GIBSONTON, FL (February 4, 2021): A pair of local favorites, Mark Whitener, of Middleburg, and Justin Webster, of Sarasota, were victorious in the 45th running of the Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park. Whitener captured the win in the Crate Racing USA Late Models, while Webster scored with the Top Gun Sprints.
When threatening weather forced another series to cancel their Super Late Model races at a different Florida track, Whitener went to Plan B, to run his Crate Late at East Bay. The decision was almost his undoing. While loading that car into the hauler to make the trip to East Bay Whitener fell and sustained a leg injury. He even fell several times at the track, but the injury did not slow his pace in the race car one bit. “I’m gimped up pretty bad right now, but it didn’t really affect me in the race car.”
Whitener made it a clean sweep, setting the fastest time over the 78 car field, winning his heat race, and getting the feature win.
Although Whitener started on the pole for the thirty lapper, he lost the initial lead to Joseph Joiner. Joiner led the first thirteen laps over Whitener, Kyle Lukon, Phillip Cobb, and Dylan Knowles. Kyle Hardy soon cracked the top five, and reached the third position by lap ten. Hoiwever, he was unable to reel in the leaders.
Whitener made a two-for-one move in the first corner with thirteen laps complete. He got by both the leader Joiner and a lapped car to assume command. The leaders went on to complete the lap before another caution was displayed, so Whitener was on the point for the Delaware double file restart.
The restart was costly to Hardy, who got out into the loose dirt at the top of the speedway. He lost four positions, allowing Lukon, Knowles, and Cory Hedgecock to scoot by.
Whitener maintained his advantage but Joiner stayed close until misfortune struck. He clipped the outside wall in turn three and brought his car to a stop. Another quick caution gave Lukon a second shot at the leader, but he was not up to the task.
Whitener completed the remaining six laps without difficulty. Lukon was second in his debut at East Bay. Hedgecock was third despite using a provisional to start dead last in the race. Ashton Winger and Hardy completed the top five.
Frankie Lloyd, Jake Rainey, Dylan Knowles, Jake Knowles, and Jeremy Shaw finished sixth through tenth.
Whitener’s quick time was 15.995 seconds. Joining him as heat winners were Richie Stephens, Shaw, Winger, Joiner, Dylan Knowles, Lukon, and Nick Gainey. Four B Mains were held, with victories going to Logan Roberson, Colton Leyendecker, Jason Welshan, and Garrett Mosley.
In the Top Gun Sprints, passing points set the starting line up. Dylan Colding and Garrett Green were in the front for 25 trips around the Clay by the Bay. Justin Webster and Shane Butler were in the second row, with Danny Martin, Jr. and A.J. Maddox in row three. Robbie Hoffmann and Ethan Barrow were paired in row four, with Will Hull and Billy Bridges in row five.
Green rolled out to the early lead over Butler and Colding. Martin spun on lap two, with Tyler Orzichowski bringing out the caution soon thereafter.
Green stayed out front until his car suddenly slowed between turns three and four with seven laps in the books. That handed the lead to Webster, who would never be headed.
Webster deftly maneuvered his way through the heavy traffic for fourteen laps until the race was halted due to the flip by John Kall. Kall was unhurt in the wreck. Through that long run, Butler and Hoffman were battling for second. However, all eyes were on Martin, who was picking his way through the field. He lined up fourth for the penultimate restart, with Maddox in fifth.
When racing resumed, Martin swept past Hoffman and now he was all over Butler for the second position. Contact ensued, and Butler’s car turned over in turn four with just four laps remaining in the contest. Hoffmann skipped by the crash scene and was lined up in second for the final restart. He could not hold off the fleet Martin however.
Webster, Martin, and Hoffmann earned the podium positions. Maddox was fourth, with Tyler Clem in fifth. Larry McVay, Barrow, Brandon Grubaugh, Hull, and Luke Hill rounded out the top ten.
