SPEEDFEST LEFTOVERS   by Jeremy Troiano & Matt Kentfield
Menard, Davidson, Skinner, Drawdy, Bendele, Kittleson & More
KITTLESON REDEEMS HIMSELF FOR FRIDAY NIGHT

Travis Kittleson always seems to be fast when he sets behind the wheel of his #88 Super Late Model.  But most of the time, he doesn’t seem to make it to the finish line for various reasons.

Friday night, this patterns continued for Kittleson.  He was running second and going for the win when the clutch went out on his car.  Saturday night though, Kittleson made up for it, finishing third in the 200-lap feature.
intentional.  I must have run side-by-side with him for at least 15 laps or so without touching him.  I wouldn’t do that to him for any reason.  I know he’ll understand.  If not, then I’ll have to remind him of how he took me out at the Triple Crown in 2003.”

And while watching from third, Kittleson had some kind words for fellow Florida driver Mike Fritts.

“I can’t say enough about Mike Fritts and his driving talent.  There aren't many better guys out there.   As for me though, he needs to earn some respect back from me for what he did to me during Speedweeks last year, but he is a great guy.”

FAIN’S FLIP GETS SPEEDFEST OFF TO SCARY START

The Speedfest 200 got off to a flying start…literally.  Fain Skinner provided some early excitement, but not the kind that the youngster wanted.
Travis Kittleson wipes down his car during practice at Speedfest.  (51 Photos)
A frontstretch melee on the second lap sent several cars into the wall, but Skinner’s contact was the most spectacular.  Skinner’s #1 machine was sent hard into the first turn wall, where the impact flipped his car onto its roof and then onto its side as body panels flew off. 

The car finally came to a stop between the first and second turns, but because it landed passenger side to the ground, it took safety workers several minutes to get Skinner out of the car.  Skinner emerged from the car after his scary crash but was released by medical personnel after a brief checkup.  Even when he got back to the pit area, Skinner was still a bit shaken up after the crash.

“Man, somebody hit me and put me in the wall,” said Skinner.  I don’t know what happened.  It felt like I was upside down and there was nothing I could do until I stopped.  I’m okay I guess.
Firemen rush to the scene of Skinner's turned over car.
“This was a lot better than last night,” said Kittleson.  “We had a lot better of a car last night, but this was a longer race and a lot more fun.  We had a bad set of tires early tonight.  The last set we put on though was phenomenal for the first 30 or 40 laps.  It was pretty good.  We still need to find the sweet spot on this thing, but other than that, I couldn’t be any more proud of this team.”

Kittleson’s night wasn’t completely without incidents though.

“We had some good races out there.  Me and Jason Boyd raced side-by-side a lot.  I took my eyes off of him to look at the lapped car and I must have got into the back of him and spun him out or something.  It wasn’t
HOFFMAN LEADS NORTHERN DRIVERS

The Northern drivers didn’t fare as well as they did at last year’s Speedfest.  That was when they took home the top-three spots and four of the top five. 

This time around, it was opposite.  The Southern drivers swept the top-four spots.  The only bright spot for the Yankees was Eddie Hoffman.  He proved to be the North’s best finisher and saved a Southern sweep of the top-five.
“You have to figure they have a little bit of an edge,” said Hoffman.  “It‘s their place.  We could have gotten our car a tick better, but we weren’t going to win the thing.  

"We got the North money.  It is something I guess.  We have a little bit of bragging rights when we start back up at home.”

Hoffman said he had his reasons for not being better.

“Those are my excuses and I’m sticking to them; the jumbled restarts, the lost engines, losing two or three spots here and there.  They got a straightaway ahead of me and I had to make it up. You know, I got all of the excuses. 
Eddie Hoffman
One Southern driver, Wayne Anderson, has always been big on the North vs. South mentality and stuck up for the South at every occasion.  But despite his seventh-place finish, he was more reserved this time around.

“If we ran up North, the North guys probably would've dominated the top five and top 10,” said Anderson.  “This is pretty much a home field advantage for us.  It's a great race track for these cars, but the guys up North race mostly at 3/8- and ¼- mile tracks.  They probably don't see too many tracks this size.  I'm sure that if we went up there then we'd struggle too.”

Eddie Hoffman led the Northern charge and said the home track advantage was big.

