OCALA, FL – No matter where the competition comes from, Keith Nosbisch of Valrico, FL has always been tough when it comes to keeping the big money in the Sunshine State. Friday night was no exception, as Nosbisch took his fifth NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series career win and his first in seven years during the Rock Auto.com Winternationals at Bubba Raceway Park.
Nosbisch, a 30 year veteran of Florida dirt late model racing, was the class of the field, as he set fast time honors to earn the pole position for the 50-lap race, and led 44 laps to collect the $3,000 top prize driving the Image Skin Care Rocket. Nosbisch lost the lead for six laps to Walker Arthur of Forest, VA, but stuck to his inside groove to retake the point.
“The lapped cars really slowed my pace down by a half a second, and Walker caught me behind a lapped car and passed me for the lead on the outside,” Nosbisch said. “I knew if I was patient enough, I could get back under him if the lapped cars would give me enough room and they did.”
Wednesday night’s race winner, Mark Whitener of Middleburg, FL finished second in the Dave’s Towing Special and Arthur ended up third in the Cecil B. Arthur Beef Farms Special. Arthur leads the NeSmith Late Model point standings after the first three races with a 12 point advantage over Whitener.
Dennis “Rambo” Franklin of Gaffney, SC took the fourth spot in the M&W Transportation Special and Matt Henderson of Loudon, TN drove the Mighty Muffler and Brakes Rocket to a fifth-place finish and was the Rookie of the Race. Doug Horton of Wimamma, FL finished sixth in the Bobby Lake Motorsports Warrior.
Tyler Clem of St. Petersburg, FL was the seventh-place finisher in the Vahlco Wheels Rocket and was the Young Gun Challenger of the Race. Clem, who at the age of 12 was the youngest driver in the race, was followed by the oldest driver in the race, 61-year-old Johnny Stokes of Columbus, MS, who finished eighth in the Bassett Hound Motorsports Special.
Jake Knowles of Rome, GA started 17th and finished ninth in the Coosa Heating and Air Rocket to earn the Beyea Headers Hard Charger of the Race Award. Two-time and defending NeSmith Late Model Champion Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, TN rounded out the top ten in the NeSmith Chevrolet Special.
In preliminary action, Nosbisch was the Fast Qualifier with a lap around the 3/8-mile clay oval in 16.252 seconds. The four ten-lap B-Main Races were won by Franklin, Justin McRee of Woodstock, AL in the High Roller Race Cars Special, Henderson and Whitener.
Nosbisch took the lead at the start of the race followed by Arthur, Whitener, McRee and Franklin. McRee got by Whitener for the third spot on lap two, but up front, Nosbisch was pulling away and had a full straightaway lead on Arthur by lap six when he began to encounter the cars on the tail end of the lead lap.
On lap 12, Nosbisch got caught behind a lapped car and Arthur worked the outside on the backstretch to take the lead. On lap 18, Nosbisch came charging back on the inside and went four-wide with Arthur and two lapped cars down the front straightaway. Nosbisch reclaimed the point for good in turn one.
Brian Conner of Augusta, GA spun the Lazar’s Trailers Special in turn two to bring out the first of eight caution flags in turn two. Nosbisch had Arthur, McRee, Whitener, Henderson, Franklin, Horton, Johnson, Stokes and Jacob Hawkins of Fairmont, WV in the Bland’s Towing Rocket doubled up behind him for the “Dixie-Style” double-file restart.
When the field went back to green flag racing, Whitener was able to work underneath McRee for the third spot in turn two. By lap 25, Nosbisch had already opened up a half straightaway lead on Arthur before the second caution flag came out on lap 28 when Michael Lake of Uniontown, PA in the Bobby Lake Motorsports Special, Ryan Crane of Panama City, FL in the Panama City Cycles Special and Adam Beeler of Knoxville, TN in the Mighty Muffler and Brakes CVR tangled in turn two.
