by Scott Lockwood
The long awaited regular season opener at Desoto Speedway saw a packed house treated to an action packed night of racing that saw Scott Hogan claim the Pro Truck “King of the Blacktop” title and Devin McLeod take the Florida Modified Invitational 100.
In the Q Auto and Injury Attorneys Desoto Pro Truck main event, Hogan started on the pole and grabbed the lead at the start of the opening 50-lap segment from Jeff Guilbault and Steve Darvalics. He held a slim lead when the caution flew for Cameron Cruse’s spin in turn one just after the field completed 11 laps.
Hogan withstood a series of challenges on a rash of restarts over the next 14 laps. Darvalics made a move for the lead and had just cleared Hogan before the caution flew at the halfway point – meaning that Hogan would keep the lead for the next restart – a restart that saw four trucks eliminated in a crash as the field came to the green flag.
Darvalics and Danny Anderson took shots at Hogan for the lead, but Hogan held on to win the segment. After a 5-minute break, Hogan led every lap of a caution-free, 30-lap second segment.
That set up a 20-lap showdown between Hogan and Darvalics at the front of the field. Darvalics made one last-ditch effort coming into turn three on the final lap, but Hogan got the run coming off the final corner to finish the sweep.
“Steve is always really fast here so it was huge to stay in front of him,” Hogan said. “He had me a couple of times, but it worked out really well for us.”
Dean Butrum finished third, with Chad Chastain and Anderson rounding out the top five.
A strong field of some of the state’s best drivers were on hand for the Florida State Modified Invitational. For the first 70 laps Doug Moff led a four-car freight train with Cody Stickler, Devin McLeod and Josh Todd directly in tow.
Stickler, who won four races during the World Series of Asphalt at New Smyrna Speedway earlier this month, made several attempts to get the lead but was unable to finish the pass on Moff.
With 25 laps to go Stickler slid high in turn one, allowing McCleod and Todd to get by. Five laps later, Todd and McLeod got together getting into turn three. McLeod was able to continue with no damage while Todd was sent to the rear for causing the spin.
McLeod lined up outside of Moff for the final restart with 10 laps to go. The pair raced side-by-side for three laps until McLeod finally cleared Moff as the field completed the 93rd lap. McLeod set sail from the rest of the pack and drove on to the win.
“That was probably the best race I’ve ever driven in my life,” McLeod said in victory lane. “We rode behind Stickler for all those laps and I was surprised he didn’t pull the trigger a little sooner. It all played out like it was supposed to.”
Moff held off Stickler for second. Wayne Jefferson drove from sixth to fourth in the final lap. D.J. Hoelzle rounded out the top five.
Jeff Firestine controlled the early stages of the 25-lap Take Aim Gun Range Street Stock feature. As the field came to the halfway point of the race, contact between Codey Benoit and Jarrett Cornell sent Cornell into the wall and brought out the caution.
Benoit was allowed to keep his spot and was able to pounce on Firestine to take the lead immediately after the restart. Ander Jackson quickly worked his way up to second but ran out of time to catch the leader as Benoit took the victory. Firestine finished third.
In other action Saturday night, Laura Mammina led from flag-to-flag to take the 25-lap Mini Stock feature; Darrin Ellis withstood an early challenge from Lee Davis and went on to a flag-to-flag victory in the 25-lap Pep Boys Speed Shop Modified Mini feature; Blaine Baer won the 25-lap Pure Stock feature; and Carl Thompson won the 25-lap Bomber feature.
Next week’s card at Desoto Speedway will feature the Southern Sprint Car Shootout Series, TQ Midgets, the King of the Blacktop for the Desoto Sportsman, Street Stocks, Pure Stocks, Modified Minis, Mini Stocks, Bombers and Outlaw Modifieds.
