It was just “one of those nights” at Auburndale Speedway Saturday night as anything that could go wrong…. well… it did.
The entire show got off to a late start as a pair of brief showers dampened the track during hot laps. Despite the delay, action still got going only 15 minutes late.
The big race of the night was the WPCV 97.5 Country Radio Earth Day 125 “Super 8” Series race for the Super Late Models. Due to the rain, qualifying was held during the middle of the heat races for the other classes.
Joe Boyd of Riverview, winner of the season-opening Super 8 Series event back in March, was fast once again as he set quick time of 13.568 seconds topping the 13.582 lap of Winter Haven’s George Gorham, Jr. with Josh Todd of Polk City third quick at 13.589.
As has been the case for big races here recently, the position re-draw did not go Boyd’s way as the top eight cars from time trials were inverted for the start placing Auburndale drivers Chris Fontaine and Ron Lofquist on the front row. Lofquist was making his first start at Auburndale in quite some time with a brand-new car to boot.
Overall this race would not be pretty as the 125 laps produced two red flag periods and another 15 caution flags before the marathon would end nearly an hour and a half after it started.
Fontaine jumped out to an early lead only to see Todd go for a spin in turn two to bring out the first of the many yellow flags on lap four. Gorham and Boyd, who started seventh and eighth, were already up to fourth and fifth after the restart.
Fontaine continued to set the pace but the caution re-appeared on lap nine for Todd who stopped up high in turn four. The earlier incident had torn a hole in the radiator of his car and he stopped it before any damage could be done to the engine. Not a good night for Todd who had a podium finish last time out.
At the same time Becca Monopoli pitted to have a tire rub fixed.
Things got really chippy on the restart as Lakeland’s Steve Dorer aggressively took the top spot on lap 13 with Gorham also slipping by Fontaine four laps later. The field finally got into some good green flag action as the top five of Dorer, Gorham, Fontaine, Boyd and Lofquist pulled away from the rest of the contenders.
Lap 32 saw Matt McCrary go for a spin off turn two while Boyd got spun off turn four just after the caution was displayed. Boyd got his spot back in the line-up while McCrary took his car pit side as did Blaise Hetznecker although both quickly returned to the fray.
Fontaine was still strong and re-captured second place from Gorham on the restart. Meanwhile Brandon Duchscherer was charging taking fifth spot on lap
40 after starting the race from tenth. Six laps later Fontaine forged his way by Dorer and back into the lead.
Dorer and Gorham then began a fender-wanging duel that saw them both nearly spin each other out on the 47th lap. In fact, Duchscherer dove inside to take third place but the pass was negated by a caution flag for debris on the track. Brian Dorer and Noah Cornman pitted during the yellow but returned.
Duchscherer slipped by Boyd for fourth on the restart just before Hetznecker fell off the pace and retired to the infield on lap 55. One lap later David King spun in turn 4 to bring out the yellow again.
Things got testy on the restart as both Dorer and Boyd spun with track officials seeing Gorham as the culprit for the rough action. Gorham was thus black-flagged and went to the pits for a consultation with officials before returning and restarting at the tail of the field. The cars of Duchscherer and Monopoli also received damage. Duchscherer made a brief pit stop while Monopoli stayed on track.
After all the wild action the new top five now found Fontaine leading Boyd, Jett Noland, Monopoli and Jamie King. Noland slipped into second on the restart as Boyd stayed high and tried to regain the spot but spun in turn one after Noland drifted up in turn one causing Boyd to lose it in the “marbles.”
Boyd pitted and returned but his car would never be as fast as it was earlier.
Dorer pitted during the yellow and did not return.
On the restart the caution was out yet again as Lofquist went for a spin courtesy of Monopoli. There were now 11 cars still in the running, all on the lead lap. Jamie king got by Noland on the restart as the yellow was again displayed when Noland was turned by Brian Dorer. Monopoli pitted to have the bowed-up hood on her machine removed while Boyd also headed for the pit area and called it a night.
Fontaine continued to hold off all challengers as Duchscherer was again on the move as he got around Cornman for third on lap 69. David King spun in turn two during the 75th lap collecting Lofquist but both were able to continue.
Again, both Duchscherer and Gorham were charging hard and moved into second and third by lap 79 and appeared to be a bit quicker than leader Fontaine.
Action was slowed again on lap 81 as Jamie King was sent for a spin by Noland.
Brian Dorer then spun on the restart to keep the yellow out then spun again on the next restart just after Gorham made a pass on Duchscherer for second.
The next restart saw Monopoli take fourth spot as her car now seemed to have “come in” while Duchscherer re-passed Gorham for the runner-up spot on lap 90.
