McLeod Tops Pro Late Models 100
It’s often said that Friday 13th can make racers do strange things out on the track, but at Orlando Speedworld it seemed to bring out the best in the drivers as they put on a great show across 7 senior divisions and treated the fans to some great racing. Headlining the show would be the 100 lap race for Pro Late Models, but the regular divisions had their fair share of thrills and spills too.
The Pro Late Models are a new division for 2012, representing an updated version of the old Limited Late Model class. Fast qualifier #36 Devin McLeod, his number identifying him as the latest driver to sit in the car made famous by Tim Russell, would start on the front row alongside #127 Kyle Maynard. With the dropping of the green flag it would take the teenager McLeod rake until just the third turn to be in lead with Maynard and #27 Bobby Good dropping behind him. McLeod wasted no time in rocketing away and building a big lead as Maynard and Good fought for 2nd, while further back #15 Cody Blair and #19 Ray Black Jr were also battling it out for 4th.
McLeod’s lead would evaporate with 26 laps done as drivers and spotters reported debris on the track that needed removing, bunching the cars up again behind the pace truck. From the restart McLeod stayed clear at the point, but Good followed him on the low groove to snatch 2nd from Maynard. Worse was to come for Maynard as Black clipped his rear in turn 4, causing both to spin onto the front straight and forcing cars around them into emergency avoidance maneuvers. With both cars sent to the rear for causing the caution it was a great display of sportsmanship from Black to tap his roof as he passed the flagstand, indicating he was taking the entire blame for the incident, which allowed Maynard to restart back in position up at the front.
The spin had seemingly affected Maynard’s car as at the second attempt to restart the race he was helpless to stop Good and Blair from passing under him in pursuit of McLeod and soon Maynard was dropping back down the running order with obvious handling problems. Meanwhile at the front McLeod was again rebuilding his lead with Good in hot pursuit, while #54 Zach Harris was finding good speed to race for 3rd with Blair. The race would run incident free past the halfway point with McLeod and Good well clear at the front but plenty of action for the minor positions back through the field.
The race would run under the green flag until the 82nd lap when Blair’s car, whose motor had sounded on the verge of exploding internally for several laps previously, finally gave up with a whimper and he pulled to a halt by the start/finish line. For the restart McLeod would again pull away perfectly from the green flag and leave everyone else in his wake. Now Harris had the bit between his teeth and tried for 2nd under Good in turn 1, but his way past was confidently blocked, forcing Harris quickly onto his brakes.
With less than 10 laps left to go a solo spin for Harris out of turn 2 would group the cars back up one more time and give Good a final chance to make a run on McLeod, but even though he stayed level on the high groove for a couple of laps soon McLeod was pulling clear at the front. Black would get past Good to run second before dropping back down a position with 5 to go. As the checkered flags waved it was McLeod, making his first appearance in a Pro Late Model at Orlando, who took the well-deserved win, having led the entire race from the third turn of the first lap.
Good would have to settle for 2nd place but could be pleased with his race where for many laps he was the only car with any real chance of keeping up with the eventual winner. Black was rewarded for his earlier sportsmanship with 3rd spot ahead of Harris, who continues to improve in his Late Model. The top 5 would be rounded out by #00 C.J Castetter, who ran well and stayed out of trouble. Special mention should also go to #111 Donnie Williams, the Sportsman ace who put on a more than creditable showing after stepping up a division.
The Pro Trucks had started the evening off and provided one of the rarest spectacles in all of racing – a truck race that went flag to flag with no cautions! The race would be dominated by #31 Rodney Haddock, who pulled out a lengthy lead in the first half of the race, only to get reeled in by #58 Michael Lira and #77 Gavin Landers late on. Lira would make a bid for the lead with 2 laps to go but as he tried to go under Haddock into turn 3 he was blocked and forced to slam on his brakes. This saw him slide up the track and allow Landers underneath to steal 2nd place. Haddock would take the win ahead of Landers in 2nd and Lira in 3rd.
