By Ronald L. Jerger, Jr.
Giving back to the fans was the theme of the evening with the bi-annual “Fan Appreciation Night” at the famed ½ mile high-banked dirt oval of Florence Speedway.
Starting with the reduced general admission price for adults at $10 and the extended intermission on the front stretch as all the cars on hand filled the track from turn three up to turn one for the 13th Annual “Meet & Greet” the cars and drivers that make Florence Speedway one of the best dirt racing venues in the country.
Fans of all ages took advantage of the unique opportunity to engage in conversation, photo and autograph opportunities of their favorite cars & drivers in all divisions. For some this was the first opportunity to witness first hand the look and feel of the unique racing surface along the front stretch.
In the Late Model 30 lap feature “The Modern Day Cowboy” John Gill of Mitchell, IN captured his 1st late model feature win at Florence Speedway in 2015. The 55 year young Gill piloted the TE Motorsports owned Rocket/Dickens/Impala SS, sporting the sponsorship of RJE Fertilizers, Seubert Calf Ranches, TE Motorsports and Genesis Shocks.
John Gill and Nick Latham brought the field to the starters stand. Gill on the inside took the point going into turn (2) with Latham, Bill Blair, Jr., Jason Whitaker and Steve Landrum in tow. Lap (2) Chad Smith entered the top five as he passed Whitaker and Landrum to take 4th. Lap (3) Smith moved into 3rd dropping Blair to 4th and 7th starting Ted Nobbe jumped into 5th. Lap (4) Landrum leaped his way back into the top five as he passed Blair and Nobbe into 4th. The first of only three cautions flew for the slowing #29x of Rob Adams. The ensuing Delaware double file restart had Gill out front with Latham and Smith in row two and Landrum and Blair in row three. As the green flagged waved it was now Nick Latham on the move as he hounded Gill for the point and then blasted by him off of turn four to take the lead on lap (11). Meanwhile 11th starting Robby Hensley got up on the wheel and took fifth place from Landrum on lap (9) and 4th from Blair one lap later. At the halfway point Latham was showing the way with Gill losing ground lap after lap and Smith, Hensley and Landrum trailing. Lap (16) 16th starting Jesse “James” Lay makes an appearance in the top five as he passed Landrum for 5th. Lap (18) Landrum takes 5th place back from Lay. As the laps counted down Latham had built up an insurmountable lead (nearly a full straightaway) over Gill. Lap (26) Latham laps 5th place running Lay. Now with the white flag waving for Latham he was well on his way to his first ever late model feature win at Florence Speedway. But as Latham was entering turn three his excitement would have to be delayed due to the spinning #316 of Joe Brewer on the exit of turn four bringing out the second caution of the event, with less than five laps remaining a single file restart would be the final act for Latham to play out. Latham would lead the field which had Gill, Smith and Hensley as the only cars on the lead lap. The green and white flagged waved and Latham while entering turns one and two jumps the cushion climbs the concrete wall, rides it for 50-75 feet nearly flips over but drops off crushing his hopes of his first feature win here at the speedway (he would retire from the event). The final restart had Gill inheriting the lead and holding off Smith at the checkers for his 1st late model “A” main of 2015 here at Florence Speedway.
Finishing 2nd Smith, 3rd Hensley, 4th Latham and 5th Lay.
The “Hard Charger” of the race was the #33 Jesse Lay of Walton, KY who started 16th and worked his way up to 5th.
In the Modified 20 lap feature “The Rocketman” Joey Kramer while making his 3rd appearance in 2015 notched his 1st feature win in 2015 here at Florence Speedway. Kramer would start from the inside pole position next to Aaron Pendleton and bolted out to the lead entering turn two, but Pendleton would spin and collect nearly a quarter of the field including current points contender Billy Vaughan (he would not continue). The double file restart would have all continuing competitors getting their original starting positions back. Start #2 would see Kramer once again take the lead in turns one and two and hold off the hard charging Jason Hollon. Lap (5) Hollon and Colin Green would get together coming off of turn two causing the yellow. The restart had Kramer out front with Ryan Morton, Pendleton, Andrew Corbin and Kris Kruetzkamp in tow, Before Lap (6) could be scored Corbin would spin causing the final caution of the event. The race would go caution free for the remaining (15) laps with Morton chasing Kramer for eight of them before the 16th starting Adam Stricker would overtake him and challenge Kramer. But the Rocketman lived up to his name as he held off Stricker and Morton over the final (7) laps for his 12th career feature win here at the speedway.
The 39 year old Kramer piloted the Claudette Kramer owned Lightning chassis powered by a Williams Precision power plant, and sponsored by Lucas Oil, Untamed Off road, Fox Shox, Landrum Springs, Fragola Performance Systems, AllStar Performance, Hill Historic Paintings, MPC Motorsports and Poske’s Performance Parts.
Finishing 2nd was Stricker, 3rd Morton, 4th John Rhodes and 5th Pete Holt.
The “Hard Charger” of the race was #59 John “Weasel” Rhodes of Winchester, OH who started 21st and sliced and diced his way to 4th.
2015 Florence Speedway entered its sophomore season of competition with our Crate Late Model class. In their 15 lap feature event Conner Meade would lead the first (2) laps before “The Modern Day Cowboy” John Gill while subbing for Tony Roland in the #28 entry took the point and survive three different restarts and holding off a charging and current points leader Grant Garrison by .148 seconds at the line for his 2nd Crate feature win and 2nd feature win of the night.
The 55 year old Mitchell, IN native was driving the Tony Roland owned Rocket by Lanigan/Crate/Chevy Impala SS, sponsored by Turfway Grill & Bar, Bleachers Sports Bar and Brewer Auto Body.
Finishing 2nd was Garrison, 3rd Meade, 4th Jeff Alsip and 5th Tom Collini.
The “Hard Charger” of the race was the #18 Trevor Landrum of Florence, KY who started 12th and finish in 7th place.
In the Pure Stock 15 lap feature Brandon Gibson of Dry Ridge, KY grabbed the lead on lap (7) over fourth starting Kevin Tuggle and cruised to his 7th feature win of 2015, the win keeps his streak alive as he has won all seven “A” main features competed for here at Florence Speedway.
The 33 year old Gibson piloted the Busse Racing owned Chevy Monte Carlo with a House Racing Engine under the hood and sponsored by Florence Winnelson, Burch Sheet Metal, Kims Pilot Car Service, D & Z Plumbing, Brewer Autobody, Webb’s Excavating, Bill’s Auto Service and Pine’s Mobile Home Park.
Finishing 2nd was Tuggle, 3rd Randall Lee Dooley, 4th Jerry Helton, and 5th Roy Beach, Jr.
The “Hard Charger” of the race was #37 of Gibson from Dry Ridge, KY who started 11th and carved up the field for the victory.
Florence Speedway’s 4th season of our rendition of the 4 cylinder front wheel drive class, that we call the Hornets saw Billy Gibson, Sr. lead flag to flag but was challenged the entire way by Jerry Gibson, III and crossed .827 of a second ahead. Billy held on for his 2nd “A” main in 2015.
The 44 year old Billy Gibson of Crittenden, KY, was making only his 4th visit to the speedway in 2015 payoff as he piloted his own Pontiac/Sunfire and sponsored by Bill’s Auto Service and Just Right Heating and Cooling.
Finishing 2nd was Gibson, III, 3rd Rickey Douglas, 4th Michael Hoffman and 5th Brandon Gibson, Jr.
The “Hard Charger” of the race was the #132 of Brandon Gibson, Jr. who started 13th and finished 5th.