Hardy Captures Crate Racing USA 50-lapper while Webster Threepeats Top Gun

The final night of the third week of the 45th annual Winternationals came to pass after a brief afternoon shower cast a shadow of doubt on the whole proceedings. With most other Florida race tracks losing their events to Mother Nature, East Bay Raceway Park was able to run a complete event without delay.

The Crate Racing USA Late Model field was reduced as several competitors opted for a head start home rather than entering the night’s $5,000-to-win 50-lap feature. Still, there were 54 cars on hand, offering more competitors than last year’s highest car count.

The 2020 East Bay Raceway Park Pro Late Model track champion showed the visitors how it was done in qualifying, posting the fastest lap of the week as the only qualifier to drop below the 16 second mark. There would be six heats on the night with wins going to Braeden Dillinger, Travis Varnadore, Jason Welshan, Kyle Hardy, Cobb and Kyle Lukon. The three B-mains were won by Shan Smith, Cory Hedgecock and Jeremy Shaw.

A field of 26 cars would have a tough act to follow after the Friday 30-lap event went caution free. In reality, this night’s main proved even better as the field completed 32 circuits before the first yellow flew.

Travis Varnadore was the early race leader until Cobb blasted by for the top spot on lap 4. Lukon moved to second two laps later, bringing Hardy to third. Meanwhile, two-time feature winner Mark Whiutener, who had started in the fifth row, had worked forward to move into the top five by the ninth lap. The leader had entered lapped traffic on lap seven and Cobb was having little trouble bypassing backmarker. Hardy took second on lap 12 and began to chase down the leader. As the duo approached the flagstand, Hardy was in front by .009 seconds, the race’s third leader. As the race stayed green, Whitener would begin to pester Cobb, finally slipping through on lap 26.

The first yellow on lap 32 for a Jake Knowles incident left 24 cars still in contention and the second yellow showed up two laps later for a Keith Nosbisch issue and another caution showed on lap 36. In just a few laps, the race for the lead would again intensify. Whitener was looking for a lane and thought he found one beneath Delaware racer Ben Scott, but there was contact and Scott ended up in front of Hardy while Whitener spun but did not stop. The contact caused some damage to the right front of Whitener’s car and, although he started second, he began to drop back, putting Cobb as the heir apparent. Right behind Cobb was 26th starting Kyle Bronson, who looked inside Cobb in a bid for second. Hardy was able to get some breathing room and go on to take the checkered flag for the top prize.

For Hardy, it was vindication for a decision to remain as there was some discussion about making the 15-hour trip to Virginia, but the team opted to stay. Hardy praised the race track for its condition to allow multiple racing lanes, adding he was impressed in his first visit to the Clay by the Bay.

The Top Gun Sprints held their final 2021 Winternationals event with 23 cars on the grounds for the Saturday finale. Billy Bridges dominated the opening heat race, two-time defending champion A.J. Maddox captured the second preliminary and the third heat race saw the fans on their feet for the finish as Joe Zuczek edged Robby Hoffmann by .007 seconds. The heat winners now had their sights set on the $600 offered in the Jeff & Lee Barfield Memorial Clean Sweep.

With fast cars on the front row, it did not take long for the action to get intense. Two-time feature winner Justin Webster rocketed off the pole for the lead as the front cars quickly caught the back of the field. Webster would see a challenge from Hoffmann early on, but the mastery of lapped traffic was again on display. At one point, Webster swept around five cars in the third and fourth turns to find some free space. The position battles were taking place from second back as Shane Butler was finally able to  bypass Hoffmann for second on lap 16.

With all of the action around the race track, the only thing missing was a caution flag as the field of 21 starters kept the caution flag in its holder from start to finish. Webster was able to add his third straight birthday, celebrating his mother’s birthday with a 25-lap victory. The winner told the crowd how the crew found a broken valve spring keeper in an engine inspection and, with the help of other teams who had spare parts and tools, the eventual winner was able to be competitive on the third night of action.

The Crate Racing USA Late Model Series will move on to Clarksville Speedway in Tennessee for their next event February 25-27. Top Gun Sprints will resume their season on March 6 at Hendry County Motorsports Park.