After the restart, McRee began to fall back through the pack dropping from fourth to seventh on lap 29. Debris on the front straightaway lit up the caution bulb for the third time in the race on lap 34. On the restart, several drivers, including Whitener and Johnson tried to work the outside groove to see if they could build some momentum.
A three-car battle for the second spot developed among Arthur, Whitener and Franklin that got intense on lap 35 when Whitener got into the back of Arthur in turn four. Walker got sideways, but Whitener lifted the throttle just enough to let Arthur gather up his race car.
The fourth caution flag came out on lap 37 when Shan Smith of Dade City, FL spun the SS Performance Racing CVR down the front straightaway. Johnson gave up the seventh spot with a cut tire during the caution period, but returned to the race. McRee then moved up to seventh for the restart, but he gave that up when he spun on the backstretch after the green flag came out.
McRee’s troubles continued on lap 38 when he spun in turn four collecting Cale Conley of Vienna, WV in the AAA General Contractors Special and two-time NeSmith Late Model National Champion David Earl Gentry of Murfreesboro, TN in the Hardy & Associates Special.
Whitener was on the outside of Arthur for the Dixie Style double-file restart and he made it work when the green flag came back out to take the second spot going into turn one. Whitener tried to look to the inside of Nosbisch, but the race leader would not budge from the bottom of the race track.
The race slowed by two more caution flags when Ryan King of Seymour, TN stalled the Brian King Roofing Stinger in turn four on lap 45, and Hawkins spun in turn four and collected Chase Edge of LaFayette, AL in the Edge’s Gas Company Special on lap 46. Nosbisch was able to run just fast enough on each restart to keep Whitener behind him.
The NeSmith Late Models return to Bubba Raceway Park on Saturday night for the 100-lap $10,000-to-win 10th Annual Chevrolet Performance World Championship Race. This non-points event was rescheduled from a rainout on November 22, 2014.
The first 16 starting spots were determined through Heat Races on November 21, 2014. There will also be a pair of 20-lap B-Main Races where the top three finishers will transfer to the remaining starting spots for the World Championship Race.
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 Dirt Late Model Series Press Release. Photo credit: Photos by Tracie.com
OFFICIAL RESULTS OF ROUND 3 AT BUBBA RACEWAY PARK IN OCALA, FL ON 1/30/15:
POS STRT CAR # DRIVER HOMETOWN LAPS $ WON
1. 1 02 Keith Nosbisch Valrico, FL 50 $3,000
2. 6 58 Mark Whitener Middleburg, FL 50 $1,375
3. 2 87 Walker Arthur Forest, VA 50 $975
4. 3 2 Dennis Franklin Gaffney, SC 50 $700
5. 5 H2 Matt Henderson (R) Loudon, TN 50 $650
6. 7 27h Doug Horton Wimamma, FL 50 $550
7. 12 14 Tyler Clem (R/Y) St. Petersburg, FL 50 $625
8. 8 1 Johnny Stokes Columbus, MS 50 $575
9. 17 66 Jake Knowles Rome, GA 50 $525
10. 9 5 Ronnie Johnson Chattanooga, TN 50 $500
11. 11 33x Ivedent Lloyd Ocala, FL 50 $350
12. 4 25 Justin McRee Woodstock, AL 50 $425
13. 13 17ss Shan Smith Dade City, FL 50 $280
14. 15 27 Michael Lake (Y) Uniontown, PA 50 $385
15. 20 14c Cale Conley Vienna, WV 49 $250
16. 22 10 Ryan Crane (R) Panama City, FL 49 $240
17. 24 18 Chase Edge LaFayette, AL 49 $220
18. 21 30 Ryan King (R) Seymour, TN 49 $325
19. 18 66b Adam Beeler (R) Knoxville, TN 49 $200
20. 10 RJ1 Jacob Hawkins Fairmont, WV 44 $200
21. 19 77 Brian Connor Augusta, GA 17 $200
22. 14 56 David Earl Gentry Murfreesboro, TN 17 $200
23. 23 19 Marcus Minga Shannon, MS 6 $200
24. 16 111 Max Blair Centerville, PA 6 $325