Story By: EAST BAY RACEWAY PARK – TAMPA, FL – The 47th annual Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park has begun. Mother Nature posed no threat as 77 cars took spots in the pit area.
Heat races were won by Jared Gay and Michael Hart (V-8 Warrior/Thunderstocks), Doug Dyal (Mini Sprints), Pennsylvania racers Will Karas and Jazlyn Boyles (Micro Sprints) and Charles Paris Jr. and Socks Dittebrand (Gladiators). A trio of Top Gun Sprint preliminaries saw victory for Steve Diamond jr., Robbie Smith and Garrett Green.
Last year, Nick Brown went to Victory Lane as a car owner, handing the driving duties to Tommy Hill for the opening night win. This year, Brown returned to Victory Lane with a car built to match the look of his father’s race cars. Brown related during his interview that his father was recentkly diagnosed with cancer and he wanted to honor him with the look of the car. The car is more than just looks as it roared to Victory Lane despite some clutch issues.
Track champion Bryce Comer picked up where he left off by claiming the opening night feature for Mini Sprints. Comer, who won two mains during last year’s Winternationals, quickly asserted himself in front to return to familiar territory. Runnerup Jo Jo Davis ran a consistent race from start to finish for a career best Winternationals result.
Heat winner Will Karas was the class of the field in the Micro Sprints, handily claiming the 15-lap feature. With Karas’ win, Pennsylvania drivers remain unbeaten in the class for the Winternationals.
A field of 17 took the green after a four-wide salute in the Top Gun main. The non-stop action was thrilling for fans as the front runners deftly negotiated lapped traffic in green-to-checkers race that saw no cautions. With his win, Steve Diamond Jr. claimed an additional $300 in the Lee and Jeff Barfield Memorial Clean Sweep Award.
The Gladiators closed the night’s action and Troy “Socks” Dittebrand backed up his heat with a strong run to claim the win. Dittebrand wasn’t sure he was going to be a part of the Winternationals this year, but made the best of the situation with the win.
Night number 2 will be Friday, January 20 with the same five divisions in action. Race time is 7 p.m.
THURSDAY, January 19
TOP GUN SPRINTS
Feature – Steve Diamond Jr. (20c), Tyler Clem (14c), Garrett Green (82), Justin Webster (21), Luke Hill (41), Robbie Smith (6S), Joe Zuczek (50), Billy Bridges (11B), Trey Meredith (11), Andrew Griffin (32), Owen Dimm (17), Bob Martin (10), Tyler Porter (99), Andy Cobb (15), Danny Jones (14). Dustin Burtron (97). DNS – Kyle Connery (91)
Feature – Nick Brown (12), Jason Burnside (12J), Jerry Rogers (92), Collin Kruse (92c), Raymond Vann (1), Michael Hart (99), Daniel Bowman (46), Juston Meeks (10), Tim Gay (25), Jarod Gay (23), Derek Gray (189), Macy Bozeman (58), Raymond Rogers (48), Billy Cassidy (17), Wayne Kissam (07), Cody Mezyk (40), Justin Scarberry (24), Cody Allen (68). DNS – Kyle Kruse (18)
Feature: Bryce Comer (9), Jo Jo Davis (7), Bruce Comer (21), Doug Dyal (97D), Charles Landis Jr. (12), Bubba Rains (07R), Mark Reynolds (1NY), Tyler Landis (66), David Hall (67), Jesse Foster (1)
Feature – Will Karas (48k), Cliff Evans (17), Chris Kennedy (2), Colin Strife (46), Patrick Moore (14), James Ivey (58), Haley Moore (8), Logan Evans (66), Zach LaRose (33Z), Jazlyn Boyles (30), Noelle Ebersole (42). DNS – Nadia Ebersole (25)
Feature – Troy “Socks” Dittebrand (222), Patrick Tabb (03), Charles Paris Jr. (15), Robert Kissam (911), Kayla Jones (412), Derrick Edwards (17), Wayne Kissam (07), Davey Martin (55), Callie Gubich (209), Jeff Lacey (99), Patrick Fiore (88), Rodney Martin (21), Richard Ross (9), James Paris (09), Jennah Santos (105), Jimmie Williams (8W). DNS – Daniel Bowman (62), Tracy Maynard (162).