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.
The night started with the reduced general admission price for adults at $10. Then add the much anticipated extended intermission for the “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 and back stretches.
The race day would start with a pesky rain shower right before activities were slated to start causing a slight delay for hot laps. But the weather forecast and the racing action defiantly improved as the night progressed.
In the Late Model 30 lap feature “The Silver Shark” Scott James of Harrison, OH piloted the DPL Consulting / James Motorsports owned Rocket/Dargie/Camaro and sponsored by Powell Leasing Services, DLP Racing, State Dock Lake Cumberland, Kay Bar C Bucking Bulls, Sparklin Acre Farms, Jerry’s Truck and Diesel Repair, Joseph Stocker and Sons and New Era Recycling. Scott made it back to back wins here at Florence while notching his 18th career feature at the speedway since 1997.
Nick Latham and James Rice brought the field to the starters stand. Latham from the inside pole took the point going into turn (2) with Rice, Chad Stapleton, Devin Gilpin and Robby Hensley in tow. Lap (2) Rice would overtake Latham for the lead. With Rice showing the way the early race pace was fast and furious as the leaders were only a handful of car lengths apart as they approached lap traffic on lap (7). Lap (11) Hensley gets by Gilpin for 4th. On lap (15) Hensley grabs 3rd from Stapleton and 7th starting Scott James finally crack the top 5 by dropping Gilpin to 6th. Up front Rice was holding his own keeping Latham and now Hensley at bay. But one lap later Latham and James would slip by Hensley for 2nd and 3rd. “The Silver Shark” would have his way while circling the high side chomping at the competition lap after lap. James moved into 2nd on lap (19) sniffing the scent of the leader Rice. Lap (20) brought out the first of five cautions over the final (10) laps. The Delaware “Double file” restart had Rice out front with James and Latham in row two and Hensley and Gilpin in row three. One lap later the yellow flew for the #98 & #47 of Mason Combs and Tom Webster. The top 5 remained the same until the next lap was scored as Hensley climbed the outside concrete wall in turns one and two rode on it for 50 feet or so, then just as he was about stopped the teetering car rolled over onto its top. The race went red immediately and Hensley was extracted from the inverted racer within moments (He was uninjured). Lap (22) double file restart now had Rice out front with James, Latham, Gilpin and Stapleton still in attack mode. Lap (26) Gilpin takes 4th from Stapleton. Then the 4th yellow would fly for the #98 of Combs resetting the field for a four lap dash to the finish. With less than (5) laps remaining, a single file restart was in order. The showdown would have Rice out front and James, Latham, Gilpin and Stapleton in tow. One lap later James would pass Rice for the point but before lap (29) could be scored the race would see its final caution as #84 Bill Blair, Jr., #4 of Tripp Gerald, #33 Jesse Lay and #316 of Joe Brewer came to a stop only a few yards from the flag stand, the multi car incident blocked the track which resulted in the second red flag of the race. The two lap dash to the finish proved to be anti climatic as James pulled away from Rice for the win.
Finishing 2nd James Rice, 3rd Gilpin, 4th Latham and 5th Stapleton. The “Hard Charger” of the race was the #33 Jesse Lay of Walton, KY who started 20th and posted a 9th place finish.
In the Modified 20 lap feature Brandon Green notched his 1st of 2015 at Florence Speedway.
Devin Gilpin while pulling double duty had garnered the inside pole position for the feature, just posted a quality 3rd place finish in the late model feature, would lead lap (1) over outside pole sitter Pete Holt. Holt would hunt Gilpin lap after lap until lap (13) was scored as he lost 2nd to the hard charging Brandon Green. Green after starting 6th had capture 5th on lap (1), 4th on lap (2), 3rd on lap (3). Green turning faster lap times then Gilpin reeled him in (6) laps later as he led the field on lap (18) pushing Gilpin to 2nd. Green would not be denied leading the final (3) circuits to cruise in Florence Speedway victory lane.
The 42 year old Green piloted his own Nemesis chassis powered with a Dargie racing engine, and sponsored by Complete Towing and Complete Auto Care.
Finishing 2nd was Gilpin, 3rd Holt, 4th Billy Vaughan and 5th Ryan Morton.
The “Hard Charger” of the race was #33 Michael Gemmer of Crittenden, KY who started 19th and sliced his way to 10th.
In the 15 lap Crate Late Model, last week’s popular 1st time feature winner Jeff Alsip would lead the first (12) laps and looked like two in a row was insight, but the #1 of Grant Garrison had other ideas as he himself was looking for his 3rd “A” main of 2015. The battle didn’t last long as Garrison would hold off Alsip and a hard charging Adam Bowman over the final (3) laps to capture his 5th career “A” main here at Florence Speedway.
Garrison was driving the Mark Garrison owned Club 29/Chevy Camaro, sponsored by Darrell Lanigan Racing, Gotta-Go Rentals and Septic Services, Slick Rollers and Nickerson & Trantor Appraisal Services.
Finishing 2nd was Shawn Snelling, 3rd Alsip, 4th Jordan Hedger and 5th Steve Pyles. The “Hard Charger” of the race was the #94 Jordan Hedger of Independence, KY who started 11th and moved up to 4th.
In the Pure Stock 15 lap feature Brandon Gibson of Dry Ridge, KY grab the lead on lap (8) over Randall Lee Dooley and held off the field over the final (8) laps for the victory.
The 33 year old Gibson drove the Busse Racing owned Chevy Monte Carlo with a House Racing Engine under the hood and sponsored by Florence Winnelson, Burch Sheet Metal, Kim’s Pilot Car Service, D & Z Plumbing, Brewer Autobody, Webb’s Excavating, Bill’s Auto Service and Pine’s Mobile Home Park.
Finishing 2nd was Dooley, 3rd Tim Brearton, 4th Roy Beach, Jr, and 5th Donnie Maxwell. The “Hard Charger” of the race was #37 of Gibson who started 11th and won.
Florence Speedway’s kicked off the 4th season humming in our Hornets division. The 12 lap feature event saw front row outside starter Drew Thiel past pole sitter Kyle Purdy on lap (3) and held off the ever present #329 of Michael Hensley over the final (8) laps for his 1st “A” main here at Florence Speedway in 2015 and his 3rd career at Florence Speedway.
Drew was driving the Richard Houston owned Chevy Cavalier, sponsored by Mike’s Garage and ALS Association of Kentucky.
Finishing 2nd was Hensley, 3rd Willie Butler, 4th Ryan Eversole and 5th Carson Freeman. The “Hard Charger” of the race was the #28 of Hunter Scherder who started 13th and finished in 8th.