“You have to figure they have a little bit of an edge,” said Hoffman.  “It‘s their place.  They should run this well here.”

MENARD EARNS “SMART MOVE” AWARD

Little thought went into a minor move Charlie Menard made on Friday night at USA International Speedway for Speedfest.

But that move might have saved Menard a lot of hardships and problems.  And it allowed him to finish 14th in Saturday night’s 200-lap main event.
“One restart, we fell back when they got jammed up and I lost a spot or two.   The one that really hurt was when Mario lost a motor there or whatever and practically stopped on the track.  Fritts got to the inside of me and brought two guys with him.  It took forever to get by Middleton.  It took forever to get by Choquette.”

SOLID, NON-FLASHY RUN FOR CHOQUETTE

There is no doubt about it: Jeff Choquette had one of the fastest cars at Speedfest.  But he didn't have a winning car.  He had just a solid top-five car.  And that is where he finished, coming home fourth on Saturday night.

But at times, it looked like Choquette was back to his dirt track days, sliding his #70 sideways through the corners.

“We were sliding,” said Choquette.  “We were trying to catch those front guys.  If we could have gotten there, we would have tried to have raced with them.  Early in the race, it was bad loose off.  Then we came in, got the second set of tires and it was 100-percent better.  We just didn’t get the other yellow we needed.”

Even though he was fast, things didn’t go completely smooth for Choquette. 

“The first caution, we got hung up in fourth gear until we pitted the first time,” added Choquette.  “That put us at the end of the field because it took us extra long.”

Choquette was also impressed with fellow Florida racer Mike Fritts on his charge through the field.

“He is Mike Fritts,” added Choquette.  “He is a superhero of late model racing in Florida.  He is one heck of a driver.  He had the car underneath him to back up his driving.”

BRADBERRY’S GOOD RUN RUINED FOR SECOND STRAIGHT NIGHT
Charlie Bradberry had a big weekend planned for Speedfest.  He was making his debut driving the #112 for Augie and Frankie Grill and things were looking good.  However, in the end results were nothing special, but it wasn’t the fault of Bradberry or his team.

On Friday night, in the South 100, Bradberry had just grabbed the lead when he got a tap from behind from Mario Gosselin.  Bradberry was sent to the back and finished 12th.

In Saturday night’s 200-lap feature, things didn’t get much better for Bradberry.  After coming up through the field and gaining a lot of spots on his pit stop, Bradberry fell victim of another accident.
Charlie Bradberry (center) sits with car owner Frankie Grill (right) during practice.
“We had a great car and I was just trying to ride and stay out of trouble out there.  We pitted and the crew just gave me an exceptional pit stop that let me get all the way up to sixth,” added Bradberry.  “On the restart we still had a hundred laps to go and some guys were driving like it was the last lap.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  They were going two- and three-wide left and right.  I mean, there were still 100 laps to go.  Kittleson hit somebody and everyone started piling on. 

“We got taken out Friday and Saturday.  It’s tough.  I don’t know what the problem is.  I do know one thing.  I had the best car I ever drove.”

CHRIS DAVIDSON CAN’T BUY A BREAK

Chris Davidson was probably hoping for a better weekend than he got, but he walked away happy as it was.  Chris finished 13th in Friday night’s South 100, but was disappointed with the 35th in Saturday’s Speedfest 200.

“I guess we ran through some trash when they had that big wreck on the front straightaway early in the race,” said Davidson of his Saturday night performance.  “We got a flat.  We noticed it was flat under yellow and had to come in and change it.  Coming back to the green flag we had another flat and came in, but we lost a couple laps.  We went back out and ran for a little while until we knew we had a car that was at least decent before we decided to park it.  There was no sense in wrecking it when we were already a couple laps down.

“We learned a lot this weekend.  We struggled, struggled, struggled, but then we picked up almost three quarters of a second the last day.

“There’s nothing to complain about, I mean the car’s in one piece, which a lot of other guys can’t say tonight.”

SOUTHERN DRIVERS REACT TO SOUTHERN DOMINATION

When Saturday night’s 200-lapper took the green flag, there were 24 cars in the starting lineup representing the South, while 17 drivers represented the North.   While this showed a little bit of a Southern flare, it wasn’t indicative of how the race would play out.
The final results showed that the South really did have the best cars… at least this time around.