Four heats were held for the 28 cars on hand. Victories belonged to Webster, Hoffmann, Barrow, and Green. Andy Cobb prevailed in the B Main. Webster’s heat and feature wins added the Lee and Jeff Barfield Memorial Clean Sweep award to his bounty.
Wagaman Wows ’em at Lincoln Speedway
(Abbottstown, PA February 27, 2021): Tim Wagaman, from nearby Hanover, PA, won the $5,000 Icebreaker 30 at the Fabulous Lincoln Speedway. The triumph was just the second career 410 Sprint Car victory for the driver recognized earlier in the day as the track’s Most Improved driver.
Wagaman made a calculated, but risky, move on the outside of turns one and two on a lap 6 restart. He pulled alongside the leader, Kyle Moody, and won the drag race to turn three. Wagaman had discussed the tactic with his race team before the start of the feature event. “I tried to keep it against the curb and to roll it around there,” he explained. The move was more precarious because the racing groove was narrower than usual. “I couldn’t do it on the start but got a chance of the restart.”
Moody and Wagaman were on the front row for the season’s first event. Tim Glatfelter and Matt Campbell were in row two. Chase Dietz and Alan Krimes were paired up in the third row., with Dylan Cisney and Tyler Esh stacked up behind them. Dylan Norris and Jordan Givler were in row five. Hunter Mackison and Anthony Macri rolled off in row six. Some of the area’s top stars were even further back in the starting line-up. Defending track champion Freddie Rahmer, Jr., was scheduled to go from sixteenth, but he forfeited his position for one at the tail of the field. Arch rival Danny Dietrich was slated for twentieth, and new Posse member Tim Shaffer for twenty-fourth. Steve Buckwalter started twenty-fifth after flipping in the first heat race.
Moody got the jump on Wagaman at the drop of the green. Wagaman nestled into second, with Campbell, Glatfelter, Dietz, and Krimes fighting for third. Moody began to pull away from the pack and it looked as though the hard luck driver would get things going the right way in the new year. However, the caution for Jordan Mackison on lap five brought Moody back to the rest of the racers and set up Wagaman’s winning move on the ensuing restart.
Once Wagaman was in control, the fast lane was down on the bottom of the speedway. Moody remained in second, trailed by Campbell, Glatfelter, and Krimes. There were a pair of restarts on lap 12. While the top five remained unchanged, positions sixth though ten changed, as an incident in turn one took out a couple of the contestants. Nobody was injured, but the running order did change significantly as a result.
The racers completed the remainder of the race without incident. Wagaman continued to lead, but Moody started to reel him in. Campbell also began to make his way to the front. He took second with twenty laps in the books, but Moody came charging back. There was slight contact between them in turn one on lap 23, and Campbell went up the track, losing several positions in the process. That also gave Wagaman some needed breathing room.
While Wagaman led the way, he encountered some lapped traffic. That gave Moody a chance to close in again during the waning laps. “The car was there today, we didn’t have real good luck,” he said. “He (Wagaman) got around me. I might have had a chance in traffic,” his voice trailing off. But Wagaman was flawless and went on to the popular victory.
After Wagaman and Moody came Glatfelter. “My guys did a good job, but it got kinda one grooved out there today.” Krimes was fourth, followed by Campbell.
Macri led Brandon Rahmer, Cisney, Justin Peck, and Tyler Ross across the finish line. Shaffer was the hard charger, crossing in twelfth. Freddie Rahmer, Jr. and Danny Dietrich were early retirees.
Three heats started the day’s fun. WIns went to Cisney, Krimes, and Norris. The B Main was eliminated and all
twenty-six cars were allowed to take the green.
Another 410 Sprint Car program is on tap March 6, with racing to begin at 2 p.m. There will be open practice sessions for all divisions of racers following the conclusion of the program. Support divisions will appear on March 13, when the Central PA Legends are added; March 20, when the 358 Sprints make their first appearance; and March 27, when the 305 Sprints come to the Pigeon Hills. Evening racing will commence on March 20, with a 6 p.m. start.