The E-Modifieds put on another great showing for the fans in a race that changed completely halfway through. All the early running was made by #38 Robert Glover but behind him there was plenty of action, and two early cautions caused by a solo spin for #25 Roger Benton and later contact between #10 Jeff Bailey and #00 John Hodge. The restarts would see Glover stay in the lead with #98 Matt Jarrett close behind in 2nd ahead of Hodge, Bailey and #15 Bruce Packer. But with 10 laps down an attempted pass on the low side by Jarrett saw contact with Glover than span both cars. Behind them #101 Jason Swilley had nowhere to go and crashed hard into Jarret’s car before leaving the track on the wrecker.
The restart shuffled up the remaining cars and put #11 Earl Beckner on pole. He would make the most of this and run trouble free to the checkered flag to seal another win. Close behind him would be Bailey, who enjoyed his best race so far in the open wheel division and was rewarded with a career best finish. Benton would come home 3rd just ahead of Packer, while Glover would limp home in 5th to complete the finishers.
The Legends race saw a smaller than usual field but plenty of excitement as #59 Becca Monopoli raced away into an early lead. She was soon chased down by #5 Kory Abbott, a young driver tipped by many to be a real star of the future. Abbott would pull clear but see Monopoli close in once more towards the latter part of the race. Unfortunately she ran out of laps to make a move and Abbot would take the win. Monopoli would finish 2nd, well clear of #3 Tyler Audie and #6 Jim Rix.
Early spins in the Super Stock feature broke up the flow of the race, but before long it was #16 Steve Daniels at the front, fighting off the attack from #29 Donny Funk. However all eyes were on the #60 car of Rich Clouser that had started scratch on the field but was carving its way through from the rear. By the time of the 2nd caution with 8 laps down it was Daniels and Clouser on the front row for the restart. Daniels, in his rookie season running the car taken to victory lane many times by owner David Gould, did well to hold of his more seasoned rival, but by the halfway point in the race Clouser had shown all his class to power around the outside to take the lead.
Clouser and Daniels would pull away at the front, leaving the fans to watch a hotly contested race for 3rd between Funk, #1 Dustin Turnage Sr and #60T Gino Tumminello, where nudges and rubs were being liberally handed out by all involved. Before too long Clouser was taking the checkered flag ahead of Daniels in 2nd, but neither would successfully pass through the tech shed, handing the win to Turnage with Tumminello awarded 2nd and #112 Shannon Kelly taking 3rd.
The Strictly Stock race would also feature plenty of contact between cars and a couple of early spins, but soon settled down with #51 Wes Railing, #3 Shane Sutorus and #8 Neil Kirby all pulling well clear of the field. There was a worrying moment just 6 laps in when #7 Frank Sutorus hit the turn 2 wall hard to bring about a caution, also bringing his son in the #3 over to check on his father’s well-being before rejoining the cars behind the pace truck. The same group of cars pulled away from the restart and other than a couple of tricky laps caused by #37 Charlie King dropping oil all over the track before pulling off, Railing came home untroubled for his 4th win of the season. Sutorus would take 2nd ahead of Kirby, while #81 Jimmy Barron and #00 John Townsend rounded out the top 5.
The Mini Stocks finished off the night’s action as #6 Mark Broat took the lead from pole position only to be passed by #19 Ricky Solomon out of turn 2. Solomon would hold onto the lead for a couple more laps but had no answer for #31 David Russell as he powered around him in turns 3 and 4 just before the halfway point of the race. Russell would never look back and take down another win in the division he continues to dominate, while Solomon again looked impressive with a strong finish in 2nd, coming home well clear of #14 Brad Blanton and Broat.
Next week sees the Sportsman cars take the main stage with a 50 lap feature, as well as the return of the Super Late Models. Also making appearances will be Open Wheel Modifieds, Legends, Super Stocks and Strictly Stocks, with admission prices being $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and military personnel, and free entry for kids aged 11 or under. Sportsman qualifying begins at 7.15 and feature racing starts at 8pm.Print This Post