“Finally,” said Travis Kittleson, who finished third and helped the South sweep the top-four spots.  “Last year, we got our asses handed to us on a platter.  Now, we finally took it to them.”

Fellow Florida driver, Jeff Choquette, placed fourth and was equally happy.

“The southern boys got it this time,” said Choquette.  “That is better than last year.”
There were more Southern cars in the pits and more in the top-five and top 10 at the end of the night.
Menard, the defending Speedfest champion, was involved in the first lap accident and resulting fire in Friday night’s North 100.  As the fire began to burn, it was directly under Menard’s car.  However, with a little bit of coaching from his spotter, Menard restarted the car, grabbed a gear and backed out of the fire.

“I thought I was on fire,” said Menard.  “It was underneath my hood, so I was getting out.  My spotter told me to back up if I could because he didn’t think I was on fire.  But I backed up so quick I ran into the wall with the right rear, which I had to fix last night.  I have to thank my spotter.  I just got out of the car then and watched the other car burn up. 
Behind all of this fire is the car of Charlie Menard.  Luckily, he got out of it, along with his car.
“The way the car was burning, it would have been under our car and with all of the fuel lines and it could have been ugly for our car too.  Fire is a scary thing in racing.  I’m not scared of anything, but that fire is something you can’t control and it hurts very badly.”

By saving the car from being a total loss, Menard and his crew were able to fix things and come back for a solid run Saturday. 

“We had five hours of motor changes.  We had three or four hours of fixing the suspension.  Three hours of hanging a new nose.  That is for all five and six guys too.  It is probably about 150 man hours by the time you start figuring it all out.   It was a lot of work.  There was a lot to it to get this car right.

“It was an up and down weekend.  We dug ourselves such a deep hole when we first got here.  It is frustrating.  If it wasn’t for the crew and all of the hard work they put in, we wouldn’t have been here tonight.  We just never had track position all night.  We had a bad pit stop and we had to come back in.  We just never had track position.  Last year, we had track position and stayed out front.  This year, we never had track position and just tried to stay out of trouble near the back. “

RYAN WANTED IT FOR HIS DAD

Young Jacob Ryan couldn’t hold back his emotions.  Tears were in his eyes as his crew looked over the torn up #19 car that had been winning the race just laps before.  Leading the biggest race of his life on Saturday night, Ryan made contact with the lap car of Jeff Scofield on a restart.  Ryan’s car was sent hard into the wall and his emotions were sent into overdrive.
“It’s so disappointing,” said Ryan.  “We were quite a bit faster than the leaders.  We were going to stay out for another 30 laps or so and then come in later on to offset the pit strategy and have fresher tires for the end of the race than everyone else had.  The car was really good.  I wanted to get clear of that lap car going into the corner so that I could run and hide from the guys behind me that had the fresh tires.

“I got cleared by my spotter and came down, and then some asshole who was 10 laps down decided to keep his foot in it and ended our night.  That’s the story.  I’m really upset. 
Jacob Ryan comes back on the hook after getting wrecked while leading.
Adding to Ryan’s disappointment was that he wasn’t able to do well for his father who is fighting serious health issues.

“We came to a track for the first time and did not have a very good car.  Some of the best drivers around are here.  Guys like Kittleson and Bradberry, they’re the best and we were running right with them.  I just can’t describe how disappointed and upset I am right now.  Especially after yesterday when we backed it into the fence.  We got the car back together and to come back like that and have the day ruined like that is just so frustrating.  I wanted it for my guys and I wanted it for my old man.  He was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease recently and I wanted to do well for him more than I’ve ever wanted to do anything.”

JEFF SCOFIELD’S SIDE

Jeff Scofield saw the incident with Jacob Ryan as just a racing deal.

“Our spotters talked,” said Scofield.  “He was in the lead because he didn’t take tires.  I did take tires and started on the inside of the front row.  We communicated and agreed to have a clean restart.  You’re not allowed to pass until you get to the start finish line and by the time we got to the corner I was right at his door.  In the center of the corner he cut down on me.  I locked ‘em up and he never tried to correct it or anything.  I don’t blame him, it’s racing.  His spotter came over and apologized to us for it.”