DESOTO SPEEDWAY RACE RESULTS
Open Wheel Modified
1. 21 Devin McLeod Zephyrhills
2. 46 Doug Moff Doug Moff Ft. Myers
3. 99 Cody Strckler Pinellas
4. 1 Wayne Jefferson Pinellas Park
5. 8. D. J. Hoezle Palm Harbor
6. 7 Josh Todd Polk City
7. 25 L. J. Grimm Seffner
8. 42 Richie Smith Hernandez
9. 54 Brandon Thompson Seminole
10. 75 Bobby Blake Lake County
11. 12 Eric Rudd Naples
12. 84 Rob Haywood Bradenton
13. 00 Shawn Harper Winter Haven
14. 16 Jeff Firestine Venice
15. V1 Terry Vaughn Arcadia
1. 12 Scott Hogan Naples
2. 41 Steve Darvalics Venice
3. 32 Dean Butrum Venice
4. 36 Chad Chastain Alva
5. 50 Danny Anderson Bradenton
6. 28 Corey Bigley Naples
7. 66 Scott McKay Bradenton
8. 42 Jeff Guilbault North Port
9. . 22 Cameron Cruse Sarasota
10. 99 Cody Martell Arcadia
11. 59x Becca Monopoli Lakeland
12. 67 Jimmie Best Sarasota
13. 27 Tim Ryan Miami
14. 3 Duane Best Myakka
15. 17 Dan Lautner Michigan
16. 44 Chase Lovelady Lakeland
17. 52 Joe Winchell Dade City
18. 38 Taylor Moxley West Palm Beach
19. 63 Andy Whitled Sarasota
20. 75 Robert St. John Arcadia
21. 2d David Patterson North
22. 38 Jeremy Goddard Naples
23. 5 Richard Griffis West Palm
24. 14 Sam Scott Naples D.N.S.
1. X Cody Benoit Ft Myers
2. 91 Ander Jackson Punta Gorda
3. 93 Jeff Firestine Venice
4. 45 Mike Karrivan Myakka
5. 11 Travis Barfield Myakka
6. 3 Jeff Dufrense Bradenton
7. 9 Danny Daniels Jr. Lehigh
8. 5 Eric Willis Citrus County
9. 40 Scott Finch Bradenton
10. 98 Cody Allen Lehigh
11. 27 Chris Oliver
12. 75 Garrett Thompson Bradenton
13. 1 Tyler Lau Bradenton
14. 51 Jarrett Cornell Cape Coral
15. 33 Ronnie Brock Jr. Sebring
16. 42 Dennis Wilson
17. 23 Todd Brown Bushnell
18. 01 Bobby Diestler Inverness
19. 63 Kyle Best Myakka
1 . 7b Blane Baer Port Charlotte
2. 33 Chris Loney Naplles
3. 99 Wayne Jefferson Pinellas Park
4. 3b Sherry Best Myakka
5. 74 Paul Hufstaler Bradenton
6. 72 Roger Dufrense Bradenton
7. 7k Dennis Koselak Bradenton
8.67Jimmie Best Sarasota
9. 27 Gerald Fossa Bradenton
10. 9 Mike Bialacki Arcadiaq
11. 3t Terry Price Port Charlotte
12. 8 Shane Leonard Cape Coral
1. 75 Carl Thompson Aburndale
2 123 Brandon Duchscherer Aburndale
3. 24Jeff Poncheco Port Charlotte
4. 57 Aaron Holmes Auburndale
5. 12 Doug Bradley
6. 23b Adam Briggs Lakeland
7. 42 Bubba Edwards Aburndale
8. 22 Ann Marie Ricardi
9. 53 Brandon Martin Bartow
10. 15. Clint Snyder North Port
11. 23g Kenny Gibson Venice
12. 10 Mark Palmer Winter Haven
1. 72 Darrin Ellis
2. 77d Lee Davis
3. 4d Donnie Powers
4. 6 Dave Davis
5. 17 Brad Blanton
6. 77r Rachelle Rudolph
1. 77 Laura Mammia North Port
2. 005 Ronnie Anderson Bradenton
3.37 Todd Wozniak
4. 99 Johnny Marra Punta Gorda
5. 10 Kristen Mithalter North Port
6. 008 Ren Wright St. Pete
7. 37 Jerry Groves Venice