OCALA, FL – Dennis “Rambo” Franklin of Gaffney, SC is like the Coyote in the Road Runner cartoon when it comes to the Chevrolet Performance World Championship Race. He has tried for ten years to win the race, and has come so close only to have an anvil fall out of the sky to crush his chances. That all changed on Saturday night at Bubba Raceway Park.
Rambo conquered the World. Franklin drove the M&W Transportation Special to victory in the biggest race of the year for the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series, the 11th Annual Chevrolet Performance World Championship Race. Franklin, as the Coyote, captured the Road Runner in the form of Kyle Bronson of Brandon, FL.
But it wasn’t easy, as Franklin had to look out for anvils falling out of the sky during the last 11 laps of the 100-lap race, as Bronson made a sly Road Runner move. Franklin had taken the lead from Bronson on lap 26, and proceeded to set a fast pace. By the time a caution flag came out on lap 89, Rambo had put everyone from fourth on back at least one lap down.
Once the field slowed for the caution flag, Bronson headed for the hot pit area in the infield to bolt on a soft tire. The Hoosier Racing Tires the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series drivers can use are a Crate Racin’ USA 55 or a Crate Racin’ USA 21. The 55 is harder and lasts longer, while the softer 21 is faster, it doesn’t last as long.
Speed vs. Durability. Franklin had bolted on 55s at the start of the race. So, Bronson bolted on a new 21 for speed, while Franklin had on a 55 with 89 fast laps on it. So, let’s turn the channel to hear those famous words from Scooby Doo, “Rut Roe Raggy!” The NeSmith Late Model Rules state with you go to the pits under caution, you go to the tail of the cars on the lead lap if you can get back out before the green flag is displayed.
It was a perfect storm for both drivers. So what if Bronson gives up the second spot with 11 laps to go. When he comes back out, he restarts in third as the last driver on the lead lap. Add to that, the race was still outside the ten to go point when all restarts are single file. With 11 laps to go, the Dixie-Style Double-File Restart would see Bronson restarting right behind Franklin and alongside the second-place driver Cale Conley of Vienna, WV.
Conley chose the inside for the double-file restart and that put Bronson on the outside with a new 21 bolted on the right-rear. Franklin, the Coyote, was a sitting duck and you could hear the whistle of that anvil coming down from the darkness of a cool Central Florida evening.
The green flag came out and Bronson, the Road Runner, went to the top shelf where no driver had been for 40 previous laps. Franklin stayed glued to the bottom of the track trying to get the heat he needed to put his 55 to the test. Bronson went “Beep-Beep” as he got a run off the second turn on the high side, and his momentum launched him alongside Franklin.
The only problem with this scenario is that the electronic scoring of the race takes place on the other side of the race track. Bronson was not as sporty on the cushion through turns three and four, and couldn’t get off turn four like he could turn two. Franklin, on the other hand, came off the bottom of turn four like a shell fired from a howitzer cannon.
This scenario played out for seven laps before Bronson had to tuck in behind Franklin and try something else. Bronson reloaded for another shot at Franklin in the final two laps, but Rambo took a .716 second margin of victory under the checkered flag. The anvil missed its mark. The Coyote had finally defeated the Road Runner to collect $10,000 for his efforts.
“I can’t believe we have finally won this race,” Franklin said. “We’re been to every one of the ten races before tonight, and we led a lot of them only to have something go wrong to knock us out of the race. When I saw Kyle head for the pits for a fresh 21, I thought here we go again, but I decided to stick with the 55. It had got me to that point in the race, and I just had to stick with it. This is a win we will always cherish.”
Bronson, who had won a 50-lap NeSmith Late Model race earlier on Saturday, had to settle for second in the Brandon Ford Special. It was a pretty good two days for Bronson, has he also finished second in the NeSmith Late Model 50-lap race at Bubba Raceway Park on Friday night.
Conley, who is a former NASCAR Xfinity Series driver, showed his dirt track racing skills with a third-place finish in the AAA General Contractors Special. The drivers that finished fourth through tenth were one lap down to Franklin at the finish of the race.
The 2015 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Championship Runner-Up and the Cruise With The Champions Rookie of the Year Ryan King of Seymour, TN finished fourth in the Brian King Roofing Stinger. Trent Ivey of Union, SC took the fifth spot in the Ivey Construction Special.
Matt Henderson of Loudon, TN made the trip to Ocala, FL without his own race car and jumped into a car he had never seen before. Henderson took a provisional after finishing fourth in the 2015 NeSmith Late Model National point standings, started 23rd and finished sixth in Justin Williams’ Ditch Witch Special. Henderson was the Beyea Headers Hard Charger of the Race.
Sunoco Young Guns Challenge Series driver, 13-year-old Tyler Clem of St. Petersburg, FL drove the Vahlco Wheels Rocket to as high as third spot late in the race, but broke a right front shock. The Young Gun had to hang on to an ill-handing race car to salvage a seventh-place finish.
The 2014 Chevrolet Performance World Championship Race winner, Walker Arthur of Forest, VA finished eighth in the Cecil B. Arthur Beef Farms Beefmobile. Ryan Crane of Panama City, FL took the ninth spot in the Panama City Cycles Rocket, and Chase Edge of LaFayette, AL rounded out the top ten in the Edge’s Gas Company Special.
The next two events for the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series will be Rounds 4 and 5 of the RockAuto.com Winter Shootout Series at Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, GA on February 5 and 6. The February 5 show will be 40-laps and $2,000-to-win. The February 6 race will be 50-laps and $3,000-to-win.
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
OFFICIAL RESULTS OF THE 11TH ANNUAL CHEVROLET PERFORMANCE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP RACE AT BUBBA RACEWAY PARK IN OCALA, FL ON 11/20/15 and 1/30/16:
RESULTS OF EVENTS ON 1/30/16:
POS STRT CAR # DRIVER HOMETOWN LAPS $ WON
1. 3 2 Dennis Franklin Gaffney, SC 100 $10,000
2. 1 40 Kyle Bronson Brandon, FL 100 $5,000
3. 8 21c Cale Conley Vienna, WV 100 $3,000
4. 9 30 Ryan King (R) Seymour, TN 99 $2,000
5. 5 88 Trent Ivey Union, SC 99 $1,750
6. 23 1w Matt Henderson (R) Loudon, TN 99 $1,500
7. 16 14c Tyler Clem (Y/R) St. Petersburg. FL 99 $1,300
8. 14 87 Walker Arthur Forest, VA 99 $1.200
9. 10 10 Ryan Crane (R) Panama City, FL 99 $1,100
10. 2 18 Chase Edge LaFayette, AL 99 $1,000
11. 4 02 Keith Nosbisch Valrico, FL 99 $800
12. 11 19 Marcus Minga Shannon, MS 97 $700
13. 7 5 Mark Whitener Middleburg, FL 62 $600
14. 12 12s Michael Lake (Y) Uniontown, PA 51 $500
15. 6 21 Ivedent Lloyd Jr. Ocala, FL 35 $450
16. 19 B69 Bryan Bernhardt Clearwater, FL 34 $440
17. 13 00m Monte Skinner Saraland, AL 34 $430
18. 18 45 Shan Smith Dade City, FL 34 $420
19. 21 71 Hudson O’Neal Martinsville, IN 17 $400
20. 16 23 Jimmy Mac Mooresville, NC 12 $400
21. 17 58 Austin Kirkpatrick Reddick, FL 12 $400
22. 20 6 Blake Spencer St. Augustine, FL 12 $400
23. 24 77 Adam Bowman Seymour, IN 11 $400
24. 22 21b Tyler Bare Rockridge Baths, VA 11 $400