By Jim Rouse, BRP Media (9-10-12) Ocala, FL – This week-end’s 2-day show is the 2nd annual PJ Wiggins Memorial. Wiggins was an outstanding race-car driver but was, and still is, a great father figure to his children and even children who watched him win with a smooth and graceful technique; more importantly, he was always a very thankful man. A victim to skin cancer, he is sorely missed in the racing community so we honor him with the 2nd annual PJ Wiggins Memorial for the Scorpion Racing Products Open-Wheel Modifieds. Racing alongside them Friday night will be the Buddy’s Home Furnishings Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks, 1-800-ASK GARY Thunder Stocks, and the Rent-N-Roll Gladiators.
The Modifeds are actually going to race twice as they make-up the Florida State Modified Championship race from July that was rained-out. So, Kyle Bronson and Dalton Lanich will have twice as much wear on the equipment (though both could drive 2 different cars) as they chase a championship. Of course, defending PJ Wiggins Memorial champion Rich Pratt isn’t out of either hunt and the Anthony, FL driver knows a trick or two around Bubba Raceway Park. The driver we call “4-Time” is in 4th as he chases #5; Jeff Mathews, however, has work to do if he wants it. Jim Passino went all Brett Favre on the sabbatical and was back behind the wheel of the 34A last time out. You can’t count any one out and don’t forget this- David Reutimann isn’t on any of the NASCAR entry lists.
JO Nobles has been a little nicer recently as he hasn’t won since the night of the rain-out, July 21st. Nobles’ main championship rivals aren’t getting those all-important wins, though, as Forrest Gough, David Showers, and the McGillivray brothers aren’t winning. Showers was the heat race driver of the summer season but he’ll need to win features in the fall if he wants to take home the trophy. The McGillivray brothers, Caleb and Christian, have been impressive in 2012 and 2013 looks to be a wonderful year for them and a championship could be their’s. Interesting stat on Nobles- he seeks to be the first driver to win a title in 2 different divisions since the conversion back to dirt in 2008.
Talk about a fight for a championship between Trevor Gamble and Rodney Wright! I mean, Gamble gets a top-3 and he lost a ton of points? Rodney Wright and the Sheffield Motorsports team have been consistent all year and it’s paying off; the pressure is now on Rick Friend’s #12 team and Gamble is a great driver to have in that situation! Mike Stalnkaer is so comfortable in 3rd that they have installed a sofa in the #9 machine. Of course, Stalnaker is never comfortable as he is yet to win in 2012, a rare occurence for the Ocala driver. The battle for 4th is a 2nd-generation driver with family ties to the leader, the defending Thunder Stock champion, and a Hobby Stock rookie. They are Mark Maresca, Brian Shea, and Hunter Gustafson, respectively and all have been close to Coors Light Winner’s Circle but have never visited; that could change by season’s end as Gustafson is ever-improving and Maresca and Shea are smart drivers with fast cars.
So, with 25 races down and 13 different feature winners (plus 35 heat winners) including 3 first-timers it truly is anyone’s game in the 1-800-ASK GARY Thunder Stocks. Brian Mullins and Jonathan Appleby are great title fighters as both entered 2012 with plenty of laps led, races dominated, and 0 trophies. Appleby won race 9 then peeled off 4 of the next 8 while Mullins didn’t win until 19 races in. Mullins, however, has scored at least 24 points in every feature while Appleby has missed a couple of features! Jason Gamble, Bubba Durbin, and Brandon Elwood are in the top 5 and have been impressive with consistency and, for 2 of them, race wins. It’s a 3-man title fight and Chad Scranton’s part of it as he has won 7 features in 2012 (a winning percentage of 28% and he hasn’t entered every race!) which leads the way. Throw all of these guys in- Shane Nichols, Eddie Kilbury, Jr. (who will return this week according to brother Rick), Mark Trexler, Grady Christian, Mike Tovet, Robert Ray, Ray Wheeler, and James Erickson- with Mullins, Appleby, Gamble, Durbin, and Scranton and you have 13 very good drivers and there are plenty that haven’t won a points race in 2012!
You want a battle for the ages and you have it in the Rent-N-Roll Gladiators! Tony LaPorta, an older gentlemen from the North, has been the class of the field while the hard-working Steve Johnson slowly earns points every week. Those 2 are the experience in the field. A driver with little, if any, high school experience is Jordan McMillon but you couldn’t tell from the way he drives as he’s smooth and quick. A driver who has impressed the racing community with his recent dominance is Brandon Haseleu. Yet to earn his driver’s license, he shows what youth can do and was actually the first driver to win in a rear-wheel drive car since Matt Shea on October 22, 2010. Kody Fisher came to life as he won his first ever heat race and looks to pull away from the battle for 5th and maybe join the title fight!
Gates will open at 5, grandstands at 6, and we are scheduled to start at 8:00 on Friday night! For more information you may go to www.bubbaracewaypark.com or call the Speedway at 352-622-9400!