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Big money event has speedway revved up

By LOGAN NEILL
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 24, 2002

Ten thousand dollars.

Never in its 47-year history has Citrus County Speedway offered a winner's purse of that size.

So it is not surprising to learn that promoters Billy Hooker and Jimmy Wear are excited about Saturday night's running of the Powell Memorial Late Model 125.

"It's kind of hard for us to stay still," Hooker said.

"So far we've got 44 cars pre-registered, and more calls are coming in every day," he said. "It could end up being one of the biggest Saturday nights we've ever seen at the track."

The generous purse has attracted the interest of about every top Late Model driver in Florida and beyond. Racers such as Billy Bigley, Jr., Mario Gosselin, David Reutimann, Jimmy Cope, David Pletcher -- some of whom have not competed at the speedway since their amateur days -- will be trying to make the 24-car field.

For Dick Anderson, the opportunity to run against the state's best is a not-to-be-missed experience.

"Big money races always bring out the best racers," Anderson said. "And when you go out on that track, you'd better be prepared because the guys you're racing against have all brought out their best stuff."

This will be the first time the speedway has played host to the seven-year-old event, which is considered a crown jewel in the southeastern Late Model scene.

Named in honor of longtime Ocala Speedway promoter J.H. "Buddy" Powell, who died with three other members of his family in a 1995 plane crash, the race has earned special significance with many drivers. "A lot of us who raced there came to know and respect Buddy for what he did for racing in central Florida," Anderson said.

"Billy and Jimmy should be commended for keeping that tradition alive and well," Anderson said.

Because of the large number of early entries, Hooker and Wear decided to add a B feature for competitors who fail to make Citrus County Speedway's main field.

"For a lot of these guys, it's like Daytona," Hooker said.

"It's a big commitment for them to come here, and we want to make sure they get the chance to race for our fans."

CITRUS COUNTY SPEEDWAY

WHAT: All classes (except Mini), plus the 125-lap Powell Memorial for Late Models. ($10,000 to win.)

WHEN: Saturday. Pit gates open at 2 p.m., grandstand gates at 4. The first heat race is scheduled for 6 p.m.

WHERE: Two miles south of Inverness on U.S. 41.

ADMISSION: Adult general, $12; seniors and students to age 17, $8; children 6-12, $6; children under 42 inches, $2; pits, $20.

INFORMATION: Call (352) 726-9339 or go online to www.citruscounty

speedway.com.

POINTS STANDING

SPORTSMAN: 1. Mike Veltman, 864; 2. Bill Oesterreicher, 712; 3. George Neumann, 584; 4. Mark Dominique, 552; 5. Terry Cater, 544

STREET STOCK: 1. (tie) Mike Bell, James Green, 648; 3. Travis Nicholes, 624; 4. Danny Cretty, 588; 5. Ernie Reed, 504.

MINI STOCK: 1. Robbie Yoakam, 894; 2. Rob Wheatley, 634; 3. Kevin Harrod, 566; 4. Jay McKenzie, 456; 5. Phillip Joyner Jr., 388.

HOBBY STOCK: 1. Tommy Smith, 854; 2. Richie Smith, 728; 3. Brandon Johnson, 508; 4. Roy Perkins, 494; 5. Daniel Webster, 490.

THUNDER STOCK: 1. Stuart Madison, 796; 2. Josh Teague, 766; 3. Robert Jordan, 718; 4. Lee Keller, 606; 5. Terry Sharrone, 552.

-- KEITH NIEBUHR

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