Again it was “just one of those nights” Saturday evening at Auburndale Speedway that saw plenty of great racing, some wild action and some “hurt feelings” along the way as the show wrapped up just 20 minutes shy of finishing on Easter Sunday.
All in all it was a great night for the kids and they were out in force for a big Easter egg hunt that was sponsored by PB of Central Florida (a demolition contractor in Winter Haven) and Kitto Sheds & Equipment of Dundee. Several of the eggs contained special gold tickets and those kids got new bikes, scooters and games courtesy of the sponsors. After the egg hunt, the drawings were held for a large number of Easter baskets donated by race teams, track staff and fans. Needless to say, the kids all left the track very happy.
The headliner for the night was the Easter Bunny Special for the Super Late Models. Scheduled for 100 laps, the race was trimmed to 50 laps due to the lateness of the hour, among other things.
Just ten cars signed in but it was a stout field as Michael Atwell made the trip up from Naples and set quick time at 13.661 seconds with Chris Fontaine second fastest at 13.792 followed by Matt McCrary, George Gorham, Jr. and Jon Guy. The top six in time trials were inverted for the start of the feature placing Ft. Pierce driver David Green on the pole and Guy on the outside pole.
Green jumped out front but the overall complexion of the race would change on lap three. Gorham hit the back of Guy’s car going into turn two as Guy checked up briefly. Gorham then spun collecting most of the field. When all was said and done both Gorham and Kendall Anderson were done for the night while Guy and Charles Kopach pitted to make repairs but returned to action.
Other cars also had minor cosmetic damage but were able to stay on the speedway. At this point, with just 8 cars left and the time closing in on 11 pm, track officials decided to cut the race to 50 laps.
Green continued to set the pace after the restart just ahead of Fontaine who lost second spot to McCrary on the tenth lap only to return the favor two laps later bringing Atwell with him into third spot. Fontaine, who was driving very aggressively, forced his way by Green in turn one and grabbed the lead on lap 19. Two laps later Atwell got by Green for second just as Guy fell out of the event as the earlier damage had hurt the performance of his racer.
McCrary also called it a night during the 29th lap.
Atwell began to really put the pressure on Fontaine who was doing all he could to hold on to the top spot. With five laps to go, Atwell slammed his way by Fontaine coming off turn four and took the lead… a move that did not set well with Fontaine. Fontaine stayed right with Atwell then turned him around in turn three during the final lap.
Although Fontaine crossed the stripe first, he got the black flag instead of the checker. Green, running third when the white flag flew, was thus awarded the victory, his first ever at Auburndale Speedway. Atwell got his car going and finished the race but was also placed at the rear of the finishing order for aggressive driving. That allowed Roger Blevins to take home the runner up spot followed by Brian Dorer. Charles Kopach was a lap down but took fourth as credited as being the last car running after the DQ’s.
“We don’t get to race as often as we would like to,” said Green in victory lane. “I just want to thank the Drawdy brothers for giving me the opportunity to drive their car and it’s great to get them a win tonight.”
Although he fell out just past half way, McCrary was credited with fifth spot followed by Guy, Gorham, Anderson, Atwell and Fontaine.
The Legend Car brought 17 machines to the track and the twin heat races were won by Seth Adams and Sam Cornman. Several drivers were making their Legend Car debut including former TBARA Sprint Car champion Bo Hartley who was “testing” a car that will eventually be driven by his son Stephen. Adams started on the outside pole for the feature and led every lap to score the win in a race that saw a few cautions but only for minor incidents. It would be the last race here for Adams as he’ll be going into the ranks of the U. S. Army in just a few days.
Noah Cornman, winner of the last two Legend Car races here, was the driver putting on a show in this one as he methodically drove his way to the front and “Little Gator” was right behind Adams at the finish with Adams’ teammate Kyle Pitts holding on for third over Jarrett Wagman and Dennis Misuraca.
Completing the top ten were Jojo Viverito, Mike Verhaagh, Brad Perez, Derek Stansbury and Hartley. Rounding out the finishers were Jason Carpenter, Dylan Brewer, Bob Wilson, Logan Misuraca and Sam Cornman.
Mike Rudder and Jeff Firestine topped the heat races for the Modified Mini Stocks but Rudder had problems during the pace laps for the feature and fell out before the green flag flew. Kenny Uhl, Jr. grabbed the lead at the start and never looked back taking his first win here in some time. Ken Nurse, Jr. held off Firestine for second with Chris Spring fourth and Clint Holmes fifth. Mike Kerrivan, Richard Browm, Rachelle Rudolph, Mike Prevatt, Dalton Williamson and Rudder completed the finishing field.
The best race of the night was the V-8 Bomber feature. Just six cars were in the field but they put on quite a show. Heat winner James Wright III was getting plenty of pressure as he led the way after starting on the pole for the feature. Ronnie Abney, Jr. had his new car handling well and he went to the outside of Wright with three laps to go as Wright was battling an engine that was beginning to “lock up.” Despite bouncing off the wall at one point, Abney was able to make the outside pass stick and he took a very popular win, the first of his young career at Auburndale Speedway.
Brandon Love came through to claim second trailed by George Gorham, Jr. and Wright, who faded to fourth on the final lap. Brian Harbin was fifth and Bud Bronson sixth.
A wild and wacky Mini Stock feature saw for drivers – Fred Martin, John Cummins, Jr., Matt Cummins and Steven O’Steen – all disqualified for rough driving and unsportsmanlike conduct. Things got so out of hand that the race got the checker three laps early just to calm things down. That did not matter to Chuck Frazier as he led every lap to claim his first win of the year after also winning the earlier heat race. Chris Narramore, Jr. outlasted the rest of the field to claim second over David McCaig, Devin Brown and Guy Kolmel.
Heat winner Maria Martins dominated the Mini Cup feature taking the lead from Russell Bush on lap three then streaking away for a very easy win. Bush took second ahead of Clay Samuels, Bill Rychel, Leandro Martins (Maria’s cousin who was making his first start here), Wilson Martins and Douglas Herrin, Jr.
There was a scary moment during the Daytona Antique Auto Racing Association (DAARA) Sprint Car feature when heat winner Robert Campbell slammed hard into the turn one wall. His immaculate Sprinter was badly damaged but Campbell emerged unhurt.
Duane LeCornu went on to win the race taking the measure of Chris Hahn, Josh Rynd, Dave Cash and Campbell. Merle Strickland did not start.
Cush Revette, Jr. drove his “Crown 7” 1957 Chevy convertible to the win in the DAARA V-8 Stock Car feature ahead of heat winner Dr. Carl Doughty. Steve Slaughter was third ahead of Darren Nichols and Tommy Gamble.
The DAARA 6-Cylinder Stock Car feature was claimed by Richie Gomes who also won the heat race. Dave Davis trailed in second ahead of Steve Parrish, Rocky Buckles and David Glenn.