Let's pick up a little over 3 weeks ago to recap the Speedweeks that was. The Nesmith crate late models invaded Bubba Raceway Park on Jan. 28 and saw Mark Whitener, Max Blair and Keith Nosbisch reach victory lane before Walker Arthur grabbed the $10,000 finale.
The "New" All Star Circuit of Champions followed suit with an invasion of Bubba Raceway Park the following weekend. Albeit a strange field that filled the pits, it was the familiar face of Kerry Madsen that won all 3 nights and collected $15,000 in winnings.
Meanwhile, the Super Late Models were putting in work in the state of Georgia as the Lucas Oil Late Models (LOLMDS) put an assault on Golden Isles Speedway, and at the same time the World of Outlaws Late Models set their eyes on Screven Motor Speedway.
Carrier, Pearson and Davenport were victorious at Golden Isles, and it was Steve Casebolt and home-state native Shane Clanton that stole the thunder at Screven.
The LOLMDS then began the traditional week-long Winternationals at East Bay. Six features were contested, with legendary "Mr. Smooth" Billy Moyer winning half of them. Dennis Erb, Josh Richards and Eddie Carrier won the other three events.
Not to be outdone, the WoO Late Models spent a weekend at Bubba Raceway Park. It was Darrell Lanigan picking up the unsanctioned SLM event, but fans saw Frank Heckenast and Josh Richards reach victory lane in WoO action.
Sprint cars got their time back in the spotlight when they made the annual trek over to Volusia Speedway Park to kick off the DIRTcar Nationals. The All Stars sanctioned the first two nights when Greg Hodnett and Daryn Pittman were the first to the checkers.
"The Greatest Show on Dirt", the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, took over the following three nights where Pittman was able to grab another win, followed by remarkable victories from reigning champ Donny Schatz and Brad Sweet.
The late models moved in on Monday morning for their turn at the half-mile oval. When the dust settled Saturday night, the week could be summed up in two words: Shane Clanton. The "Georgia Bulldog" carried momentum from Screven and Bubba's as he was able to capture 4 of the 5 contested races, 3 of which were WoO sanctioned. Scott Bloomquist also reached victory lane.
The Northeast ground-pounders known as Big Block Modifeds took their talents to the Southeast as they contested 5 shows over the course of a week with just as many winners. Danny Johnson, Brett Hearn, Stewart Friesen, Rick Laubach and Neal Williams each found victory lane once.
Just when you thought we'd had enough racing, the USAC non-winged sprints and ASCS 360's started their seasons off in the Sunshine State. Mark Smith capped off the ASCS triple-header at East Bay with a $10,000 triumph, while Robert Ballou, Brady Bacon and Dave Darland split the honors at Bubba's.
Now we look ahead. Florida Speedweeks has one weekend remaining, but we remorsefully begin to look onward towards races in the rest of the country.
Next weekend, the 5th Annual 'Pelican 100' will take place at Louisiana's Ark-La-Tex Speedway, offering a gracious $10,000 prize to the winner. Alabama also resumes its season with the $15,000 Southern All Star (SAS) sanctioned 'Bama Bash' at East Alabama Motor Speedway. The SAS Lates will finish off the weekend with a $10,000 show at Cherokee Speedway in South Carolina.
Lincoln Speedway (PA) will again attempt to open their season with the Icebreaker for 410 Sprints. With the harsh winter and future weather outlook, I wouldn't hold your breath as it's not looking good at the moment.
So what can we take away from Florida? Here's a list of a few noteworthy items.
- Can anyone stop (or at least slow down) Shane Clanton?
- The positive vibes surrounding the ASCoC were refreshing.
- The WoO Sprints title could be up in the air this season.
- Billy Moyer proved that he is still the king of East Bay.
- Scott Bloomquist has cooled off since last fall.
- Earl Pearson is clearly rejuvenated with his new/old team.
- Chub Frank, for now, has returned to competitive form.
**AMENDMENT (2/23/14) - The Pelican 100 at Ark-La-Tex Speedway has been postponed to March 6th and 7th.**