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Rookie holds off leader for big Hobby Stock win

Richie Smith beats division points leader Chris Hooker in the 30-lap special for his second victory.


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 30, 2000

INVERNESS -- Hobby Stock rookie Richie Smith has had quite an inaugural run at Citrus County Speedway this season, posting a win and three top-five finishes in 10 races. Saturday night he bested the efforts of fellow teen driver and division points leader Chris Hooker to capture the Goff Racing 30-lap feature event.

Though Smith clearly had the dominant machine in the early laps, Hooker used his considerable track experience to apply constant pressure in an attempt to pass the rookie. However, heavy slower traffic in the 28-car field proved to be the spoiler, forcing Hooker to settle for the runner-up position.

Defending division champion Roy Perkins was able to bounce back from two dismal weeks to garner third place ahead of J.D. Goff and Kreg Belcastro.

A healthy $1,300 winner's purse was not enough to attract more than 11 starters for the American Freightways 25-lap Late Model feature. However, it was quite sufficient to please John Lovelady, who snared a victory on his first outing at the track.

For Lovelady, good fortune came early when pole-sitter Brad Atkins slid wide into Turn 3, allowing him to take the point. Meanwhile, his father, Perry Lovelady, kept guard in the rear, holding off challengers to take second spot over Atkins. Danny Johnson and Mike Bresnahan, who finished fourth and fifth respectively, were the only others still running at the finish.

Sportsman division veteran Rex Struble was finally able to pull off his first win of the season by making a dramatic final-lap pass on Jim Smith. Smith, who was on his way toward a triple-win bonus, fell victim when he suddenly lost power in his No. 32 machine. However, he did manage to hold on for second ahead of points leader Mike Veltman. Mark Dominique and John Gann rounded out the top five finishers.

Rick Coleman led the largest Mini Stock field of the season to the checkered flag for his second win of the season. Coleman dashed from the outside pole position with points leader George Neumann in tow. Several times it looked as though Neumann had found a way around, but simply lacked the power to do so. Mark Sowell made a late-race charge from midway through the 17-car field to capture third ahead of Kevin Harrod and Frank Coleman.

In Street Stocks, Wayne Lewis topped a 25-car field to log his first victory of the season. Lewis' No. 28 racer looked as though it had power to spare as he jumped ahead of challenger Mike Bell on a late-race restart. However, had the 20-lap feature been much longer, he may not have been able to outrun Sport Wilson, who charged from 11th to third spot. Fourth place went to Mike Bresnahan, with Ernie Reed finishing fifth.

Joe Donahue claimed the win in the 10-lap Street-Legal Junkers division. Tom Holmes drove his 1990 Corvette to victory in the evening's fan participation feature race.

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