Largo's Hunt holds on for win; Street Stock competition heats upBy BOB DOYLE
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 28, 2002
Two important stories unfolded during Saturday's Street Stock race at Sunshine Speedway.
The first concerns the feature winner, Largo's Pat Hunt.
Driver of the No. 54 car, Hunt began on the outside of the first row. At the drop of the green flag, he pulled ahead of his competition, pole starter Harold Ashley, No. 27 of Gulfport, and never took his eyes from the prize.
Hunt's only competition came toward the end when two of the class' best, Dave Ochsenwald (No. 61) and Roger Welch (No. 98), both of St. Petersburg, landed within passing range of Hunt thanks largely to a restart.
With two laps to go, the crowd collectively drew its breath in anticipation of the final showdown. Racing resumed, and Hunt successfully held off Ochsenwald as the latter racer attempted to maintain his place against Welch.
Coming out of Turn 4 in the 20th lap, Welch got his nose inside the No. 61 but couldn't muster the power needed to overtake him. Ochsenwald placed second, and Welch was third.
The second story concerns every Street Stock driver who has made a run for the points crown at Sunshine.
Probably the most competitive division, every victory is a milestone. In a class influenced heavily by the regular occurrence of drivers not qualifying for the feature due to congested heat and consolation events, every inch gained throughout the season is worth more.
Welch and Ochsenwald entered the night maintaining the third and fourth places in the standings, respectively, separated by only four points. Ochsenwald's finish means both drivers are in position to clean up should the other have a mishap.
All it takes is one bad heat race, one blown tire, and a first-place point-count suddenly is worth considerably less.
Ochsenwald, a six-year Street Stock veteran, has come up with two feature wins this season.
He credits much of the success to his "consultant," Late Model driver Wayne Bowman, for whom Ochsenwald is a pit-crew member when that class runs at Sunshine.
"I just can't say enough about those guys (Bowman and his brother, Ralph)," Ochsenwald said. "When he's here, Wayne is right there to give me advice as soon as I get off the track. I can't stress enough how heads and tails over everybody they are."
Besides having the Bowman brothers in his corner, Ochsenwald is supported by his 15-year-old son, Derek, as well as two teammates.
NOTES: John Gerstner took the victory in Modifieds in his No. 20 after starting on the pole.
He was followed by Pinellas Park's Herman Brame (No. 55) and Corky Craver (No. 11) of Pinellas Park.
The Outlaws raced thinner than usual Saturday. A few early dropouts whittled the body of the division down to six cars to cross the finish line.
Robert Crisp (No. 2) of Clearwater took home his ninth consecutive feature win. Pete Coon (No. 27) of St. Petersburg nabbed second, and Pinellas Park's Ed Kidd drove his No. 6 to third.
Jay Zolciak (No. 61) furthered his quest to elevate his points position in Mini Stocks with a victory.
Steve Martin finished after Zolciak in the No. 7, and Tommy Bower (No. 51) of Pinellas Park took third.
Donnie Thomas (No. 40) of Pinellas Park won the Figure 8 feature.
Art Calkins (No. 11) of St. Petersburg provided relentless pressure to the leader throughout the race but was unable to pass. Pinellas Park's J.R. Meyer (No. 21) placed third.
Russell Scalf (No. 91) won in Enduros.
Randy Spicer (No. 98) of Palm Harbor took second, and Steve Elder (No. 42) of St. Petersburg was third.
Matt Crooks (No. 81) posted a victory in the bathtub race.
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