Mathews Masters East Bay Late Models


GIBSONTON, Fla. – Jeff Mathews drove to victory in the late-model division Saturday night at East Bay Raceway Park.

The first feature of the night went to the Outlaw Fours. Winning their heat races were Jesse Foster and Nick Hebrank as they also made up the front row for the 15 lap feature event. When the green dropped it was Foster leading the field for the first seven laps until the first caution came out for Megan Meyer as she spun in turn one.

When the green waved again with just a few laps left it Stephen Hohlbaugh spinning in turn two after running in the top five. Then on the restart it was defending Champion Jesse Brown making his way to take over the lead and did on lap nine not looking back and picking up his first win of the season. Finishing in second was Foster followed by Raymond Folwell, Brittany Yates and Hohlbaugh rounding out the top five.

Next were the Gagel’s Open Wheel Modifieds. Before the night started, points leader David Pollen, Jr. had just a 44 point lead over two time defending Champion Austin Sanders and Thomas Pratt and Bruce Harvey just 49 points back.

Picking up heat wins were Harvey and Sanders trying to get points to catch Pollen, Jr. So for the feature it was Kyle Bronson and Bobby Dixon on the front row. On the initial green flag, Dixon spun in turn two causing a complete restart. So on the restart, the young man who has won 25 features this year took the lead.

The first caution came out on lap seven as Nate Bregenzer spun in turn four. On the restart, Bronson quickly jumped back out in front. But with just five laps to go, Kevin Bryant spun in four collecting Bregenzer and ending both of their nights. So it was a five lap dash to see who would be the Champion for the division. Bronson quickly led the field into turn one and never looked back as he went on to win his fourth feature at East Bay and 26 wins overall this season. He thanked Wayne and Shirlene Hammond for letting him wheel the car and his crew.

If it wasn’t for his crew he said, none of it would be possible he also stated. Finishing in second was Sanders with Pratt, Pollen, Jr. and Tim Gay rounding out the top five. That was good enough for David Pollen, Jr. to crown him the 2012 Gagel’s Open Wheel Modified Champion.

Late Models were next with Roger Crouse and Mathews winning their heat races and the front row for the 25 lap feature event. Mathews quickly led the field into turn one with points leader Roger Crouse right behind him.

Only two cautions came out during the feature. On lap four, Henry Burnside spun in turn two collecting several cars including Bronson, Hamp Conley and Mavrick Varnadore. And then on lap twenty as Steven Mathis, Jr. also spun.

So with just five laps to go, Mathews tried to hold off hard charging Phillip Cobb and Shan Smith. When the checkered waved, it was Mathews winning his first feature of the 2012 Season here at East Bay Raceway Park.

“We made some changes after last week chasing Keith Nosbisch and came out to see if they were positive, but Nosbisch was not here so we couldn’t tell if they were any good,” Mathews stated in victory lane.

Cobb went on to finish second with Smith, Travis Varnadore and Crouse rounding out the top five.

The last event of the night went to the V8 Warriors. Winning their heat races and starting on the front row for the feature was Marco Reyes and Jeff Weaver. Weaver took off on the green flag looking to pick up his second feature of the year.

The only caution came out when Jason Manning lost control on the front stretch and Bill Dixon had no place to go and slammed into Manning ending Dixon’s night. Reyes picked up the win with Weaver second, Bill Whitney, Jeff Firestine and Brett Phillips rounding out the top five.