Dirt track racing lights up Tampa

Wow! There’s a lot of racing to talk about this week. The action got underway at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday. This column will focus on the dirt late models at East Bay Raceway in Tampa, Florida.

The Lucas Oil Late Model racing series ran a six-day series. Let’s get right to the races. The early nights don’t have the very large winner’s purses and some of the big name drivers choose to sit out the early races, but as the purses go up so does the competition.

Night one on Feb. 5 saw 39 cars take qualifying laps. Shinnston’s Josh Richards set fast time. The field was divided into four heat races. Winners were Florida racer Kyle Bronson, Devin Moran, Josh Richards and Bobby Pierce. There were two B Mains run and they were won by Greg Satterlee and Late Model standout Scott Bloomquist.

When the checkered flag flew, The Rocket Chassis house car piloted by Brandon Sheppard grabbed the victory. Devin Moran finished second. Earl Pearson Jr. ran third. Jonathan Davenport finished fourth. Scott Bloomquist came from deep in the field to finish fifth.

Our regional drivers Tim Dohm ran 18th, Mason Ziegler 20th, and Mike Benedum finished 25th.

Night two on Feb. 6 had 46 cars take qualifying runs. Those cars were divided into two groups and fast times were set by Billy Moyer Jr. and Jonathan Davenport. Once again four heat races were run. Winners for these races were, Gregg Satterlee, Timothy Culp, Jonathan Davenport, and Kyle Bronson.

Next up were two B Mains. These were features in their own right! The winners were Josh Richards and Earl Pearson Jr. Jonathan Davenport showed that his Longhorn Chassis was dialed in and took the victory over Brandon Overton. Brandon Sheppard landed the Rocket in third place. Josh Richards brought his Rocket from deep in the field to fourth. Young Tyler Erb rounded out the top five. The only regional drivers were Mason Ziegler in 16th and Charleston’s Tim Dohm suffered a hard crash into the entrance gate and moved it back over two feet. Red flag was brought out to repair the gate. Dohm was uninjured but the car would need major repairs.

Night three on Feb. 7 saw 50 cars take qualifying runs. The field was divided into two groups and Pennsylvania’s Boom Briggs and Bristol, West Virginia’s Mike Benedum set fast times. There were six heat races and the winners were Jimmy Owens, Josh Richards, Gregg Satterlee, Brandon Overton, Dennis Erb Jr, and Jonathan Davenport.

When the race ended Brandon Overton brought his new team the victory over a hard-charging Josh Richards. Gregg Satterlee continued his solid runs in third. Jonathan Davenport and young Bobby Pierce brought his new Rocket Chassis home rounding out the top five. Tim Dohm was back from the crash but didn’t transfer into the A Main. Parkersburg’s Freddie Carpenter also missed the feature. Mike Benedum and Mason Ziegler finished 20th and 23rd, respectively.

Night four on Feb. 8 saw 50 cars sign in and the two top qualifiers in their sessions were Boom Briggs and Kyle Bronson. Six heat races were run once again and the winners were Scott Bloomquist, Jimmy Owens, Gregg Satterlee, Kyle Bronson, Billy Moyer Jr. and Josh Richards.

Two B Mains were run and winners were Jonathan Davenport and Michael Maresea. Brandon Sheppard took his Rocket to victory lane. Scott Bloomquist and Devin Moran finished second and third. Josh Richards and Tyler Erb rounded out the top five. Regional guys struggled on this night with Tim Dohm, Mason Ziegler, Freddie Carpenter, Mike Benedum, and Corey Conley all missing the feature.

Night five on Feb. 9, 54 cars signed in and the best of the best were gunning for the larger purses on the final nights. The intensity level was amped up for sure. Fast times in the two qualifying sessions were Billy Moyer Jr. and Josh Richards.

Six heat races that would rival any feature in the country rolled off. The winners were Billy Moyer Jr, Earl Pearson Jr, Bobby Pierce, Josh Richards, Kyle Bronson and Jonathan Davenport.

The two B Mains were won by Chub Frank and Brandon Overton. Regional guys Tim Dohm, Freddie Carpenter and Mike Benedum all missed the feature. Benedum did, however, win the Non-Qualifiers’ race. Jonathan Davenport won over Josh Richards in the feature. Gregg Satterlee finished third. Billy Moyer Jr and Mason Ziegler rounded out the top five.

The final night on Feb. 10 saw Jonathan Davenport and Billy Moyer Jr set fast times in the group qualifying sessions. There were six more great heat races to set the field for the last event of the series at East Bay. The winners were Jonathan Davenport, Josh Richards, Earl Pearson Jr, Billy Moyer Jr. Gregg Satterlee and Scott Bloomquist.

B Mains were won by Darrell Lannigan and Jimmy Owens. Mike Benedum, Freddie Carpenter and Mason Ziegler all missed the feature once again showing the level of the competition. The Final feature event and the largest purse were taken by local star Kyle Bronson over Jonathan Davenport. Brandon Overton finished third. Josh Richards and Earl Pearson Jr brought their Rockets home inside the top five. Josh Richard holds the Lucas Oil series point lead leaving East Bay.

So as Doc Hudson says, “Turn right to go left!” because at the end of the straightaway there’s another left turn!