LOCAL FAVORITES SMITH AND MATTHEWS TAKE FRONT ROW
TAMPA, FL Local favorites Shan Smith of Dade City, FL and Jeff Matthews of Dover, FL earned the front row starting spots on Friday night for the 100-lap $10,000-to-win 5th Annual NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series World Championship Race on Saturday night at East Bay Raceway Park.
Smith set fast time overall among the 60 entries with a lap around the 1/3-mile clay oval in 15.946 seconds and then won the first of six 20-lap heat races in the Seckman Fire Sprinklers TNT to earn the pole position for the main event. Smith turned the quick lap as the first qualifier on the first lap of group qualifying.
Matthews started third in the second 20-lap heat race and went on to win the race in the Night Hawk Towing Warrior to earn the outside front row starting spot for the main event. National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame Inductee Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, TN also started third and won the third heat race in the Miller Brothers Coal Warrior to earn the inside second row spot for the main event.
Mike Pegher Jr. of Wexford, PA will start the big show from the outside of row two after driving the Pegher Painting Rocket to a win in the fourth heat race. Stacy Roberts of Sylvester, GA won the fifth heat race in the Sunbelt Ford Rocket on Friday night to earn the inside third row starting spot for the big show on Saturday night.
The 2009 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Champion Eric Cooley of Fulton, MS held off Tim McCreadie of Watertown, NY to win the sixth heat race in the 78 Towing and Recovery Victory Circle By Moyer, and earn the outside third row starting spot for the $10,000-to-win main event on Saturday night.
The top three finishers from the six 20-lap heat races on Friday night transferred into the main event on Saturday night. Drivers that finished fourth on back in the heat races will have another opportunity to make the main event with a top finish in one of three B-Main races on Saturday night before the big show.
Two-time NeSmith Chevrolet DLMS National Champion David Gentry of Lewisburg, TN in the Turner Excavating DWB, and Dennis Franklin of Gaffney, SC in the Cherokee Landscaping Barry Wright transferred to the main event out of the first heat race, and will start seventh and 13th respectively.
Doug Horton of Bruceton Mills, WV in the Adams Used Auto Parts Warrior and Bryan Bernhardt of Clearwater, FL in the B&B Precision Mowing Rocket transferred out of the second heat race to earn the eighth and 14th starting spots respectively for the big show. Bernhardt finished third after starting ninth in the heat race.
Bernhardt was one of 13 drivers that were not permitted to attempt a qualifying run due to failing the pre-qualifying technical inspection due to the detection of illegal additives either in, or on their tires. The 13 drivers were allowed to buy new tires at the track and start on the tail of their group heat race.
Steve Francis of Ashland, KY will start the main event from the ninth starting spot after driving the Adams Used Auto Parts Rocket to a second-place finish in the third heat race. The 2006 World Championship Race winner Randy Korte of Highland, IL finished third after starting ninth in the Kehrer Brothers Roofing Rocket, and will start the big show from the 15th starting spot.
Korte was also not allowed to qualify due to a tire violation. Bernhardt and Korte were the only two of the 13 drivers ticketed for a pre-qualifying tire violation that came from the back of their respective heat races and transfer into the main event.
Rodney Wing of Meridian, MS in the Whynot Motorsports Park GRT and Rodney Melvin of Benton, IL in the Ricks Towing Rayburn finished second and third respectively in the fourth heat race. Wing will start tenth and Melvin will start 16th in the Saturday night main event.
Josh Holtgraver of Pittsburgh, PA will start the main event from the 11th starting spot after driving the D&T Auto Body Rocket to a second-place finish in the fifth heat race. Third-generation driver Wayne Reutimann Jr. finished third in the fifth heat race, and will start the Reutimann Racing Mastersbilt from the 17th starting spot in the big show.
McCreadie in the Miller Lite Rocket and the 2008 NeSmith Chevrolet DLMS National Champion Chip Brindle of Chatsworth, GA in the CSC Trailer Repair/Brindle Brothers Auto Parts DWB transferred out of the sixth heat race and will start the 100-lapper from the 12th and 18th starting spots respectively.
The other 11 drivers ticketed for a pre-qualifying tire violation were Randy Weaver of Crossville, TN, Todd Morrow of East Ridge, TN, Josh Peacock of Dover, FL, Travis Varnadore of Dover, FL, Steven Roberts of Sylvester, GA, Wallace Peacock of Dover, FL, Greg Satterlee of Indiana, PA, Aaron Heck of Mount Vernon, IL, Kenny Compton of Bland, VA, David Pollen Jr. of Tampa, FL, and Tanner English of Benton, KY.
The car of Russell Brown Jr. of Valdosta, GA was disqualified from the event during the pre-event technical inspection due to tampered sealing bolts on his engine.
Night two of the 5th Annual NeSmith Chevrolet DLMS World Championship Race at East Bay Raceway will be Saturday night with the gates opening at 4 p.m., and racing set for 7 p.m. The NeSmith Chevrolet DLMS cars will compete in three B-Main races and the 100-lap $10,000-to-win main event.
NeSMITH CHEVROLET DIRT LATE MODEL SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP RACE PRELIMINARY RESULTS AT EAST BAY RACEWAY PARK IN TAMPA, FL ON 12/11/09:
HEAT RACES (20 Laps Top 3 Transfer To Main Event):
1ST HEAT: 1. Smith; 2. Gentry; 3. Franklin; 4. Weaver; 5. J. Peacock; 6. Ford; 7. Morrow; 8. Varnadore; 9. Steven Roberts; 10. Buckingham.
2ND HEAT: 1. Matthews; 2. Horton; 3. Bernhardt; 4. McBride; 5. Kehrer; 6. Watson; 7. Cochran; 8. Gillman; 9. Peeples
3RD HEAT: 1. Johnson; 2. Francis; 3. Korte; 4. McElhenney; 5. Cobb; 6. Turner; 7. English; 8. Mathis; 9. W. Williams; 10. Cook.
4TH HEAT: 1. Pegher; 2. Rodney Wing; 3. Melvin; 4. Walters; 5. T. Erskine; 6. W. Peacock; 7. Lee; 8. Santel; 9. F. Erskine; 10. Winge.
5TH HEAT: 1. Stacy Roberts; 2. Holtgraver; 3. Reutimann; 4. Roger Wing; 5. Minga; 6. Boutwell; 7. McRee; 8. Henderson; 9. D. Williams; 10. Connor.
6TH HEAT: 1. Cooley; 2. McCreadie; 3. Brindle; 4. Satterlee; 5. Pollen; 6. Force; 7. Hitt; 8. Compton; 9. Rainey; 10. Heck.
ELITE 18 LINE-UP:
ROW 1: 17ss Shan Smith 33 Jeff Matthews
B-MAIN LINE-UPS (20 Laps Top 2 Transfer To Main Event):
116 Randy Weaver P19 Paul Walters
77m Jason McBride 55w Roger Wing
77c Brian Connor
28m Chris McElhenney 68 Greg Satterlee
10 Matthew Turner 69 Bryan Force