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Late Model leader Neumann has extra fuel in his tank

By LOGAN NEILL

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 18, 2001


Late Model veteran Herb Neumann, Jr. admits he returned to Citrus County Speedway full time this season with just one real mission: to win a championship and dedicate it the memory of Shorty Mills.

Neumann, who hasn't put in a full season of competition at the track since 1994, thinks it would be the greatest honor he could bestow on his longtime friend and former chief mechanic. Mills passed away last November.

"Shorty was a big part of this team for many years," Neumann said. "He drove the car, did all the work on it and never got much recognition for it.

"When he retired, I was the guy he and Mac (Mills) wanted to take over," Neumann said.

Neumann, who assumed the Late Model points lead with a second-place finish last week, thinks he is on track to deliver the crown. With two feature wins to his credit, plus several top-five finishes, he's certain the car will get even better as time goes along.

"We had some problems early on, and we got a little behind (in points) till we got them straightened out," said the Inverness driver. "Now, it's a matter of concentrating on winning races. The points will take care of themselves."

Neumann is no stranger to points racing.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s he was a perennial track favorite, racking up four Limited Sportsman division titles before leaving to drive for Mills Motorsports in 1995.

With Mills, Neumann continued his winning ways, snaring Ocala Speedway's Late Model crown in 1997. But due to what he perceived as a lack of commitment to Late Model racing, Neumann limited his time at Citrus to a handful of events each year.

"It used to be you'd run against the same dozen cars every Saturday. It wasn't much fun," he said. "Now, they have 24 or 25 cars there and it's much more of a driver's race."

The pursuit of a championship has rekindled his interest in racing, says Neumann, who changed his car's number back to the original No. 38 that Shorty Mills had.

"Racing for a championship is not as easy as it seems," Neumann said. "You've got to stay committed all season. The way the points are, it's hard to make up ground if you fall too far back.

"I think we're able to relax more now, but that may not be the case later on," he said. "You just hope you can build on it each week."

CITRUS COUNTY SPEEDWAY

WHAT: Short-track stock car races in Late Models, Sportsman, Mini Stocks, Street Stocks, Hobby Stocks and Street-Legal Junkers classes.

WHEN: Saturday. Grandstand gates open at 4 p.m. The first heat race is scheduled to start at 6:30.

WHERE: 2 miles south of Inverness on U.S. 41.

ADMISSION: $10 adult general, $8 seniors and students to age 17, $2 children under 10, free under-12 child admission with paid adult and $20 pits.

INFORMATION: (352) 726-9339.

POINTS STANDINGS

LATE MODEL: 1. Herb Neumann, Jr. (218), 2. John Chance (207), 3. Tim Sharrone (200), 4. Dale Sanders (196), 5. Billy Bechtelheimer (193).

SPORTSMAN: 1. Mike Veltman (307), 2. Sport Wilson (298), 3. Rex Struble (281), 4. Mark Dominique (263), 5. Bill Oesterreicher (256).

STREET STOCK: 1. (tie) Travis Nichols, Harley Wilson, Sr. (292), 3. Dean Lawyer (288), 4. Mike Bell (282), 5. Victor Stanley (279).

MINI STOCK: 1. Don Faunce (265), 2. Frank Coleman (259), 3. Kevin Harrod (258), 4. Mike Moore (247), 5. John Coleman (236).

HOBBY STOCK: 1. Richie Smith (376), 2. Roy Perkins (296), 3. Art Brueningsen (277), 4. Brandon Johnson (273), 5. J.D. Goff (261).

FIGURE 8: 1. Bob Hage (172), 2. Charlie Meyer (158), 3. Robbie Hage (150), 4. Peanut Higginbotham (148), 5. Robert Aaron (138).

STREET-LEGAL JUNKERS: 1. Stuart Madison (312), 2. Gary Johnson (282), 3. Rick Bedessa (272), 4. John Donahue (266), 5. Jerry Hoover (264).

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