A packed house saw Desoto Speedway finish its 2015 season with a night of racing that saw several new faces in victory lane and champions crowned in all of the track’s racing divisions.
The Outlaw Modifieds kicked things off with the 25-lap Merle Caswell Memorial race. Tom Meyer grabbed the early lead and was joined at the front of the field by Billy Campbell Jr. and Mike Endee. North Ports Endee, who started eighth, worked his way to third at the end of the second lap and got by Campbell for second just four laps later.
Endee needed just a handful of laps to get to Meyer’s rear bumper and made several attempts to grab the top spot over the middle stages of the race. Meyer used the high line to hold off Endee through lapped traffic and appeared to be on his way to the win after Endee nearly spun coming off turn two with three laps to go.
As the white flag flew Endee rallied to make one last charge at Meyer, but the Pinellas Park driver was able to hold on for the flag-to-flag victory. John Parrish finished third.
The LKQ Pick-Your-Part Pure Stocks were next with a 25-lap feature event. Duane Best and Shane Leonard, who was debuting a brand new race car, staged a nose-to-tail battle for the first 22 laps of the race. As the field completed the 22nd lap Best suddenly slowed, which allowed Leonard to go by and drive away for the victory. Best held on for second, with Troy Theim finishing third.
Kyle Best, who dropped out of the race early with a mechanical problem, won the 2015 Pure Stock track championship.
Steve Darvalics from Venice, was looking to win the 25-lap feature and Desoto Sportsman championship on the final night of the season. He started deep in the field
and worked his way up to third behind St. Pete’s Roger Welch and Zephyerhills’ Brooke Storer when the caution flew for early leader Joey Simms’ spin on lap 8.
Darvalics waited patiently in third while Welch and Storer traded the lead several times over the next four laps. Welch broke loose in turn four, allowing Storer to take the lead and moving Darvalics to second.
Ben Kelly slowed on the track to bring out the second caution of the race on lap 12. Darvalics led a couple of laps on the restart before Storer re-took the lead on lap 15. For the next 20 laps Storer held off Darvalics and raced on to the win – and her first podium finish of the season.
“Coming to that checkered flag I almost had tears in my eyes,” Storer said in victory lane. “We’ve had such a rough year and it’s great to be back on the podium. To finally be able to celebrate like this is amazing.”
“She drove the wheels off that car,” said Darvalics, who clinched the Sportsman championship with his second place finish. “I tried to go outside and couldn’t do it. I tried to stick a nose under her…and couldn’t do it. She just didn’t slip up or make any mistakes. She really deserved to win.”
Welch finshed third.
In the 30-lap Winged Sprint Car feature, Troy DeCaire made a dramatic move on the outside at the green flag to go from his 10th place starting position all the way to second by the time the field completed the first lap. He needed just three laps to run down leader Shane Butler and took the lead with a slide-job pass on Butler on the seventh lap.
DeCaire was pulling away from Butler and the rest of the field when the caution flew for Terry Taylor’s stalled car on lap 12. On the restart, DeCaire pulled out to a straighaway lead over new second place runner Mickey Kempgens and third place Dave Steele, who both got by Butler on the restart.
Steele got by Kempgens for second with five laps to go and set his sights on DeCaire. With two laps to go DeCaire started getting extremely loose and nearly spun on a couple of occasions, but was able to hold on for the win.
“We started running out of fuel with two laps to go, and that makes these cars get really loose,” DeCaire said after his second win in the last three races at Desoto.
Steele and Kempgens rounded out the podium. Dave Retzlaff, who won a feature event in May, won the series points title.
The Mini Stocks finished off the night with a 25-lap feature event. Ren Wright Jr. went from deep in the field to the lead with a three-wide pass on the first lap. Ronnie Robinson and Johnny Marra followed Wright to the front of the field and were in hot pursuit of the leader when the caution flew for a stalled car at the halfway point of the race.
Wright and Robinson staged a nose-to-tail battle over the final 10 laps, but Wright held on for his second straight Mini Stock feature win. Jimmie Best finished third.
Marra, who was running third when he dropped out of the race, won the Mini Stock track championship.
The rest of Desoto’s 2015 champions were Dylan Bigley in the Turner Tree and Landscape Super Late Models; Doug Moff in the J.D. Byrider Open Wheel Modifieds; Mike Kerrivan in the Take Aim Gun Range Street Stocks; Lee Davis in the Pep Boys Speed Shop Modified Minis, Randy Spicer in the Desoto Bombers; Chad Chastain in the Q Auto and Injury Attorneys Desoto Pro Trucks.
Desoto Speedway will be closed next Saturday night and will host Monster Madness on Nov. 28.
-Desoto Speedway Press Release & Photo