UNCHARACTERISTIC MISFORTUNES FOR BEN ROWE
The Northern contingent had plenty of contenders at the start of Speedfest weekend, but none of them had anything for the Southerners by race time.  Ben Rowe had set fast time in one of Friday’s practice sessions and had raced well in the North 100 lap race, so he was one of the Northern guns that maybe could’ve taken a top spot from a Southerner.  Instead, around halfway his motor began to act up, forcing an early exit from the event.

”On the last caution I noticed that the motor had a little miss. I didn’t know if I burned a plug wire or what was going on.  Then the alternator quit and the volts started going down.  I’ve never had that problem before so it’s unfortunate.”
Even though his night ended early, Rowe was optimistic that he had a good run going and hopes to build on it at next year’s Speedfest.

“We had a good car and I backed up there at the beginning but after we pitted we worked our way back up to 10th or so.  We were running decent.  I shut all the fans off and turned all the electrical stuff down but we just ran the battery down.  We’re not a Cup team so we can’t change batteries in the span of two laps.  It’s just too bad to come all the way down here and have it end with something that stupid. 

“We’ll be back next year with the same car and hopefully get a better result out of it.”

USRA REGULAR SOLID

There were a few quiet drivers on the track Saturday night.  One of those was Brandon Bendele.

Bendele, a regular with the USRA Super Late Model Series in Texas, ran solidly in the top-15 most of the day before a clutch went out.

But his car did come home without a scratch.

“We had a decent qualifying run.  We through a whole new set up on the car before the race and that was the best the car had run all weekend,” said Bendele.  “We picked off some spots in the race and on pit road.  We even came out ahead of Mike Fritts.  That was cool.  We just ended up having a clutch go bad on us.

“I think we would have had a good shot at a 10th or 15th place run.  This is the first time all weekend long we had something to hang our head on.”

Bendele, who is one of the best in the state of Texas, plans to be seen more this year.

“We are going to try and run some more out of town races this year.  It was a lot of fun and I think the rest of the year will be as fun.”

STEVE CARLSON’S DAY ENDS EARLY
Ben Rowe's #00
Steve Carlson had a solid ninth place run in Friday’s North 100 lap race but he couldn’t back it up on Saturday.  Running mid-pack early in Saturday’s 200 lapper, Carlson’s car quit on him and he was forced to coast into pit road where his night ended.  He was credited with 36th but he wanted more.

“Something in the car shorted out and the motor just died.  Everything went dead.  I’m disappointed that this happened so early.  I actually had a pretty good car tonight.  Last night the car was junk but tonight it was a lot better.  We worked on it all day and I was hoping for better but what can you do?”
Steve Carlson's #66 practices on Saturday morning.
CRANE’S 12TH NOT WHAT IT SHOULD’VE BEEN

The story of the weekend at Speedfest in Lakeland, FL was that of tires.  Tires were an issue for competitors all weekend long, and it was no different for Florida hotshot Ryan Crane.

Crane finished fifth in Friday night’s South 100, then came back to finish 12th in Saturday’s 200-lap main event.

“We just had a bad tire situation this weekend,” said Crane.  “That simply explains it.  The front tires just went crazy on us.  We had more stagger in the front than we had in the rear on the first pit stop.  We just checked it again after the race and they were the same way.  We don’t know how that happens.  The tires started out perfect, then we come in and they’re all changed up.  The tires equalized and the air pressures changed.  There was nothing we could do about it. 

“I’m glad we didn’t tear our car up like most people did.  We’ve got a couple tire marks on the sides but at least the thing’s in one piece.  I can just throw some new decals on it and be ready to go.”

Despite the less than stellar results, Crane was still happy with his run, especially considering the caliber of teams that were at the event.

“There was a lot of great competition out there, but the tire situation really messed us up.  If we could’ve had better luck with the tires, I think we could’ve gotten at least a top five. 

FLAT COSTS QUERY A SHOT

Freddie Query doesn’t take to losing very well.  Most race car drivers don’t, but Query is one of the most intense characters on the track.  That’s why he didn’t mince words after a flat tire cost him a shot at the leaders.
“I had a flat tire and I had to go to the back,” said Query.  “After that, shit happens.  I just ran over something.  In fact, whatever I ran over blew a hole through the quarter panel. 

