Neumann wins title despite DNFBy LOGAN NEILL
© St. Petersburg Times,
INVERNESS -- It wasn't the glorious way he wanted to win a championship, but Herb Neumann Jr. managed to walk away Saturday night from Citrus County Speedway with all the Late Model marbles.
Despite posting a Did Not Finish in the 30-lap feature, the Inverness driver earned enough points to mathematically clinch the division title over Dale Sanders.
"It's too bad how things worked out in the race because we were having a good night all around," Neumann said.
Neumann had moved from deep in the field and was about to pass leader Tuffy Hester when the two touched, sending Hester's car spinning. Officials ruled that Neumann's move was too aggressive and ordered him to the rear of the 25-car event.
"I disagreed with the call, so I just pulled into the infield," Neumann said. "It definitely wasn't a pretty way to win a championship."
By capturing his first Late Model crown at the speedway, Neumann was able to fulfill a goal for his late crew chief and car owner, Shorty Mills.
"Shorty was a good friend to a lot of people around the track, so I thought it would be fitting to do something special in his memory," Neumann said.
The commitment meant that the Mills Racing team, which normally competes at different tracks during the season, had to devote 32 weeks to racing locally.
"For me, it got a little tiresome being at the same track every week," said Neumann, who managed to drive his Bobby Clark R.V.-sponsored No. 38 machine to five feature wins -- the most of any Late Model driver this season.
For that reason, Neumann says he won't return next year to defend his title.
"We'll still race at Citrus part time, but I missed being able to drive the bigger races," he said.
HAGE IS FIGURE 8 CHAMP: Pinellas Park's Bob Hage wrapped up the title Saturday night with an eighth-place finish. He ended the season 23 points ahead of runner-up Robert Aaron.
STREET STOCK DISQUALIFICATIONS: The top two points leaders took a hit in the standings Saturday night after tech officials found rule violations in post-race inspections.
Points leader Travis Nichols was disqualified for an engine setback violation. Race runner-up Ernie Reed, Jr., who trails Nichols by 23 points, was disqualified for an illegal intake manifold.
The inquiries came about as a result of money protests filed by the competitors.
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