Crate Racing USA

A Main: Kyle Hardy (14C), Phillip Cobb (03), Kyle Bronson (40B), Mark Whitener (5w), Jason Welshan (01), Kyle Lukon (184), Jake Rainey (87), Shan Smith (32), Joseph Joiner (10), Steve Mathis Jr. (95), Dylan Knowles (66K), Trevor Collins (24), Travis Varnadore (41), Braeden Dillinger (14), Drew Kennedy (37K), Tom Fiebelkorn (45T), Derrick Shaw (27), Chad Osterhoff (19), Cory Hedgecock (23), Benjamin Scott (80), Michael Maresca (15), Jeremy Shaw (1s), Keith Nosbisch (02), Frankie Lloyd (2), Jake Knowles (66), Mack McCarter (51)

Top Gun Sprints

A Main: Justin Webster (21), Shane Butler (18), Robby Hoffmann (9H), Garrett Green (82), Kyle Connery (91), Steve Diamond Jr. (9), Billy Bridges (11B), Tyler Clem (6S), Brandon Grubaugh (G6), Will Hull (61), Kristina Pratt (61), Joe Zuczek (50), Larry McVay (83), John Kahl (13K), Tyler Orzechowski (38), Steven Muller (50K), Scott Baldwin (4), Andrew Griffin (32), Andy Cobb (1C), Tim George (1*). DQ – A.J. Maddox (3A)

Thursday Winners Repeat in Friday Racing Action

It was déjà vu for night number two in the week of the action with Crate Racing USA and Top Gun Sprints taking part in the 45th annual Winternationals. Mark Whitener returned to victory lane in the 30-lap Late Model race while Justin Webster made it two-for-two in Sprint racing.

A field of 77 Crate Racing USA 604 Late Models filled the pit area, setting the stage for eight heat races, which would send 16 drivers to the A main. The preliminary events were won by Kyler Lukon, Phillip C Cobb, Dylan Knowles, Logan Roberson, Mark Whitener, Tanner Collins, Jeremy Shaw and Tom Fiebelkorn. The balance of the A-main group came from four B-mains, which were taken by Jake Rainey, Cory Hedgecock, Nevin Gainey and Kyle Hardy.

The 30-lap feature was completed in 8 minutes and 51 seconds, running caution free with exciting action all over the race track. Lukon grabbed the early lead and set the pace that sent the leaders into lapped traffic by the sixth circuit. Thursday winner Mark Whitener stalked Dylan Knowles for second, finally making the pass on lap 13 for the runner-up spot. As Lukon wound through traffic, Whitener closed the gap, moving inside on lap 22 to contest the top spot. That attempt did not yield a lead change, so Whitener tried the high side three laps later. This maneuver would prove fruitful as Whitener took the top spot for the second consecutive night.

The Thursday non-qualifiers dash, postponed to Friday, was won by Shan Smith. Michael Maresca, in his first start of the week, took the Friday non-qualifiers.

 

Night number two of the 2021 Top Gun Sprints season saw plenty of excitement. Four-time and defending series champion A.J. Maddox grabbed the lead at the start from the outside front row spot. An early caution  bunched the field with Thursday winner Justin Webster sitting in second. On the restart, Webster and Butler were swapping position until heat winner Robby Hoffmann took command of the runner-up spot on lap six. While Butler began to fade, Webster renewed his challenge, catching and passing Hoffmann on lap 18 and wasting no time to get around Maddox for the first lead change of the race. The caution came out for a Hoffmann spin and it looked like Webster’s pass would have been for naught, but the lap counted and the new leader would be in charge at the green flag. Garrett Green, who started 15th and Danny Martin, who had visited the pits early and re-started from the tail, shot by Maddox to hound Webster. Martin would gain second on lap 22, then grab the lead at the line on lap 23. With the white flag waving, Webster regained the lead and the two raced to the checkered flag. At the finish line, Webster prevailed by 0.036 seconds for his second consecutive win.

Joining Hoffmann as heat winners were 2020 East Bay Raceway Park Sprints champion Steve Diamond, Brandon Grubaugh and Tyler Clem. None of the heat winners were able to claim the Lee and Jeff Barfield Memorial Clean Sweep award, which will increase to $600 for the next event.

The final night of East Bay racing for the Crate Racing USA Late Models and Top Gun Sprints as part of the Winternationals will take place on Saturday night with the Late Models seeing $5.000 awarded to the feature winner.

Crate Racing USA Late Models

A Feature: Mark Whitener (5), Kyle Lukon (184), Dylan Knowles (66k), Jeremy Shaw (1s), Logan Roberson (17R), Keith Nosbisch (02), Cory Hedgecock (23), Doug Horton (46), Jake Knowles (66), Joseph Joiner (10), Jake Rainey (87), Nevin Gainey (17), Drew Kennedy (37K), Colton Leyendecker (33), Kyle Hardy (14), Tom Fiebelkorn (45T), Cody Smith (3), Hunter Sweet (15), Jason Welshan (01), Mac McCarter (51), Tanner Collins (24), Braeden Dillinger (14), Bo Slay (2s), Richie Stephens (00), Kyle Bronson (47), Phillip Cobb (03)