“Of course, I had to stop and we didn’t have anything to put back on other than the tires that we took off, so I was kind of loose the rest of the time.  We paid the price.  I had a pretty good car. I think had a top-five car.  I was running fifth when I that happened.”

Query’s Speedfest is not one of the most memorable events in his career.

It is bad disappointing.  This has been a bad weekend.  We
Freddie Query (middle) talks with CRA's Glenn Luckett (right).
weren’t good at all to start with and I got better by qualifying time and I got better today.  That makes you feel better when you do that.  I got a couple of luck breaks and missed some wrecks.  I was going to make to the end, but I got a flat tire.  That is the way racing goes.”
CASSILL COMES UP WITH ANOTHER ONE

Landon Cassill is anything but boring.  The youngster is openly friendly and talks to nearly everyone.  He’s witty and always has something interesting to say. 

Such was the case after Saturday night’s 200-lapper, where he finished 17th in a backup car after wrecking his primary on Friday night.

“We were just short on horsepower tonight,” said Cassill.  “That thing was wound up about as good as it would get.  We came from some bad luck last night.  At one point we were able to get our lap back from the leaders.  It is frustrating though, because the numbers just don’t show what they should. 

“I could have sworn the sign when you came into the track here said ‘no weapons allowed.’  There were definitely some weapons out there tonight.  It made it interesting to say the least.  We were just playing defense all night.  Those weapons out there had no clue though.  That made it tough on a lot of us.”

JASON BOYD MIFFED AT KITTLESON

Jason Boyd has seen plenty of success at USA International Speedway.  He won’t be adding any moments from this year’s Speedfest to his scrapbook, however.  His 30th place run was hardly what he was expecting.  Struggles early in the weekend and a crash on lap 104 put a damper on his Speedfest experience.
“We had a real bad weekend and we finally got the car to where I could drive it pretty good.  I started back there in 26th and made our way up to the top 15.  Everyone pitted around halfway and we decided to stay out and hopefully take tires around 50 to go. 

“I don’t really know what happened then.  We went down into the corner and next thing I know I was knocked out and turned around.”

After being knocked out of the race, Boyd hopped onto his golf cart and hunted down he crew of Travis Kittleson, who Boyd blamed the incident on.
Jason Boyd
“I don’t know what Travis’s deal was.  I tried to pass him earlier and he raced me like it was the last lap.  I understand someone racing me if we were at the front of the pack but when you’re racing side by side for 22nd, you’re just wearing your tires out and it’s just crazy.  I let off and got behind him three or four times and he was just out of control.  I finally got by him and I guess he got tired of me and figured he didn’t want me ahead of him.”

NORTHEAST WELL REPRESENTED BY CLARK, LAPERLE

Two of the drivers that made the long trip from the Northeast to Speedfest were Cassius Clark and Patrick Laperle.

Both drivers ran fantastic all weekend long, but both came out of Speedfest with different results.

Clark finished ninth, the best of any of the Northeast drivers in attendance, while Laperle was running in the top-10 before a second engine problem forced him into early retirement.
“We struggled all weekend, but we had a pretty good racecar for the race,” said Clark, a PASS regular.  “We had that long green flag run and we were as fast as the leader at that point.  But after that, we just ran out of time.  I got held up behind Wayne Anderson later.  We settled in there and got a top-10 out of it

“I though we’d do a little better.  I thought if we had longer runs, we would have done better. That is where we stand out. 

“We are down here for the first time, so I can’t complain.  When we come back next time, we’ll be better.”

Laperle, who actually hails from Quebec, had his second engine problem of the weekend.  His first broke during qualifying on Friday.

“Engine again,” said a disappointed Laperle.  “The grill was full of rubber.  Two engines, one weekend; bad weekend.   The car was good.  The first 100 laps, we pitted and took out the spring rubber in the right rear.  The car was really good in the corner.  I was missing just a bit of traction.  Next time, we’ll know.

“That is for sure.  I’m definitely be back next year for sure. 

“I’m pleased, because the day before, when we practiced was awful.   We had some help from the mike row team.  He said since we are from north, we got to help you.  We worked with Mario Gosselin a lot.  It was just the power.”
Cassius Clark (top) had a much better day than Patrick Laperle (bottom), even though both were fast.
BAD LUCK FOLLOWS JUSTIN DRAWDY

Justin Drawdy’s strategy for Saturday’s Speedfest 200 in Lakeland, FL was simple.  If he patiently worked his way up from his 16th place starting spot, a solid finish would likely be his.

