Auburndale Speedway began the 2018 racing season with comfortable weather, a great crowd and plenty of outstanding racing. When all was said and done, four very familiar faces graced victory lane along with one very pretty new one.
Fifteen Pro Trucks were in attendance with Bartow’s Cody McDuffie turning a lap of 14.437 seconds to earn fast time honors. Young Derek Pugh of West Palm Beach was second quick at 14.580 followed by the 14.600 lap of Rodney Haddock who towed down from Hillard to compete. Austin Pickens and Jason Lester rounded out the “fast five” on the night.
McDuffie picked a six for the inversion and that placed sixth-fast qualifier Danny Anderson on the pole for the “Super Bowl 75” flanked by Lester on the outside. Lester got the jump on the field and led the opening two circuits before William Kerns brought out the caution with a spin in turn two.
Anderson got by Lester for the top spot on the restart as McDuffie started making his move.
McDuffie passed Pickens for third spot on lap nine then zipped by Lester for second two laps later. Pugh got by Pickens for third on lap 16 as all eyes were now on the battle for the lead as McDuffie was totally dialed in using the outer groove to zoom by Anderson on lap 17 to assume the point.
The next yellow flag appeared on the 29th lap as Colt Cecil got into the lapped truck of Dakota Hunt sending Hunt for a spin in turn two. Hunt dropped out just before the green flag returned while Cecil returned to action briefly before also calling it a night…
Lester got by Anderson for second on the restart but Anderson returned the favor on lap 44. The race remained under green until lap 57 when newcomer Carl McCormick (teammate of Haddock) spun in turn four after contact with Nick Haag. Both were able to continue as McDuffie continued to have a field day at the front of the pack. The final yellow came out on lap 67 for Mike Kohut’s spin in turn four.
From that point McDuffie simply ran and hid from the rest of the field.
McDuffie, who ended the 2017 season with a big win in the Joey Coulter Charity 212 in December, picked right up where he left off. “This truck is awesome,” said McDuffie in victory lane. “I just point it where I want it to go and it does it… it’s such a fantastic feeling to be in a truck this good,” he continued. McDuffie dedicated his win to his aunt who was celebrating her birthday at the track.
Anderson came home the runner-up and said he had a blast, especially the side by side racing he did with Lester who took the checker in third to complete the podium. Derek Pugh capped a great night with a fourth place effort making a late-race pass of Austin Picken who rounded out the top five.
Sixth went to Devin Kyle who had a smooth, steady run all night. Completing the top ten were Mike Kohut, Carl McCormick, Nick Haag, Rodney Haddock and Todd Haag. The remaining finishers were Brey Holmes, William Kerns, Colt Cecil and Dakota Hunt.
After the race, the top three finishers were brought to tech inspector Rick Brooks’ “Room of Doom.” Items checked were rear ends, axle, drive shafts, flywheel, transmission and crank weight. All three passed and results were made official.
Seth Adams got his season off to a great start by leading all the way to capture the 25-lap Legend Car feature. Adams won his heat and earned the pole for the nightcap and had a relatively easy go of it as the race was slowed just twice. The first caution was displayed on lap five as Tim Hunt and Sam Cornman tangled coming down the front stretch. Hunt’s car was towed from the track as something had broken in the rear end of his machine. Cornman continued but spun again by himself in turn two on lap eight for the second and final yellow flag. He later fell out of the event.
Adams cruised to victory over his teammate Kyle Pitts and first heat winner Jim Smith. Mike Verhaagh claimed fourth while Taylor Hosford was fifth.
Rounding out the finishers were Mitch Verhaagh, Alan Hiefnar, Blake Boyette, Christian Baker, Dave Fusco, Cale Nolen, Cornman and Hunt.
2017 Q Mini Stock champion Chris Narramore, Sr. won his heat race, started from the front row of the 20-lap headliner and won the all-green race by a straightaway over second place Donald Gatlin. Narramore’s son, Chris Narramore, Jr. brought his new ride home in third ahead of John Cummins, Jr. and Bruce Cozad. Sixth went to Fred Martin ahead of first heat winner T. J. Tanner, David Walls, Dalton Herman and David Myers, Sr.
Another 2017 track champion, James Wright III, also led every lap in claiming the 25-lap V-8 Bomber feature over Danny Burchfield, Brandon Duchscherer, Aaron Holmes, Jeff McCaw, Wesley Rounds and Ken Larsh. Wright also won the heat.
After winning the heat race, 14-year-old Maria Martins led all the way to claim a very popular victory in the Mini Cup 15-lap feature. It was her first-ever feature win in the class and she had to hold off a hard-charging Douglas Herrin, Jr. to do it. Russell Bush took third trailed by Clay Samuels, newcomer Bryton Horner and Kameren Wozunk.
Andy Travis held off Justin Ryan to take home the win in a 10-lap match race for the Scrambler cars.
RESULTS – PRO TRUCK SUPER BOWL 75 – 1/27/18
1) Cody McDuffie, Bartow #25
2) Danny Anderson, Bradenton #50
3) Jason Lester, Palmetto #7
4) Derek Pugh, West Palm Beach #3
5) Austin Picken, Windermere #34
6) Devin Kyle, Pinellas Park #2
7) Mike Kohut, Lehigh Acres #11K
8) Carl McCormick, Jacksonville #131
9) Nick Haag, Windermere #53
10) Rodney Haddock, Hilliard #31
11) Todd Haag, Windermere #54
12) Brey Holmes, Lakeland #57
13) William Kerns, Auburndale #69
14) Colt Cecil, Lakeland #19
15) Dakota Hunt, Lakeland #99