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Wednesday, February 10 - After a day of shopping in Dade City we headed south on Interstate 75 back to East Bay Raceway. After being rained out on Tuesday night the USAC Sprints were on tap for their final night of racing at East Bay. We knew it was going to be cold, again, and brought along extra sweat shirts and blankets from the timeshare. I guess USAC also realized the coldness of the weather and they ran a very good show. They actually started time trial early and as we were geting out of the car at 6:30 the first sprint took to the track for time trials. Once again there were 32 wingless sprints in the pits and after the dust settled at 7:00, Jerry Coons Jr. had set fast time and a new USAC record with a time of 15.039.
Tonight’s surface was different then on Monday. It was drier and took on rubber with a bit of dust circling above. The four heats started at 7:30 and were run in less then 30 minutes. The surface was a lot racier tonight and the famous slide job was performed several times. Kent Christian, Levi Jones, Robert Ballou and Shane Hmiel took the top honors in the heats. The B main was later won by Chris Windom who was the first caution of the night back in heat three when his tire passed him going into turn two. The break between B main and main event was filled with a celebrity race of radio personalities with Bubba the Love Sponge waving the flags.
It was 9:03 when the green dropped on the 30 lap feature and it appeared it was going non-stop. It also appeared to be a repeat of Monday. Damion Gardner picked up right where he left off. Gardner started outside row one and was never challenged. Even though it was a totally different surface Gardner mastered it the same as the wet surface on Monday. As a matter of fact Gardner probably wishes USAC ran East Bay more often. Although Gardner dominated there was good racing throughout the pack. The most notable were Levi Jones and Robert Ballou. They started 18th and 19th and followed each other up through the pack. Most noticeable was Ballou as he was running a high line no one else was running. Unfortunately his bid toward the front came to an end when he brought out the first caution on lap 24 when he must have caught the cushion and went into a bouncing spin. There was one more caution on the restart and the remainder was green. Gardner was in another zip code and rode home to an easy victory. Dave Darland was second followed by Jerry Coons Jr., Jeff Bland Jr. and Levi Jones.
All was complete at 9:22 and we decided to venture into the attached bar for a pulled pork sandwich before heading back out to the parking lot. The crowd tonight was better then Monday’s and I do not believe they left disappointed. We will venture back here to East Bay later this weekend for the All Star Sprints but tomorrow night it will be over to Volusia County for the World of Outlaw Late Models and Northeast Modifieds. As for the weather it is still unseasonably cool with highs today in the mid 50’s. But I guess I shouldn’t complain because you might be reading this in the northeast buried under two to three feet of snow.
Next blog will be the racing action from Volusia County. Stay tuned and keep warm whether you are in Florida or in the Northeast.
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