The only problem was that not everyone on the track planned to be as patient.

A mid-race wreck ended Drawdy’s night and put a hurting on the front end of his #12 machine.  Even though he battled with the race leaders in the first half of the 200-lap feature, the destroyed race car and the 38th place finish told the story of Drawdy’s frustrations at Speedfest.

“We had a really good race car and we were coming to the front,” said Drawdy.  “A bunch of guys all got together coming off turn two and I had it missed but somebody came rolling off the wall and into me.  There was nothing he or I could’ve done about it.  All we needed to do was go single file for a few more laps.”

If the field had gone single file like Drawdy would’ve liked, his night probably wouldn’t have ended at halfway.
It would’ve gone similar to how his South 100 feature on Friday night went, when Drawdy stayed out of trouble en route to an eighth place finish.  His luck wasn’t the same on Saturday, however.

“Everybody was getting impatient after 100 laps and right after everyone gets tires.  With new tires, everyone thinks they’re Superman.  Then a guy who’s been running 20th all damn race gets stupid with new tires and wrecks the whole field.  It’s just a case of bad luck.  Everybody’s just impatient.  It should be a single file race at that point and guys were being careless.”

ONE FLORIDIAN HELPING OUT ANOTHER
After his motor blew with just a few minutes remaining in practice on Saturday afternoon, Auburndale, FL native Chris Fontaine was left scrapping to make a plan for the 200 lapper later that night.  Fontaine turned to fellow Floridian Jeff Choquette and after some discussions and some wrestling with the idea on Fontaine’s part, Fontaine was in the Speedfest 200 in Choquette’s backup machine.

“My car blew up with about five minutes to go in practice.  Now I’m taking their car and just going out there to test it out,” said Fontaine before Saturday’s qualifying for all drivers not locked into starting spots after Friday’s 100 lap races. 

Fontaine finished a disappointing 20th in the South 100.  Combine that with the motor issue in Saturday’s practice and
Chris Fontaine used a backup car for Jeff Choquette for Saturday's race. 
taking the risk of damaging his friend’s car, Fontaine was still unsure if he was going to get behind the wheel of Choquette’s backup even a few hours before the green flag.

“I’m not sure if I’m going to do it now or not,”   said Fontaine.  "I still don’t know if it’s worth risking wrecking somebody else’s stuff.  We know we’re going to have to start in the back, but when we went out to qualify today I was just so uncomfortable from the first lap in the car.  We’ll see.”

Sure enough, Fontaine was behind the wheel of Choquette’s car for the Speedfest 200.  He never was able to get to a comfort level that allowed him to make a charge to the front of the field.  After a weekend of disappointments, Fontaine was credited with a 38th place finish.

“We changed the seat up a little bit and tightened the car and tried to get all we could get out of it.  “The car just wasn’t comfortable for me and I didn’t want to risk wrecking it.  I was just trying to keep it in one piece for Jeff.  I wasn’t going to win but I definitely thank them for the chance to run their car.”

NO DOUBLE DIP FOR VAN METER

Speedfest Friday was much nicer to Eddie Van Meter than Saturday was.  It’s not that Van Meter struggled on Saturday, it’s just that when you win a preliminary event like he did in the North 100 on Friday, you expect to finish better than 10th in the main event on Saturday.  Alas, 10th is all that Van Meter could get.

“The night started off pretty good,” said Van Meter.  “We were decent until the pit stop and I told the guys to tighten it up.  We shouldn’t have done that.  We should’ve kept it loose.  There was a lot of beating and banging but that’s just racing. 

There was a lot of contact on the track, but Van Meter didn’t think there was too much of it.

“I don’t think anybody did anything that was too out of control tonight.  I knew that tonight would be tough.  We were pretty good last night when we just had the strategy to just go out there and keep the fenders on it and do the best we could.  Tonight we tried to do the same thing and we did but didn’t get the same result.  We ran up front for a while and we were there but I made the wrong call on the pit stop and it got us in trouble.”

