AT THE RACES
By Tera Gunter
June 30, 2006

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Putnam County Speedway Enjoying a Resurgence
By: Tera Gunter
6-30-06

Putnam County Speedway is enjoying quite a resurgence under new management. Going from an uncertain future as recent as April, to entertaining over 3000 fans at the June 24th Monster Truck show, track officials remain committed to providing fans with one of the best entertainment values in North and Central Florida. That commitment continued this weekend as 104 racers entertained the fans Friday night and the track hosted a ladies Powder Puff event.

Street stocks rumbled onto the track with three-wide racing down the front stretch at the green flag drop. Johnny Tilton found himself flanked three times on the front stretch after two restarts, by Kenny Hall Sr. and Kevin Davis. Hall took the lead in the start that counted as Marc Kinley, who started deep in the field, proved he had the car to beat tonight as he shot through the field to take the fifth position on the first lap. As Kinley pulled into position behind Hall, Kevin Mills, who started deeper in the field than Kinley, pulled in behind Kinley. The race leaders began a battle that was soon joined by Jared Cooper and all four racers thoroughly entertained fans with great side by side action. After placing heat on Hall, Kinley made his move to overtake the leader on the backstretch on lap 13. Contact with Cooper after he got loose cost Hall 2 positions. Kinley held onto his lead despite multiple challenges placed on him by Cooper, especially in turn 4. Cooper fell out of contention late in the race as Kinley led the Putnam County area Longs Garage Ford to victory lane over Mills, Hall, Richard Adams, and Tilton. Patty and Cecil Long remain committed to Marc, an asphalt racer Scott Boutwell first introduced to the Longs. Patty states Marc’s #1 goal is not just winning, but entertaining the fans with a good show!

Open-wheeled modifieds enjoyed the presence of some of the Tampa area East Bay Raceway racers and a rare appearance by former track regular, Jason Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, currently crew chief for Jacksonville’s Earl Pearson, Jr., who competes in the super late model Lucas Oil Xtreme Dirt Car Series, took the lead over John Bradley and former track regular Ronnie Chance in a tight battle. A caution after a wreck between turns 1-2 shuffled the field as Jeff Matthews and Jason Lowe joined Fitzgerald and Bradley. The restart found Bradley placing heat on Fitzgerald before Bradley gained the lead on the back stretch. Matthews used the front stretch to his advantage, passing Fitzgerald and placing heat on Bradley. As Bradley moved high going into turn four, Matthews ducked low and took the lead out of turn 4. Matthews gained a good lead over the field as Fitzgerald and Lowe worked on Bradley. Lowe pulled into second as Roger Crouse challenged Fitzgerald. A restart after a caution cost Lowe as Crouse beat Lowe to the punch on the front stretch. Lowe strove to overtake Crouse for second, almost pulling it off in the race to the checkered flag. Matthews took the checkered with Crouse taking second over Lowe by a nose. Stephen Ramsey, who worked hard to overcome being caught up in two separate wrecks, took fourth, followed by Bradley.

Dsvid Jones took the lead in the late model feature over David Crews as Jeff Kopka and Eric Platt dueled for third. Richard Ferry and point leader Billy Costello joined the race leaders before a caution was thrown for Michael Cherry. Kopka and Costello, reacting to the caution, tangled on the front stretch. With the caution already out, both Kopka and Costello regained their positions. The restart saw Jones once again take the lead before Kopka and Platt tangled on the front stretch and Costello fell out of contention. After pitting, Platt returned to the track and began working his way back up from the rear of the lead lap. Ferry and Crews entertained fans in a battle for second before Ferry passed Crews and took off after Jones. Ferry made his move of the race when Jones got loose going into turn 2, leaving Jones to battle Crews who placed hard challenges on Jones. Jeff Matthews, doing double duty tonight, worked through the field, bringing Platt with him. Crews suffered mechanical failure, falling out of contention, as Matthews and Platt battled for third. Platt overtook Matthews, but not without Matthews trying his best to shake up Platt before a flat tire ended Matthews’ chance. Jones’ who appeared to have trouble with his ride, fell further down as Ferry ran away from the field. Ferry led Platt, Mark Davis, Jason Pipkins, and Clyde Herron to the checkered flag.

Hobby stocks enjoyed one of their most entertaining, yet controversial features this year with track officials proving they mean business as one racer was placed to the rear of the field for rough driving and another saw his first place finish stripped by track officials. Sadly, altercations on the track led to flared tempers in the pit area with a race team being escorted from the property and another driver disqualified. Andy Schell took the lead with Mike Scranton pulling into second followed by David Dowling, Jr. Dowling gained on Scranton with Michael Tovet hot on his heels. Dowling and Tovet caught up with Schell, flanking Schell as exciting, three-wide racing ensued down the front stretch before David Miller Jr. made his presence known and took second behind Dowling. Scranton and Miller entertained fans with great side by side action for several laps as Scranton also placed heat on Dowling for the lead. Hard racing on lap 9 ensued as Dowling and Scranton dueled for the lead, running side by side before contact from Dowling spun Scranton out. Scranton returned to the track after a pit stop and both racers were placed to the rear of the lead lap. The restart found Miller in the lead with Bubba Moore hot on his tail before Moore spun out. Multiple lead changes ensued before Scranton took the lead. Danny Miller pulled into position behind Scranton as Moore worked his way back up. Miller placed hard challenges on Scranton but Scranton held on before contact between Miller and Scranton caused Scranton to get loose coming to the checkered flag. Scranton quickly recovered to take third behind Moore, followed by Joel Goldfrank and William Martin. Miller was disqualified, handing the win to Moore. Another decision by track officials gave the 2nd-5th positions to Goldfrank, Martin, Dowling, and Alvin Letchworth.

Mini stocks enjoyed some new players to the field too as Joey Brinson took the initial lead before Blake Spencer made a run for the lead. Justin Carney and Jay Farris quickly pulled behind Spencer and before long, the field was spread out with Spencer, Carney, and Farris out ahead of the rest of the field. By lap 6, Farris had passed Carney and set his sights on Spencer. Farris placed multiple challenges on Spencer with Spencer holding his lead before Spencer pulled away from Farris when it became apparent that Farris was losing power. Spencer took the checkered ahead of Farris, Brinson, James Conway, and Carney.

Box stocks hit the track with a terrific turnout and a thrilling feature for fans! Justin Dean took the lead with Nicholas Kerr, Lonnie Magruder, and Shawn Pawlak following. The field was red flagged for Tallie Lewis, who hit the back inside retaining wall and flipped over. Lewis was ok and racing resumed as Thomas Parker moved through the field. Dean and Pawlak began their usual exciting duel for the lead with Pawlak challenging Dean for multiple laps and Dean just as determinedly holding on to his lead. Pawlak passed Dean out of turn 4 only to see the field red flagged once again as Wayne Pawlak flipped his ride on the side on the front stretch. Pawlak climbed out of his ride, pushed it back over, and climbed back in to take off again amid cheers from the grandstands! Shawn Pawlak led Kerr, Dean, Mark Comitale, and Bruce Burk to victory lane.