OCALA, Fla. – Davie Franek lived up to his nickname, didn’t panic and ultimately took down the current kingpin of winged 360ci sprint car racing to reign victorious Friday night at Bubba Raceway Park.
In the continuation of the United Sprint Car Series Winter Heat, Franek used a lap-11 restart to charge past three-time ASCS national champion Sam Hafertepe Jr. and went on to victory, notching both his first USCS win and his first score on the three-eighths-mile Ocala clay in his first visit to the track.
“I love this place now, are you kidding?” Franek exclaimed when asked about his thoughts in victory lane. “This feels great. We were contemplating what to do before the feature, and the car was absolutely perfect. We made all the right calls and I couldn’t be happier with this result.”
Franek pounced after the race’s lone caution flag waved with 10 laps complete, when Mark Smith and Carson Short tangled and came to rest in turns three and four.
Hafertepe had led the entire distance to that point with ease, but Franek was ready when green-flag conditions resumed, charging to the bottom of the race track and sliding Hafertepe in turn three to take control of the 25-lap feature.
From there, Hafertepe could do nothing more with Franek’s No. 28 and even lost the second spot after nearly tangling with a slowing Short in the waning moments of the feature.
Hafertepe’s momentary misfortune allowed three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart to sneak by and finish as the runner-up, with Hafertepe completing the podium ahead of Wayne Johnson and Justin Barger.
Dylan Westbrook, Seth Bergman, Thomas Kennedy, Danny Martin Jr. and Danny Smith made up the balance of the top 10.
Tyler Courtney won the headlining USAC National Midget Series feature.
Davie Franek, Tony Stewart, Sam Hafertepe Jr., Wayne Johnson, Justin Barger, Dylan Westbrook, Seth Bergman, Thomas Kennedy, Danny Martin Jr., Danny Smith, Mark Smith, Brett Wright, Mark Ruel Jr., Ricky Peterson, Nick Snyder, Adam Pierson, Terry Gray, Matt Kurtz, Johnny Bridges, Shawn Murray, Carson Short, Larry Wight, Max Stambaugh, Todd Gracey.