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Anderson cruises to Sunbelt 125 victory

By LOGAN NEILL

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 10, 2001


INVERNESS -- Dick Anderson estimates that he's won 200 races at Citrus County Speedway since he started competing there in 1979.

Saturday night, he carved one more impressive notch in that record by capturing the Crystal Motor Car/Race car Engineering Sunbelt 125 in a flag-to-flag victory.

Anderson, the defending series champion, outran 25 of the state's best Late Model drivers to score his second series win of the season.

"We had everything working for us," said the Wildwood driver. "We didn't qualify well, but we were able to make some improvements, and that allowed us to get into the corners a lot better," Anderson said. "In fact, I was surprised at how well the car got around the track."

Anderson was flawless throughout, even though he knew his No. 92 machine hadn't been the fastest car of the night.

That distinction belonged to James Powell III, who turned an impressive 14.005 in qualifying. However, in a pill draw to determine starting position, Powell drew 10th to set up the inversion of the field.

That bit of luck gave the pole position to Anderson.

"I really didn't think I had much of a shot after I qualified 10th," Anderson said. "There were just too many fast cars to get around, and I probably would've been sitting back there a long time."

But when it came to earning the night's award for determination, that distinction probably would have belonged to runner-up Jeff Scofield, who was driving his first Late Model event.

"All I can say is wow, it feels good to run well against guys like this," Scofield said. After spending the past several years driving in the Southern Auto Racing Association's Sportsman division, he got the nod to drive from car owner Dan O'Connell just last week.

Thankfully for the team, Scofield's learning curve proved to be short. Starting from the fourth slot, he spent much of the race dogging Powell before finally getting by on Lap 75.

However, Scofield says he never felt comfortable enough to challenge Anderson for the lead.

"I tried a couple a couple of times near the end, but Dickie doesn't make many mistakes," Scofield said. "Every time I thought I had a chance, I'd look up and see James in my mirror right there waiting. The right opportunity just never came."

Anderson always didn't find the going easy. The caution flag flew 11 times for 28 laps (caution laps in the Sunbelt series are counted until the final 10 laps), and that made the going treacherous.

"We all pretty much ended up following each other around," said Crystal River's Danny Johnson, who finished sixth behind defending Late Model champion Mike Bresnahan. "I think I spent most of my time just trying to stay in one piece."

For his effort, Anderson took home $3,000 in prize money. Had he agreed to an offer by track promoters to start from his original 10th-place qualifying position, the victory would have netted him a $2,500 bonus.

SMITH CONTINUES STREAK: Richie Smith made his fourth consecutive trip to victory lane in a wild run from the 16th starting position.

Smith, who narrowly avoided an opening-lap crash, ran down front-runner Erica Wilson on the 18th circuit of the 25-lap feature.

The runner-up spot went to Wilson, who managed to hold off a late-race run by J.D. Goff and Roy Perkins, who finished third and fourth, respectively.

CITRUS COUNTY SPEEDWAY

Saturday's results

CRYSTAL MOTOR CAR SUNBELT SERIES 125: 1. Dick Anderson, 2. Jeff Scofield, 3. James Powell III, 4. Mike Fritts, 5. Mike Bresnahan.

STREET STOCK: 1. Harley Wilson Sr., 2. Travis Nichols, 3. Ernie Reed Jr., 4. Wes Wilson, 5. Kathy Ray.

HOBBY STOCK: 1. Richie Smith, 2. Erica Wilson, 3. J.D. Goff, 4. Roy Perkins, 5. Art Bruengingsen.

STREET LEGAL JUNKERS (RACE 1): 1. Gary Johnson, 2. Jerry Hoover, 3. Millie Miller, 4. Stuart Madison, 5. John Donahue.

STREET LEGAL JUNKERS (RACE 2): 1. Rick Badessa, 2. Allen Turner, 3. Jerry Hoover, 4. Gary Johnson, 5. Stuart Madison.

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