Finally some more green flag racing ensued as Fontaine, Duchscherer and Gorham raced in tight formation up front.
Noah Cornman, driving a great race, had his evening come to a quick end as his car began smoking heavily while he was running fifth on lap 104. Cornman pulled to the infield where the caution came out on lap 107 to check a possible fire in his car. The smoke was actually steam as the car had run so hot it blew the radiator cap off.
It would take several tries to get past the 107th lap starting with Monopoli spinning on the restart and getting hit by Jamie King’s car. King stayed out while Monopoli pitted but did not make it out for the restart.
The next restart saw the worst incident of the night as Fontaine and Duchscherer bumped together in turn four with Duchscherer spinning. Lofquist had nowhere to go and drove over the front end of Duchscherer’s car while Noland also clobbered the Duchscherer machine with Brian Dorer also getting front end damage as well.
This required a long red flag period as both the Duchscherer and Noland cars were done for the night. Lofquist pitted but returned minus the body work on the right side of his new racer. Monopoli returned before the restart and was still on the lead lap while Dorer stayed on the race track.
track officials ruled that Fontaine was at fault for the incident and he went from the lead to the rear of the restart line-up while Gorham now assumed the top spot over Brian Dorer and David King. That pair apparently didn’t like running up front as they tangled on the restart heading into turn one.
Believe it or not the rest of the laps were run under green as Gorham led the remaining distance to score a hard-fought victory. Fontaine was still strong but could never mount a challenge after moving back up into second while Lofquist drove his battered car to third ahead of Brian Dorer and Jamie King.
Noland returned to the race and hung on for sixth while Monopoli fought an ill-handling car over the final laps to finish seventh, the last car of the 15-car field still running although everybody still out there was on the lead lap.
Gorham had a bit of a problem just getting out of his car as his legs were cramping up. “It was a long race, I guess.” said Gorham. “I’ve never had cramps after a race so I guess I probably need to get into the gym,” he joked.
“You know this is a home grown team that works their butts off. We stay up sometimes until two, four o’clock in the morning working on this thing then get right back up and go to work but being here right now makes it all worth it,” Gorham continued.
Fontaine did not come to victory lane obviously upset by the call that took him from the lead. Lofquist was probably as shocked as anybody that he got a top three finish. “You’re right, this is, or was, a new car but the damage is really not that bad and i think we can fix it fairly easy,” he said.
Undaunted, Gorham came back to score another victory, this time in the V-8 Bomber feature again driving the potent Camaro owned by Roy “Bubba” Healey.
This race would also see a rash of caution flags and four different leaders.
Heat winner Bobby Mobley led the first six circuits while Danny Burchfield would then lead a trio of laps before being passed by James Wright III who had pitted after a lap two incident to replace a flat tire.
Wright led through lap 16 but his car was not handling like he wanted and Gorham sped by to lead the rest of the way to take the win over Wright, Burchfield, Mobley, Jody Gill, Ronnie Abney, Jamie Castleberry, Buddy Smith and David Purvis who broke an axle on the ninth lap.
It was yet another “family affair” in the Q Mini Stocks as Chris Narramore, Jr. took the lead from Fred Martin on the second lap then raced to his third win of the year over his dad Chris Narramore, Sr. Bruce Cozad scored yet another third place finish in front of Martin, David McCaig, Duker Holley, T.
- Tanner and Amber Eldridge. Donald Gatlin was unable to start the feature.
Narramore, Jr. also won the heat race.
Jim Smith defeated a short field of Legend Cars to claim his second win of the year after earlier winning the heat race. Joey Langis was a distant second ahead of Jade Hubert, new driver Brandon Taylor and Cale Nolen. Kyle Pitts did not start.
Douglas Herrin, Jr. again dominated the Mini Cup class to score his third win in a row. The 13-year-old driver was over a straightaway ahead of second place Clay Samuels. Heat winner Brey Holmes was third trailed by Maria Martins, Bill Rychel, Russell Bush and Kameren Wozunk. Bryton Horner had problems during the heat and did not start the feature.
OFFICIAL FINISH – SUPER LATE MODELS (125 Laps):
1) George Gorham, Jr. #03
2) Chris Fontaine #47
3) Ron Lofquist #49
4) Brian Dorer #97
5) Jamie King #33
6) Jett Noand #50
7) Becca Monopoli #59X
8) Brandon Duchscherer #23 – DNF
9) David King #22 – DNF
10) Noah Cornman #30 – DNF
11) Joe Boyd #5 – DNF
12) Steve Dorer #10 – DNF
13) Blaise Hetznecker #17 – DNF
14) Matt McCrary #54 – DNF
15) Josh Todd #0 – DNF