JOHNNY CLARK IN THE HOUSE BUT NOT IN THE SEAT

One of the New England Super Late Model stars in attendance at Speedfest was Roush Racing's Driver X contender Johnny Clark.  The 3-time winner during 2005 wasn’t there to race, however.  As much as he wanted to be there racing along side the best Super Late Model drivers in the country, Clark’s plans weren’t able to solidify in time for Speedfest.
“My car wasn’t ready right now.  I purchased a new car in November and we were planning on bringing it here since we got it.  By the end of November, all of those plans were changed and we were trying to get a Busch East car going.  Those plans have fallen behind now.

“So we are down here helping all of the Maine boys.  We wanted to make sure the Northeast was represented well.  Cassius did well.  To come down here, the first time for him, he did a hell of a job.”

Clark’s plans for the upcoming season are starting to come together, although he’s still hoping for the elusive funding to make things work the way he wants.  One thing he does want, though, is to be atop the PASS standings at the end of the year.

“It is just a matter of financing.  I am about a quarter million shy of doing what I want.  Plans right now are to go PASS racing again in 2006.  We want to make sure a Rowe doesn’t win the championship.”

After watching his Maine buddies out on the track, Clark knows that he wants to get back to Lakeland.

“But I’m not coming back without a car, that is for damn sure.”
PASS regular Johnny Clark.
“I’ve raced for 20 years and I don’t consider a seventh a success,” said Anderson.  “At the same time to come out of here with a top 10 is good with the caliber car drivers that were here.  Still I’m better than that and the race team is better than than a seventh place finish especially with the shit tires at the end.”

Anderson was one of the more outspoken critics of the tire situation (for more on that story, check back to Speed51.com later in the week), but also realizes that between the carnage on the track and the iffy tires, his night could’ve been a lot worse.
GALE DOUBLES UP ON TRUCK WINS

After winning the first FASCAR Pro Truck event of the weekend on Friday, Cale Gale wasn’t about to let anyone take over his spot in Victory Lane in Saturday’s 50-lap Truck race.  Then again, nobody could touch Gale on Friday and it was more of the same on Saturday.

Gale checked out from the field after halfway to cruise to his second win of Speedfest weekend and his third win in Lakeland in three tries.

“I’m glad we got two in a row and now we can come back down here to New Smyrna for a couple weeks and hopefully win a couple,” said Gale.  I love this track a lot.  I’ve been here three times and I’ve won here each time.  It reminds me a lot of my home track in Mobile with the high speeds.  You have to really drive it as hard as you can at both places and that really fits my driving style.  You can get a truck really free here and since tire management really isn’t an issue you’re pretty much wide open the whole time with these trucks.

George Morales followed Gale to the checkers, followed by Brian Huff, Dalton Zehr, and Scott Bishop.

TOP-10 NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR ANDERSON

Some drivers would take a seventh place finish and consider it a success.  Not Wayne Anderson.
Wayne Anderson
“Well looking at a lot of damaged race cars I think I got out of this night pretty good with the car in one piece.  It’s a real shame the way the tire selection went.  We were last to get tires yesterday and these tires were just bad.  When I went out to scuff the tires we had today the car was just terrible.  I thought maybe everybody would have the same problem but my car just wasn’t good.  I had the worst tires at the worst time.  I wound up 7th but I had a lot better race car than that.”

DISAPPOINTMENT FOR BARNES AND PATE

Former CRA Champion Chuck Barnes was another of the drivers who left Lakeland bummed out with the results of his Speedfest weekend. 

“We were just struggling all weekend,” said Barnes.  “We tried to make the best of what we had here.  We started 21st and just kept fighting and fighting and we got the best finish that we could.  The competition here is always good.  You’ve got the best of the best here and there was no way we could run with them.  I just couldn’t get my car to rotate in the center.  It’s a fun race track and I’m excited to come back here next time in my own stuff and hopefully have something better.”

Barnes’s teammate for the weekend Jeremy Pate didn’t have any better of a Speedfest experience.

“It was a struggle,” said Pate.  “We had a great car last night and we could run in the top three or four all night last night.  We could run with the cars that won the race tonight, but we broke the rear end with 20 to go last night.  This morning we didn’t get any practice and we had to put a new rear end together.  We were going to put new brake pads on it and decided not to.  We had some brake issues tonight, the car wouldn’t really slow down like we wanted it to. 

We learned a lot for the first time being here with these cars.  We came here to win but once we lost a lap there was no reason to really push the issue.”