Shaffer Scores on Night Two at East Bay
GIBSONTON, FL (February 12, 2021): It did not take long for the Steel City Outlaw to register his first win as the new driver of Mike Heffner’s potent 360 Sprint Car. After grabbing a second spot in the opening round of the King of the 360s portion of the 45th Annual Winternationals, Shaffer got the win in just his seventh outing with the new team.
“This is awesome,” Shaffer said modestly. He gave props to his crew chief, Heath Moyle, and explained that the two have been able to communicate well in their brief time together. “When you can beat Mark (Smith) here, you’re doing something. He has a really good program and that’s what we’re striving for. We want to get a great program and be successful everywhere.”
Mark Smith and Tim Shaffer made up a Keystone State front row for the 25 lapper. Terry McCarl and Brett Wright were in the row behind. Eric Riggens and Carson McCarl rolled away from row three. Dale Howard and Cody Bova were in row four, with Nick Snyder and Ben Brown in row five. The sixth row had the opening night winner, Danny Martin, Jr., and Zane DeVault looking across at one another.
Smith powered off turn four to take the initial lead, with Wright challenging Shaffer for second. Riggens, Terry McCarl, and Howard followed closely. Shaffer dispatched Wright, and soon thereafter it became a two-car battle for the lead. The Pennsylvania drivers began to pull away from the rest of the pack as they were playing cat and mouse while lapping slower cars.
Smith lost some grip between turns three and four, and the back end of his car slid out, allowing Shaffer to duck under him and grab the lead as a they crossed the line for the seventh time. Shaffer slid out a bit in turn one on the next lap, but Smith could not return the favor.
Traffic became heavier as Shaffer and Smith continued on. Smith made a good run through three and four on the bottom to regain the lead. He was not able to keep it for long, though. Smith went to the outside of a slower car, and Shaffer went beneath them both in turn two to take the lead again.
While Shaffer and Smith were putting on a great show up front, Riggens climbed into third. McCarl rode along in fourth, but Martin was fifth and climbing. A caution on lap fifteen for Wright’s spin in turn four brought the field back together again. Wright limped to the pits, ending a run that surely would have locked him into the Saturday A Main. Wright’s misfortune played into Martin’s hand, as he immediately gained two spots when racing resumed.
By lap 18, Martin worked into second. Smith remained close, and Riggens was hounding him for third. McCarl and Howard were still racing in position, but they were losing ground to the leaders.
Martin began to close in on Shaffer as the laps were winding down. Fans started to wonder whether he could bypass Shaffer for a second consecutive triumph.
However the second caution of the contest was displayed just as Shaffer took the white flag.
Shaffer got away cleanly on the restart. Martin, however, slid up the track coming off turn four and Smith quickly filled the inside lane. He was able to get a nose ahead of Martin entering turn one. Martin fought back on the outside of turn two, but Smith was better on the inside than Martin was on the outside of turns three and four.
Shaffer took the win, with Smith edging Martin for second. Riggens and Terry McCarl were fourth and fifth. Howard, Max Stambaugh, Carson McCarl, Bova, and DeVault completed the top ten.
The 49 car field was divided into six heats again. Smith, Terry McCarl, Carson McCarl, Wright, Howard, and Shaffer prevailed. Stambaugh, Davey Franek, and Conner Leoffler each won a B Main.
The combined performances in the first two rounds locked six racers into the Saturday A Main. Dale Howard and Tim Shaffer tied as the top point getters. Terry McCarl, Mark Smith, Danny Martin, Jr., and Eric Riggens also got preferred starting positions for the Ronald Laney Memorial and they too will not have to compete in any heat races on championship night. Wright’s DNF proved costly, as he missed the cut by just one point.
Jim Kradel won the Mini Sprint A Main over Steve Diamond, Jr., Stephen Thomas, Don Quinn, and James McNulty. Jerod Myers defeated Doug Dyal in the Micro Sprint feature. Paul Seburn, William Brennan, Jr., and Joshua Davis completed the top five.
