The Florida Late Model Challenge Series made its first 2021 appearance at East Bay Raceway Park, headlining a five-division program that also featured Street Stocks, V-8 Warriors, Q Micro Sprints and Gladiators.
Heat winner Nevin Gainey held the pole for the 25-lap main event as the 14-car field rolled off turn four for the green flag. Gainey wasted little time in building up a lead as the field began to string out in the early stages. Travis Varnadore held second, but only for a lap as Shan Smith, also a heat winner, worked around him for the second position on lap two. Smith set off in pursuit of Gainey, who hit lapped traffic by the fifth lap. As the laps ticked off under green, Smith would gain ground, only to slip back negotiating turn two. Gainey was picking his spots to bypass fellow competitors and this gave Smith a new chance. The lead duo was catching up to Waylon Haynes and Matt Herlong battling for position on lap 15 when a caution waved for a Thomas Burnside spin. On the restart, Phillip Cobb took over third, but the front two cars were able to keep the defending track champion from becoming a factor. Smith raced hard to catch Gainey and, on the white flag lap, looked poised to make a move. Gainey stayed committed to his line and charged home with the win.
The victory was Gainey’s second consecutive Florida Late Model Challenge Series win as the Fort White, Florida speedster took over the points lead in the series. Prior to the race, Gainey and teammate Richard Ferry were tied for the top position. Ferry claimed seventh in the main event.
William Burnside opened the night by parking his Q Auto & Injury Medical Malpractice Attorneys Micro Sprint in Victory Lane for the second time this season. Burnside was able to lead the entire race, but not without challenges from Mike Meyers and heat winner Doug Dyal. Burnside was up to the task in claiming the 15-lap win.
Richard Livernois Jr. went wire-to-wire in a 15-lap Street Stocks that nearly went caution free. The only caution came out on lap 14 for a Phillip Ellis spin, resetting the field and putting a hungry Jerry Bruce in a position to make a difference. On the restart, Livernois carried the lead into the first turn, but then saw the car push up in the second turn. Bruce saw the opening and attempted to power by, but heat winner Livernois would prevail. It marked the second consecutive week that Livernois and Bruce finished 1-2 in the main.
The V-8 Warrior main event became a classic example of “things aren’t always what they seem.” On the track, Michael Hart was able to hold off George Handy and second-place finisher Nick Brown after Hart had taken over the top spot on lap 7. At the finish, Hart crossed the line first, but a protest on a suspension part nullified the victory. The win was Brown’s fourth of the season.
The Gladiator feature got off to a slow start, but once the action was underway, it became intense. David Zeman possessed the early lead, but only until Wayne Kissam slipped by on the second lap. The best racing was not for the lead as defending track champion Daniel Bowman held off numerous competitors who wanted to take away his second-place position. Deeper in the field, drivers were mixing into the top five with position changes on nearly every lap. Bowman finally yielded second spot to Dalton Goldhammer, who had to over come adversity to have a chance. Goldhammer had a flat at the start of the race, but the crew was able to get the car back on track without losing a lap. He was then caught up in a lap two crash, but soldiered on. The end result was a second-place finish behind Wayne Kissam, who scored his second win of the year. Bowman and Rodney Martin were earlier heat winners. Second-year driver Callie Gubich scored her first career heat race win on the eve of her birthday.
Racing action will kick in on Saturday, June 19 with the running of the Larry Miller Memorial 50 for Gagel’s Open Wheel Modifieds. Joining them will be 604 Late Models, Outlaw 4s, Q Mini Sprints, V-8 Warriors, Mod Lites and Florida Old Time Modifieds. Special event pricing is in effect.
FLORIDA LATE MODEL CHALLENGE SERIES
Feature: Nevin Gainey (17G), Shan Smith (32), Phillip Cobb (03), Travis Varnadore (41), Stevie Mathis Jr. (95), Brenden Smith (17SSJr), Richard Ferry (17F), David Markham (515), Matt Herlong (131), Waylon Haynes (11), Daniel Woody (29), Thomas Burnside (13), Bill Adkins (26), Chuck Jackson (45)
Q MICRO SPRINTS
Feature: William Burnside (13), Doug Dyal (97D), Mike Meyers (77), William Brannon Jr. (60), Paul Seburn (23), Kaylee Dyal (11D), Joe Taylor (29)
Feature: Richard Livernois Jr. (71), Jerry Bruce (35), Jimmy Wagner (17w), Buck Woodhouse (55), Robert Allen (98), Brad Langford (B46), Phillip Ellis (29), Kyle Bowman (46K)
Feature: Nick Brown (12), George Handy (105), Tommy Hill (5H), Jason Burnside (12J), Gary Lucas (106), Wayne Kissam (107). DQ – Michael Hart (99)
Feature: Wayne Kissam (07), Dalton Goldhammer (18), Daniel Bowman (46), Charles Paris Jr. (03T), Robert Kissam (911), Rodney Martin (21), Ricky Rutledge Jr. (124), Thomas Adams (T2), Patrick Fiore (88), Daniel Casey (3D), Brett Calonge (09X), Timmy Simmons (16), David Zeman (13), Callie Gubich (513), Derrick Edwards (17), Alyssa Grant (47), Ricky Rutledge Sr. (4), Bubba Diaz (45), Brett Proctor (1). DNS – Jerry Moore (70), Davey Martin (55)