Fun times down in Florida

Wow, when Speedweeks in Florida gets going the action is nonstop! I’m going to just get to the news.

First I need to share a quick story about NASCAR champ Tony Stewart. He was in Florida to start his 2017 season in his winged sprint car at Bubba Raceway Park.

He raced two of the three nights with little success and had a minor disagreement with track officials and a fellow competitor.

This would be of little concern for most drivers. But, due to the fact Tony owns the American Sprint Car series, he stated,” It’s one thing to argue with an official. But, when he is also an employee, it causes a whole ‘nother set of problems! I’m currently withdrawing myself from future events in my series due to conflict of interest situations.” He finished back in the pack in both events. His teammate Donnie Shatz won two of the three nights and finished second in the other one.

That’s enough about sprint cars. Let’s talk Super Late Models Lucas Oil Series style. They kicked off the 2017 season with a visit to Golden Isle Speedway in Brunswick, Georgia, for two nights of racing. On Feb. 10, local Georgia racer Brandon Overton took the win over Tim McCreadie. Jimmy Owens ran third. The Rocket house car with Brandon Sheppard at the wheel this year was fourth. Jonathan Davenport rounded out the top five. Josh Richards in his Best Motorsports entry finished sixth.

Scott Bloomquist caused quite a disturbance. He showed up extremely late for the event, missing qualifying, the heat race and his B main. He was guaranteed a starting spot as last year’s champ. He made it clear he didn’t try to be there on time and took his spot at the rear of the field. Then when the leaders caught him to lap him, he blocked them and caused Billy Moyer Jr. to fall out of the race due to the accident he caused. Several team owners made it clear that this should not have been allowed to happen.

The officials met and a new rule was put in place called the “Bloomquist Rule.” You must be at the track and put forth a reasonable effort to be able to use a past champion’s provisional start. They did state, however, if circumstances cause you to be late, like a traffic accident, etc., then the other teams’ crew chiefs would vote to see if you would be allowed to race.

Night two at Golden Isle saw Josh Richards take his Best Motorsports car to victory lane. This basically new team includes local Crate late model champion Garrett Paugh as a crewman. Congratulations go out to this great group of guys. Scott Bloomquist finished second. Brandon Overton was third and Brian Shirley and Jonathan Davenport rounded out the top five.

The teams packed up and moved to East Bay Raceway in Tampa, Florida, for five nights of racing. Monday night found Bloomquist once again in the news. This time he was in the pits but said he was not competing. He would save his equipment for the higher-paying races later in the week. I for one could care less what he does. It was very poor sportsmanship in my book and a shame for all his fans.

Brian Shirley and Austin Hubbard led qualifying. Morgantown’s Michael Lake transferred to the feature from his heat by finishing ahead of Josh Richards. Area drivers, including Charleston’s Tim Dohm, Tyler Carpenter and Corey Conley, all transferred from their B mains along with Hudson O’Neal. Hudson is the son of veteran driver ‘the Real Deal’ Don O’Neal.

The A main saw Brandon Sheppard win in the new Rocket Chassis house car. The top 10 were Earl Pearson Jr. second, Devin Moran third, East Bay regular Kyle Bronson in fourth, Brian Shirley fifth, Austin Hubbard sixth, Josh Richards seventh and Tyler Erbb eighth, while Hudson O’Neal drove from 19th to ninth and earned the hard charger of the race award, and Gregg Satterlee rounded out the top 10.

Our area racers finished 12th Michael Lake, 15th Tim Dohm, 20th Corey Conley and Tyler Carpenter was involved in an early caution and retired from the race in 26th.

Valentine’s Day brought day two of the East Bay action. Josh Richards had a sweet ride! He set fast time for his group and would not be denied the victory. Tim Dohm made it a West Virginia kind of night, finishing second. Rounding out the top five were Austin Hubbard, Devin Moran and David Breazeale. Area racers finished up with Michael Lake in eighth, Corey Conley 14th and Mason Ziegler 15th. Brandon Sheppard took the Rocket house car pit side early and finished 26th. There was a scary moment when several cars piled up off of turn two and Steve Francis car wound up on its side. Fast Freddie Carpenter was also taken out in this incident. Steve climbed from his car six feet in the air and was uninjured.

Action begins Saturday night at the Daytona International Speedway with the Clash at Daytona, presented by Advance Auto Parts. Seventeen drivers will race for 75 laps in three segments for a pile of money and bragging rights but no points. The starting lineup will be determined by random draw on Friday.

There are 17 drivers entered and this is by invitation only through certain criteria. These drivers will be Cris Buescher, Alex Bowman (subbing for Dale Jr.), Kurt and Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski )who just got married), Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Danica Patrick, Daniel Suarez (Carl Edwards’ replacement) and Martin Truex Jr.

This race is action packed and I’ll be watching to bring you all the updates from the dirt tracks and the high banks of Daytona because at the end of the straight there’s Another Left Turn.

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