OCALA, Fla. – The NeSmith Crate Late Models, Scorpion Racing Products UMP DIRTcar Open-Wheel Modifieds, Bubba Army Hobby Stocks, 1-800-ASK GARY Thunder Stocks, and the Rent-N-Roll Gladiators all tackled the three-eighths-mile Bubba Raceway Park on Saturdayand it was intense for every one.
Buzzie Reutimann opened the Modifieds up with the lead but lost it to fellow heat race winner Jeff Mathews on lap five. Reutimann actually spun on lap eight and collected Paul Snyder, which made both driver’s nights much more difficult. Cory Hupp spun on lap 16 setting up a nine-lap dash with Mathews leading teammate Bryan Bernhardt and Chris Littrell.
Mathews held his teammate off for the win while Reutimann and Snyder rebounded to third and fourth, respectively. Littrell rounded out the top five.
Eric Moon jumped to first in the Hobby Stock event and held it through the lap three caution for a Don Woosley spin. On lap eight, Moon was overtaken by Brian Shea for the lead and retired on lap 14 after heavy contact with Jerome Dipple.
James Erickson got around Shea and then they spun each other after Shea ran out of talent. In the end, Don Woosley took home a huge win simply by surviving (and making his mistake early). Erickson finished second over Shea, heat race winner Rebecca Paugh, and Chuck Cessna. James Sullivan, III won the other heat.
Jeff Mathews made history in the Crate Late Model race that he started from pole in. Mathews lost his lead on lap 16 to Bryan Bernhardt, but regained it when Bernhardt made the same mistake he had made earlier.
Mathews became the first driver in the Bubba Clem Era to win in two different disciplines on the same night. Bernhardt was twice his bridesmaid with Dalton Myers, Shan Smith, and “Cadillac” Bobby Richardson the top five. The team-ates, Bernhardt and Tony Stewart Racing developmental driver Tyler Clem, won their heat races.
William Gillam jumped to an early lead in his Thunder Stock but gave it away on lap four to Brandon Elwood. Elwood gave it up a further four laps later and Brandon Tillander took charge.
On lap 14, the Brandon’s got hooked together – literally – and fell to the tail. Randy Strehle, a heat race winner, inherited the lead but his engine went sour and gave Gillam the lead once more. Gillam wouldn’t relinquish again and became the second first time winner of the night. Melvin Fockler finished a solid second while Elwood rebounded to third. Jon Layerd finished fourth and Chuck Cessna made it a double top five night.
Stephen Frankland took his 4th consecutive win in the Gladiators but it wasn’t easy. Frankland began slowing and Bill Southard nearly jumped to the lead. Frankland did hold on to tie the division record for most consecutive wins. Southard finished second, rookie driver Tyler Bryden finished a solid third, and Tom Sheehan finished an outstanding fourth.