Top Gun Sprints

A Main: Justin Webster (21), Danny Martin Jr. (24), Garrett Green (82), Tyler Clem (6S), A.J. Maddox (3A), Brandon Grubaugh (G6), Robby Hoffmann (9H), Ethan Barrow (14B), Andy Cobb (1C), Shane Butler (18), Will Hull (61), Tim George (1*), Kyle Connery (91), Kristina Pratt (83K), John Kahl (13k), Joe Zuczek (50), Tyler Orzechowski (38), Steve Diamond Jr. (9), Larry McVay (83), Jimmy Miltner (4×4), Chris Hahn (2), Scott Baldwin (4), Billy Bridges (11B), Dylan Colding (23D), Andrew Griffin (32), Matt Wedgewood (15W)

Whitener, Webster Winternationals Winners

Over 100 cars were in the pit area Thursday night for the next action of the 45th annual Winternationals as the Crate Racing USA 604 Late Models and Top Gun Sprints opened three nights of action. The 78 cars in the 604 Late Models far exceeded last year’s car count of 49 as drivers came from as far away as Minnesota and Texas to compete for the $2.500 top prize in the feature.

Middleburg, Florida veteran Mark Whitener recorded the top qualifying time, dipping below 16 seconds with a 15.995 in the final group. Heat races were won by Richie Stephens, Jeremy Shaw, Ashton Winger, Joseph Joiner, Dylan Knowles, Kyle Lukon, Nevin Gainey and Whitener.

There were four B-mains, each adding two more to the A-main field. Those late chance races were won by Logan Roberson, Colton Leyendecker, Winter Shootout point leader Jason Welshan and Garrett Mosley.

A field of 25 cars were presented for the 30-lap main event with Cory Hedgecock utiling a provisional for the final spot. Joiner grabbed the lead at the start with Whitener and Kyle Lukon right behind. Virginia racer Kyle Hardy began using the outside to charge into the top five as the front of the field began to encounter traffic on lap 5. The first caution came on lap six with Iowa’s Todd Cooney slowing on the track. When the green came back out, Joiner used the clear track in front to pick up an advan tage and keep his opponents at bay. Whitener began to reel in Joiner and the field raced to the line on lap 14 with Whitener inching ahead. Fortunately for Whitener, the caution flag for a Keith Nosbisch issue came out after the lap had been scored and there was a new leader. On the next restart, Hedgecoock, who had started last, moved from seventh to the top five. With 10 laps to go, Joiner took a shot to the inside in hopes of a pass for the lead, but Whitener prevailed. The Joiner challenge would end on lap 24 when the Milton, Florida competitor would leap the turn three cushion and climb the wall. Joiner’s misfortune moved the consistent Lukon to second, but Whitener was able to prevail on the final six circuits for the win. The victory makes Whitener the fourth different winner of the Crate Racing USA Winter Shootout in as many races.

The Top Gun Sprints opened their 2021 season with their traditional visit to the Winternationals. A field of 28 cars made their way to the pit area and squared off in four heat races. Each winner of the heat races would put themselves in position to claim the $300 Lee and Jeff Barfield Memorial Clean Sweep bonus if they could back up the preliminary win with a feature victory. Heats were claimed by Justin Webster, Robby Hoffmann, Ethan Barrow and Garrett Green. For Hoffmann and Barrow, the wins came in their first starts with the series. Andy Cobb led the field of qualifiers from the B-main with a decisive pass around early leader Tim George.

The 25-lap feature race required three attempts before the green flag would stay out with Green holding the lead over Shane Butler and Webster. BY the fifth lap, Webster started making his move to the front, passing Webster and, one lap later, moving by Green from a lead he would never relinquish. Green retired on the next lap, giving Webster a clear track in front, but that would only last two laps until the leader charged into lapped traffic. Weaving his way masterfully through the backmarkers, Webster was able to send the message of “catch me if you can” to the rest of the field as no one could get close to the eventual winner.

The first red flag came out with five laps remaining when Nathan Barouch climbed the turn two wall and toppled over. The driver was unhurt. Shortly after that mishap, Butler and Danny Martin Jr. made contact with Martin clipping the front of Butler’s car, sending him airborne.

The Top Gun win for Webster provided vindication for the hard-working Webster family operation that endured setbacks in 2020 through mechanical failures and hard luck. The win gave an extra $300 for the Lee and Jeff Barfield Clean Sweep Award and the message was clear. It is going to be “21 (Webster’s number) in ’21 (the year)” for the upcoming events.

Both divisions return to the track on Friday for the second night of the three evenings on the schedule.

