To use an old-timers expression, Tony Stewart cleaned house at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida, last weekend.
Stewart won his heat, the dash and the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions A-main on a track with more bite than a Florida alligator.
A short but heavy late afternoon rainstorm left the track and pit area a quagmire, leading some dozen teams to opt out of racing either because they expected the show to be cancelled or track conditions to be horrible.
The track crew went to work and produced a smooth, lightning-fast surface for the 23 cars that eventually signed in for the finale of the three-night Winter Nationals series. Stewart’s flag-to-flag run was closely observed by outside front-row starter Lucas Wolfe, who chased the Columbus racer for the entire 30 laps.
“He beat me on the start, then in traffic he was driving away,” Wolfe said. “I got a run on him into Turn 1 on the final restart, but I couldn’t cross him, and that was that.”
Paul McMahan hit the stripe third, ahead of Mark Smith and Tim Shaffer.
Stewart left in such a hurry on the start that he was out to more than a turn lead when he caught the backmarkers for the first time on Lap 3. A red flag on Lap 7 when Shane Golobic got caught up on the frontstretch and flipped brought Stewart back to the field, but when the green reappeared, it was the same story all over again.
He was in traffic again by Lap 12 and just kept attacking the slower cars aggressively and extending his lead over Wolfe.
“I kept digging because I didn’t need any pressure in traffic tonight. I screwed myself up the other night and gave a win away,” Stewart said. “I figured I’d win it or lose it in traffic, so I kept looking ahead and getting where I had to be to lap a particular car the quickest. We knew the track would be really fast when it rained, so we were ready for it.”
By halfway, the sixth-starting Smith was all over Shaffer for fourth, with Brock Zearfoss and Carson Short hustling to join the battle, as well. Then Colby Wormer stalled with six to go, ruining Stewart’s full straightaway lead. It also put him back in clean air and his pursuers in freight train formation, so the racing was effectively done except for Smith getting around Shaffer.
“This is what happens when Mother Nature rains on you,” summed up McMahon, who was enjoying his best finish of the week. “It was a good night to start up front because the track was narrow and fast. But we got it in.”
Shaffer edged Cale Conley for fast time, with Stewart, Wolfe and Anthony Fiore sharing heat honors.
Feature Finish: Tony Stewart, Lucas Wolfe, Paul McMahan, Mark Smith, Tim Shaffer, Brock Zearfoss, Carson Short, Cale Conley, Bradley Howard, Danny Smith, Danny Dietrich, Anthony Fiore, Gary Kriess, George Hobaugh, Jim Shuster, Mallie Shuster, Colby Womer, Shane Stewart, Shane Golobic, Brandon Matus, Jeremy Hill, Max Stambaugh, Logan Schuchart, Jacob Allen.
Stewart announces partnership
Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) announced recently that Rush Truck Centers, providing premier solutions for the commercial vehicle industry, and Ford Performance, responsible for the development and marketing of Ford’s racing engines and performance parts, will serve as the co-primary partners for the Sprint Car entries of 10-time World of Outlaws (WoO) NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz and Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion.
The partnership aligns Rush Truck Centers, among the most widely recognized, one-stop service and sales entities in the transportation industry with a broad network of locations with TSR. Since 1965, Rush Truck Centers has had a reputation for excellence, fairness and outstanding customer service. Offering solutions, top-quality brands, the largest network of facilities in the country and exceptional service, Rush Truck Centers values mirror those of TSR.
“Rush Truck Centers is among the best in the commercial vehicle market in every aspect of their business. Whether it’s the number of locations, their commitment to using top-quality products, offering logistical friendly solutions or striving for the best in customer satisfaction, Rush Truck Centers delivers,” Stewart said. “It’s that commitment to excellence that makes them the perfect partner for TSR. Rusty (Rush) and I have been friends for many years, and I know that he and his team share the same passion for producing success that our organizations do. I’m proud to have Rush Truck Centers come aboard as the primary sponsor for both of our winged sprint car teams.”
For the past two seasons, Ford Performance has been solidifying plans to develop a new 410-cubic-inch Sprint Car engine that will officially make its on-track debut in 2019. Working with engine builders Andy Durham and Ron Shaver, alongside TSR’s Rick Warner, the Ford Performance team has ramped up development which saw the new powerplant’s first dyno test take place on Jan. 24.
“We are really excited about the new Ford 410 motor that the guys have been working really hard on over the last 12 months,” Stewart said. “We had some exciting results last week, and I’m looking forward to getting the engine in the cars this season. I can’t thank all the guys at Ford in Michigan, Doug (Yates) and Jeff (Clark) and their team at Roush Yates, Andy Durham, Ron Shaver, Mobil 1 and everyone that has contributed countless hours to this project.”
Gilpin at Georgia-Florida Speedweeks
Devin Gilpin of Columbus is racing a late model for the first time in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series- sanctioned Georgia-Florida Speedweeks. Gilpin started out making the first feature of the season against 42 other competitors at Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, Georgia on Feb. 2.
Gilpin then headed to East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, Florida. Gilpin earned a fast time provisional onTuesday to make the starting grid for the Lucas Oil event, which saw 56 entrants on hand.
Gilpin, who was the track champion at both Brownstown and Eldora Speedways in 2018, had previously only run a modified in the past during Speedweeks. Gilpin and the other Lucas Oil competitors will be live on tonight from East Bay on MAVTV and LucasOilRacing.TV starting at 7 p.m.