Mike Bresnahan, Mark Sowell and Chris Hooker fall short of winning a third consecutive race and the extra money that went with it.
By LOGAN NEILL
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 3, 2000
INVERNESS -- Citrus County Speedway promoters Steve Ziebarth and Billy Hookers were finally able to relax and put their wallets away Saturday night. None of the three drivers who were vying for three-wins-in-a-row bonuses were able to pull off the feat.
In a couple of instances, however, it got awfully close.
By choosing to start from the rear of the 12-car field, Late Model points leader Mike Bresnahan aimed for a potential $2,500 payout in the 30-lap feature. Within five laps he had moved up to battle front-runners Fred Stoner, Perry Lovelady and Ricky Carlton.
Trouble came for Bresnahan on Lap 7 when he was unable to slow up enough and slammed into the rear of Carlton's machine. Sent to the rear of the field for the infraction, the division leader once again threaded his way toward the front, but was unable to get by Lovelady.
Meanwhile, Stoner continued in command, finishing several car lengths ahead of Lovelady and Bresnahan to collect his first win of the season.
For Bresnahan, the challenge of starting from the rear was worth the effort as well as the heartbreaking results.
"That's how good our car was," he said afterward. "The only disappointment I have was not being able to race with Fred for the finish."
Defending division champion Danny Johnson finished fourth ahead of Carlton.
For two-time Mini Stock winner Mark Sowell, the only thing that stood between him and a generous three-in-a-row bonus was points leader and former division champion George Neumann.
Sowell spent all 20 laps hugging Neumann's rear bumper, looking for any opportunity to get by. His best chance came in the closing laps, but each attempt ended with the wily Neumann slamming the door. Frank Coleman hung on to finish third ahead of Mike Moore and Don Faunce.
Futility also was the watchword for Hobby Stock points leader Chris Hooker, who also was going for the triple-win bonus. The 16-year-old, looking to win the back-of-the-field challenge, found the prospect of weaving through 26 other cars a daunting task.
Hooker's purple No. 24 machine was hammered in three separate incidents, resulting in a dismal 11th-place finish for the driver who has claimed four victories this season. Winning honors went to J.D. Goff, who finished just ahead of Mike Ruff and Richie Smith. Allen Jacobsen captured the fourth spot, with Chris Cater finishing fifth.
Jim Smith, who jumped to the Sportsman division after winning last year's Mini Stock crown, outran challengers Bill Oestreicher and defending champion Mike Veltman to capture his first win. Though he has struggled to make his new ride competitive, Smith was in complete command of the quarter-mile oval, leaving Oestricher to outduel Veltman for second place. Travis Nichols and John Gann finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Street Stock points leader Wes Wilson made his third victory of the season look easy as he cruised to the checkered flag half a lap ahead of his father, Harley Wilson Sr. Back in the field, Kenny May, Don Teague and Sport Wilson diced back and forth before finishing in that order.
In the Street-Legal Junkers division, Doug Jenson outmaneuvered Shawn Kipp for the win.