The Wheel Man Racing Series hosted its sixth event of the season Saturday night at Citrus County Speedway (FL). Boasting a stout field of Sportsman, the 50-lap feature comprised plenty of side-by-side and three-wide action, but ultimately turned into a race of redemption for one driver.
Brooke Storer had a little more to prove going into the night at Citrus; her last race at the Florida bullring yielded a win that was stripped away in the tech shed for a transmission infraction.
Qualifying fastest and starting mid-pack after an invert, Storer was able to work her way to the front of the field in the first handful of laps. Several restarts challenged Storer’s early lead but it wasn’t enough to derail the No. 9 machine from another victory.
This go-round, Storer was cleared in tech and declared the official winner.
“These guys at Boyd Tech, my dad, have put in a lot of hours since that DQ,” Storer told Speed51. “It was a very unfortunate thing that happened, something we didn’t know about at all. To come from eleventh up to, I think we were third by lap three, that was pretty cool. Once I got to the lead, I knew it was still going to be tough because we had a lot of good cars behind us.”
One of those good cars was the No. 63, Tim Alexander, who recovered from some earlier mishaps in the race to take home second, his best finish to date in the series.
“We had a couple of tangles throughout the race,” Alexander said. “My left front got hit a couple times, my right front got hit a couple times. I actually got in the thing with [Jesse Henley] and ran over the front of his car. Can’t believe I did as good as I did, but I had a really good drive through the center, good drive off. I could get to [Storer] but I couldn’t get around her. She was a little better on the exit on the short runs and towards the end.”
Storer contributed that short-run dominance, in part, to a new rule change which required teams to run three-inch spoilers, as opposed to six-inch. The rule, which is only mandatory at Citrus, is an effort by officials to better enable passing and shift the focus towards driver ability.
“The short runs were definitely helped with the small spoiler on this week,” Storer said. “It made my car a lot freer in than we expected but the drive off on it was great and I think that’s what kept us out front there.”
If passing was the goal, Chad Rutherford and Jake Perkins’ performances were exemplary of the rule’s success. The two drivers had nearly identical days: both failing post-qualifying tech, both starting from the rear and both working their way through heavy traffic to score top-five finishes.
Rutherford, who qualified third and finished third in the feature, lost a good starting position due to his ride height being too low.
“It was marginal at best, but a rule is a rule,” Rutherford said. “I measured at four inches, they’re tool said it wasn’t and that’s fine. So we had to go to the rear, made the race a little more interesting. Unfortunately, because of how many cars we had to pass, I had to use the right front quite a bit. The car was really good until about lap 40 and it just got really, really tight. I think we could’ve won, honestly. It would have been nice to at least start where I was supposed to and kind of go from there. All in all, I have no complaints. The car was really well balanced. I’m looking forward to doing it again.”
For Perkins, who qualified fifth and finished fourth in the main event, it was left-side weight.
“This series is so competitive it’s hard to work your way up to the front of these things because the field is so tight,” Perkins said. “My team does a really good job at the shop and making sure all of our loose ends are done up but sometimes we make mistakes, it is what it is. We rise and fall as a team and in qualifying we just fell up a little bit short in tech. Coming through the pack is just hard, the field is so close, you have to take every opportunity you can and be aggressive. It was really good, can’t complain coming up to fourth. Following Rutherford up through the filed was nice, we both did a really good job. I want to give these guys the win they deserve. It’s coming if we keep knocking on the door.”
The next Wheel Man Racing Series event is scheduled for Saturday, August 8 back at Citrus County Speedway.
-Story & photo by: Melissa Strahley, Speed51 Correspondent
Wheel Man Racing Series Results
- Brooke Storer (9)
- Tim Alexander (63)
- Chad Rutherford (5)
- Jake Perkins (59)
- Rex Struble (69)
- Dillon Sivils (32)
- Eric Sharrone (21)
- Edward Allen (23)
- Kevin Macy (19)
- Chris Allen (33)
- Rick Reed (65)
- Corey Crisafulli (74)
- Tom Posavec (01)
- Richard Anderson (2x)
- Jesse Henley (3)
- Joey Sims (12)
- Jason Bartram (73b)
- Brandon Morris (56)
- Brandon Strevels (14x)
- Tim Sozio (16) (DNS)
- Jeff Scofield (07) (DNS)