Martin Marvelous in East Bay 360 Sprint Opener
GIBSONTON, FL (February 11, 2021): After suffering through two embarassing starts during last week’s Top Gun Sprint Series races held at East Bay Raceway Park, Danny Martin, Jr. dominated the action on night one of the King of the 360 Nationals. Martin spun out in the early going in two of the three races for the Limited Sprints during the 45th running of the Winternationals. However, on this night, the native of Sarasota, FL kept the car pointed in the proper direction for all 25 laps.
“Man, I’m getting old,” a Martin said while struggling to catch his breath. “I’m going to be 35. I need to hit the gym. That was a long green flag run on a heavy track like that,” he added. Martin, who passed up a 360 Sprint show at another Florida speedway, explained that the extra laps at East Bay, albeit in a Limited Sprint, helped him find the winning formula. “A lot of these guys were sliding up. I kinda figured out how to arc the corner and keep it low and it just worked out. I haven’t been able to do that in a long time.”
Brett Wright had the pole for round one of the 360 Sprints by virtue of his eighth to second place run in his heat race. The passing points system put Dale Howard, a heat winner, to his outside. Terry McCarl, who also excelled in his heat, started in third, next to Tyler Gunn. Jacob Karklin and Conner Leoffler were in row three, followed by ageless Terry Gray and Danny Martin, Jr. Row five paired Ben Brown and Davey Franek. Mark Smith, who battled TMac throughout their exciting heat race, was inside row six. Dustin Gates was his dancing partner for the start of the event. Tim Shaffer, making his 360 Sprint debut for the Heffner stable, started in row seven.
Howard blasted out to the lead, followed by Wright, Terry McCarl, Gray, Martin, and Gunn. Howard led the way for the first seven laps, but Martin was slicing and dicing the competition. He moved into second by lap five. He rolled the outside of turn three to sweep into the lead when Howard hesitated momentarily after closing in on a lapped car. Martin pinned Howard behind that machine and never looked back.
While Martin was getting most of the attention, Shaffer was also marching toward the front. He passed nine cars in the first five laps and he had plenty of momentum. He reached second by lap ten and he was closing in on Martin as they worked through the heavy traffic.
It appeared as though Shaffer’s only shot at the leader would have to be in traffic. However, the only caution of the race came on lap 21, when Austin McCarl pulled his sputtering car off the track at the entry to turn three. McCarl was positioned too close to the racing surface to please race control, so the yellow was displayed.
Although that eliminated Martin’s shrinking margin over Shaffer, it also gave him a clean track to work with. When the green light flashed on again, Martin took off like a startled cat. He opened a three car length advantage over Shaffer instantly and continued to pull away in the remaining laps of the race.
Meanwhile, Howard was struggling to stay ahead of Smith in the final laps. Wright and Eric Riggins, up from
nineteenth at the start, were fighting for fifth. TMac and Gunn were holding off Leoffler and Max Stambaugh.
At the checkers, it was Martin by 2.056 seconds over Shaffer. Howard prevailed over Smith, with Riggens claiming fifth. Terry McCarl, Wright, Gunn, Stambaugh, and Cale Conley completed the top ten.
Six heats were held, with the winners hailing from six different states. Leoffler, Gray, Martin, Howard, Brown, and Gunn each saw the checkers first. Stambaugh, Conley, and Riggens won their respective B Mains. Forty-nine drivers from 18 states registered for this contest.
Support races were held for the Mini Sprints and Micro Sprints. Bruce Comer topped Jim Kradel, Don Quinn, Jojo Davis, and James McNulty in the Minis. Doug Dyal survived a one-lap dash to the finish of the Micro main which was shortened to ten laps due to attrition. Paul Seburn was the other finisher. Richard Sapp, Joshua Davis, and William Burnside were scored third through fifth based on laps completed.