Crate Racing USA A-Main

Mark Whitener (5) Middleburg, Fl., Kyle Lukon (184) Burgettstown, Pa., Cory Hedgecock (23) Loudon, Tn., Ashton Winger (12) Hampton, Ga., Kyle Hardy (14) Linden, Va., Frankie Lloyd 92) Jacksonville, Fl., Jake Rainey (87) Powder Springs, Ga., Dylan Knowles(66K) Lanett, Al, 9. Jake Knowles (66) Rome, Ga., Jeremy Shaw (1S) Millport, Al., Logan Roberson (17R) Waynesboro, Va., Jason Welshan (01) Rockford, Tn., Chris Bragg (24B) Springtown, Tx., Garrett Mosley (38M) Lawtey, Fl.,  Drew Kennedy (37K) Wartburg, Tn., Joseph Joiner (10) Milton, Fl., Richie Stephens (00) Phenix City, Al., Kerry King (K8) Delmar, De., Phillip Cobb (03) Dover, Fl., Keith Nosbisch (02) Valrico, Fl.,  Nevin Gainey (17) Ft White, Fl., Colton Leyendecker (33) Holt, Fl., Mack McCarter (51) Pigeon Forge, Tn.,  Todd Cooney (30) Bondurant, Ia.,  Tyler Riggs (99T) New Matamoras, Oh.

Top Gun Sprints A-Main

1. Justin Webster (21), 2. Danny Martin Jr (24), 3. Robby Hoffmann (9H), 4. AJ Maddox (3A), 5. Tyler Clem (6S), 6. Larry McVay (83), 7. Ethan Barrow (14B), 8. Brandon Grubaugh (G6), 9. Will Hull (61), 10. Luke Hill (41) 11. Tyler Orzechowski (38), 12. Kristina Pratt (83K), 13. Tim George (1*), 14. Shane Butler (18), 15. Dylan Colding (23D), 16. Scott Baldwin(4), 17. Andy Cobb (1C), 18. Steve Diamond Jr (9), 19. Billy Bridges (11B), 20. John Kahl (13K), 21. Nathan Barouch (13), 22. Garrett Green (82,) 23. Rick Dietz (15), 24. Andrew Griffin (32)

Attention 604 Late Model and Top Gun teams

Teams arriving early to attend the open practice session on Wednesday, February 3 will not be allowed to park rigs in the pit area until mid-day Wednesday. That area has been closed for cleaning and preparation for the three nights of action to follow on Feb. 4-6 and will re-open mid-day. Parking will be available in the track’s main parking lot until the pit gate is opened.

Thanks for your cooperation and good luck this weekend.

Monday All-Star Event Cancelled

 

Heavy rain and overnight flooding forces East Bay Raceway Park to cancel Monday program

TAMPA, Florida (February 1, 2021) – Heavy rains throughout the evening hours on Sunday and into early Monday morning have forced All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 and East Bay Raceway Park officials to cancel Monday evening’s Sugarlands Shine Southern Tour presented by Elliott’s Custom Trailers and Carts racing program. The event will not be rescheduled.

Overnight downpours created heavy flooding in East Bay Raceway Park’s infield, as well as on parts of the racing surface. Track officials did their best to pump the water away from the track, but officials were left with no time to recover.

The All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 will return to East Bay Raceway Park on Tuesday evening, February 2. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., sharp.

For those who can not make the journey to Tampa for the East Bay visit, FloRacing, the official media partner and live broadcast provider of the All Star Circuit of Champions, has you covered. Each and every event on the 2021 All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 schedule will be broadcast live exclusively at www.floracing.com.

Phone and Internet issues

East Bay Raceway Park is currently experiencing issues with phone and Internet service. This does not impact tonight’s planned racing as the All-Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 will contest the next leg of the Sugarlands Shine Southern Tour.

Thank you for your patience…see you at the races.

Notice Concerning Thursday’s Lucas Races

Wednesday’s Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series program was halted during the second B-main due to a downpour. There was no further racing on Wednesday night.

Series officials have determined the schedule for Thursday, January 28

Regular Thursday program will begin with hot laps at 5:30, followed by qualifying, heats and features.

Following the regular Thursday program and a brief track prep session, the remainder of the Wednesday program will be completed.

Patrons with Thursday tickets will be admitted to the grandstands beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday, January 28

Patrons with Wednesday tickets (who do not have Thursday tickets) will be admitted AFTER the Thursday program is completed.

All pit passes must be Thursday pit passes. There will be no Wednesday pit passes accepted.

As a reminder, East Bay Raceway Park does not permit outside food and drink to enter the grandstand area. Cups, such as insulated cups and Yeti cups, are not permitted. Anything in violation that is found in the grandstand area may be confiscated by track officials. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.