead of Darvalics in 2nd, and Campbell in 3rd. Once the top 5 trucks reached post race technical inspection, Garcia was found to have an illegal crankshaft in his motor, which resulted in his disqualification from the nights events. With all other top 5 trucks passing inspection, Darvalics was award the victory with slightly less fan fare in the tech area. This would also move Campbell to 2nd, and Danny Anderson (50) to 3rd.
11 Street Stocks saw Curtis Flanagan (3) move by Dora Thorne (48) for the lead on lap 5 from his 5th starting position. Behind Flanagan, Thorne, Kenny May (10) and Bubba Martone (98) would battle it out for the 2nd through 4th positions. When the checkers would fly, Thorne would hold on to the 2nd position, and Martone would make a last lap pass to take the 3rd position over May. Joey Bifaro (121) and John Chance (61) were your heat race winners.
15 Pure Stocks saw Karlin Ray (72) jump out to early lead from his front row starting position. 5th place starter Michael Martin (76) would move quickly to the 2nd position, followed by Eugene Malvern (123) in 3rd. Ray was out front cruising when lapped traffic pinched him into the front stretch wall at lap 16. The break in momentum allowed 2nd place Martin and 3rd place Malverty to move by Ray for the lead on the inside. Lap 18 saw the battle for the lead get a little rough as Malverty would make contact with the rear of Martins machine exiting turn 4. Martin would go for a spin, and the caution would fly. Malverty would take blame for the incident, giving Martin the lead back, and sending himself to the rear of the pack. Martin would now have to survive a 2 lap shootout over the young and hungry Ray, and new 3rd place runner Tyler Stickler (9). Martin brought the field to green, and Ray went to work right way, making an inside pass off turn 2 to retake the lead. Ray seemed to be head to his first ever feature win, but the last lap saw a chain of unlikely events. As the field took the white flag, Mike Hinde (142) spun near the rear of the pack in turn two, with the leaders coming to the checkers, the caution was displayed with the checkers just yards from the finish line. Ray would then also spin to the infield after the caution had been thrown, but everyone raced back to the finish line. It appeared that Tyler Stickler (9) was your winner after all of the last lap chaos. Cars exited the speedway, thinking the race was over. Track official decided the caution was out before the leader took the checkered flag, and ordered the cars to realign for a one lap shootout. Ray would be your leader, followed by Martin in 2nd, and Stickler in 3rd. Ray would rocket away on the restart, and go on to take his first ever feature victory at Citrus County Speedway. Stickler would get by Martin on the last lap for 2nd, with Martin settling for 3rd at the stripe. Malverty and Hinde were your heat race winners.
15 Mini Stocks saw Jeremy Sharrone (32) move by Shannon Kennedy (46) for the lead on lap 11 of their 20 lap feature. Sharrone would go on to take his 6th feature win of the 2012 season. Kennedy would hold onto 2nd just ahead of a hard charging Austin Jenkins (43) in 3rd. Heat race winners were Kennedy and Kristin Clements (5).
14 Pro Figure 8’s all challenged the dangerous intersection for their 20 lap feature. Michael Cherry (1) would take his new ride to the early lead, followed closely by Eric Sharrone (32). Sharrone would put pressure on Cherry for the lead, and looked to have the fastest car on the speedway. Sharrone would attempt an inside pass for the lead heading into turn 3, but the top two drivers would run out of room entering the corner. Sharrone would make contact with Cherry, and spin to the infield. With neither driver wanting to take blame, both were sent to the rear for the restart. This left 7th place starter Wayne Calkins (14) in the lead, with Cody Stickler (25) in 2nd, followed by Justin Meyer in 3rd. On the restart Calkins would pull away, and Stickler would suffer a flat right front tire, which caused him to drop out of contention. Behind Calkins, Joey Catarelli had made his way to the 2nd position, just ahead of Thomas Peet (85) in 3rd. Calkins would receive no real challenge over the final 6 laps, and went on to take his 1st feature win of 2012, following up his 2011 division championship. Catarelli would come home a solo 2nd just ahead of Peet in 3rd.
This week will see the return of Super Late Models to Citrus County Speedway. With the Florida United Promoters late model series coming to town on June 2nd, you can bet some of the states hot shoes will be in town to tune up for the 100 lap event. Joining the Super Late Models will be the Modified Mini Stocks, Street Stocks, Pure Stocks, Hornets, and the Street Stock figure 8’s. Come on out and enjoy a great night of racing action at your local speedway!