CARTERSVILLE, GA – The 2015 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series season finale is this weekend with the $10,000-to-win 100-lap 11th Annual Chevrolet Performance World Championship Race at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, FL. The top dirt late model drivers in the country have this race on their schedule each year.
The two-day event will feature Qualifying and Heat Races to set the front half of the main event starting line-up on Friday night, and the B-Main Races to fill the back half of the field and the $10,000-to-win 100-lap 11th Annual Chevrolet Performance World Championship Race will be contested on Saturday night. There will also be an open practice session on Thursday night.
The Chevrolet Performance World Championship Race has taken its place in the sport as a festive event that showcases the getting together of top talent, new talent and the local talent looking to make a name for themselves on the national stage of dirt late model racing.
National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame Inductee Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, TN will be at Bubba Raceway Park this weekend to write another record-breaking chapter of his 40-year career. During qualifying on Friday night, all Johnson has to do is complete one of two laps and he will clinch the 2015 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Championship.
When that white flag falls over the Chattanooga Flash on his qualifying run, in addition to signaling to him he has one more lap on the clock, but it will also mark his unprecedented third consecutive NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Championship. In the first ten years of the series’ history, no driver has won three titles, let alone three straight titles.
The 2015 Cruise With The Champions Rookie of the Year will also be decided this weekend at Bubba Raceway Park. Ryan King of Seymour, TN has a 32-point lead over Matt Henderson of Loudon, TN. Another 2015 Rookie driver, Ryan Crane of Panama City, FL, is battling Johnson for the $1,000 Beyea Headers Hard Charger Award. Crane holds a 12-point lead over Johnson.
Johnson with 1,784 points holds an 84-point lead over King with 1,700 points in the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National point standings going into the last race of the season. Chase Edge of LaFayette, AL is third with 1,690 points, well within striking distance of a second-place finish in the season point standings.
Henderson is fourth in the NeSmith Late Model standings with 1,668 points, 22 points behind Edge and a part of a three-way battle for the runner-up spot in the National point standings. Crane has had a good season and he will finish his Rookie year fifth in the standings with 1,520 points. The top five drivers in the point standings have competed in all 21 races held so far this season.
So far this season, Johnson has one win, eight top five finishes and 16 top ten finishes. King has two wins, seven top ten finishes, 14 top ten finishes and two Fast Time Awards. Edge has one win, nine top five finishes, 13 top ten finishes and one Fast Time Award.
Henderson has two wins, a series-leading ten top five finishes, he is tied with Johnson with a series-leading 16 top ten finishes, and he also has a series-leading four Fast Time Awards. Early season problems when he missed three of the first five main events spoiled what could have been a championship season for the driver of the Duayne Hommel Tribute Car. Crane has been on a roll of late having turned in three top five finishes and nine top ten finishes.
Drivers that are in the sixth through tenth spots respectively in the NeSmith Late Model National point standings are Marcus Minga of Shannon, MS, Cody Martin of Christiana, TN, two-time series National Champion Eric Cooley of Fulton, MS, Justin McRee of Woodstock, AL, and Rodgerick Dykes of Smith Station, AL.
There is also a competitive group of drivers in the 11th through 15th spots in the NeSmith point standings that could race their way into one of the Top 10 points fund-paying positions with a good run in the Chevrolet Performance World Championship Race.
Top 10 candidates 11th through 15th respectively are Sunoco Young Gun Challenge Series driver 13-year-old Will Rowland of Jasper, GA, Michael Blount of Sumrall, MS, Todd Morrow of East Ridge, TN, John Ownbey of Cleveland, TN, and Cale Conley of Vienna, WV.
In the ten year history of the World Championship Race, some of the top drivers in the country have made last-minute surprise visits, which are shown on the Past Winners list. Jimmy Owens of Newport, TN is the only two-time winner of the World Championship Race, winning the inaugural race in 2005 and the 2007 race.
Other past winners if the World Championship Race are Randy Korte of Highland, IL in 2006, Shanon Buckingham of Morristown, TN in 2008, Tim McCreadie of Watertown, NY in 2009, Doug Horton of Bruceton Mills, WV in 2010, Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, GA in 2011, Ivedent Lloyd of Ocala, FL in 2012, and Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC in 2013.
Walker Arthur of Forest, VA is the defending champion of the World Championship race. Due to a rainout in November of last season, Walker came back on January 31 of this year to pick up the $10,000 top prize. Walker would love to take the World Championship loot to the bank for the second time in the same year.
While Lloyd kept the big money in the local economy in 2012, he’s always a threat to win at his home track. Lloyd will lead a very competitive contingent of local favorites that include seasoned veterans with NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series wins on their resumes, and one youngster that got the attention of the national dirt late model world in May of this season.
At the ripe of old age of 13; Tyler Clem of St. Petersburg, FL has gone from a young novelty to a seasoned veteran competing for wins against driver four times his age. Last November, Clem became the youngest driver to qualify for a World Championship at the age of 12.
In the first three NeSmith Late Model races of the 2015 season, Clem finished 6th on January 28, 5th on January 29, 7th on January 30, and then finished 7th on January 31 in the World Championship Race. On May 2 during NASCAR Weekend at Talladega Super Speedway, Clem competed with the NeSmith Late Models across the street at Talladega Short Track.
With many NASCAR dignitaries and fans in attendance, the 12-year-old Phenom turned heads and turned the atmosphere of the event electric by taking the lead on lap four of the 50 lap race, and then engaging in a side-by-side duel with the Hall of Fame driver Johnson for 27 laps. Johnson took the lead on lap 32, as Clem faded late in the race to finish fourth.
While Johnson picked up his only win so far this season, he climbed from his car pretty much unnoticed, as the crowds’ attention was on Clem. He has since reached his 13th birthday, but can Clem win the 11th Annual Chevrolet Performance World Championship Race at his home track? Just ask Ronnie Johnson!
Joining Lloyd and Clem as local favorites in the World Championship Race this weekend are Mark Whitener of Middleburg, FL, Keith Nosbisch of Valrico, FL, and 2013 NeSmith Chevrolet Rookie of the Year and National Championship Runner-Up Kyle Bronson of Brandon, FL.
Whitener won the NeSmith Late Model season opener at Bubba Raceway Park on January 28, and Nosbisch won Round 3 at BRP on January 30. Bronson won the last race for the NeSmith Late Models on October 17 at Golden Isle Speedway in Brunswick, GA in his first appearance of the 2015 season. Bronson also has a NeSmith win at Bubba Raceway Park in 2013.
The on track activity begins on Thursday night with an Open Practice Session from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. The pit gate opens at 5 p.m. on Thursday. On Friday, the pit gate opens at 12 noon with NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Pre-Race Registration and Technical Inspection from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Drivers Meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. with Hot Laps to follow.
On Saturday night, the pit gate opens at 12 noon with NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Check-In from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. All drivers must check-in during this time, or forfeit their starting spot in the Main Event or B-Main Race. The Drivers Meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. with Hot Laps to follow.
Bubba Raceway Park is located north of Ocala, FL at 9050 N.W. Gainesville Road, Ocala, FL 34482. For more information call 352-622-9400, or visit the track web site at www.bubbaracewaypark.com and on Facebook at Bubba Raceway Park.
For more information and rules about the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series, visit the series web site at www.nesmithracing.com, or visit the series on Facebook at NeSmith Racing. Becoming a fan of the NeSmith Racing Facebook page will make you eligible for special prizes that will be given away each month. You can follow us on Twitter @NeSmithRacing.
-NeSmith Racing Press Release & Photo