Weekly Notebook presented by JRi Shocks
Notes: Florida teen-ager gets first big paycheck
By Joshua JoinerDirtonDirt.com staff writer
When he raced Late Models during the late 1990s and early 2000s, David Augspurger never earned one of the over-sized paychecks often presented to a driver in victory lane after a special event victory. The now-retired Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., driver won plenty of weekly shows and even a track championship at Thundercross Speedway in 2001, but a special-event victory always eluded him.
So when his young son Christian found victory lane in Friday night’s unsanctioned special event at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., and hoisted the $3,000 winner’s check over his head, a proud father couldn’t help but to get a little emotional.
“I never got one of those big checks. I finished second and I finished third. But to see him lift that check up, it was really special,” David Augspurger recalled of his son’s victory lane celebration. “It meant a lot to us. It was just a really rewarding moment for all the work we’ve all put in.”
The breakthrough triumph was emotional for the driver as well. The 15-year-old Christian Augspurger was fighting back tears when he met his father in victory lane.
“It was amazing. I was almost in tears trying to get out of the car in victory lane and he was the first person there,” Christian Augspurger said. “It was really a great moment.”
Augspurger’s first special-event victory was as exciting as it was moving. The third-year Late Model driver battled veteran Florida racers Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Tyler Ivey, Jason Fitzgerald and Mark Whitener throughout the 40-lap race, and topped Whitener in a photo finish after a final-lap restart.
“I wasn’t real worried because our car was pulling really good on the restarts,” Augspurger said of the race’s green-white-checkered finish. “I knew he wasn’t gonna be able to get me down the back stretch, but I guess I slowed down a little in three and four. Plus they said he kinda dove off in there real hard. We bounced off each other a little down the frontstretch, but I came out on top.”
Outdueling Whitener and the other Florida standouts added to the excitement of the victory for Augspurger.
“It was huge to win this one. Beating the best Florida has to offer makes it even better,” Augspurger said. “It’s really cool to beat them all. Sometimes I’ll beat Mark or I’ll be beat Ivedent or Jason, but it’s something to beat them all when they’re all there.”
Augspurger’s big win is a major confidence booster for the young driver. He’s confident more victories will come as he continues to learn the ropes of Late Model racing.
“Before this week, we got to a point where we were finishing at least second, third or fourth pretty much every race,” Augspurger said. “I just needed to get to that next step where we could start winning races. Now I feel like I can win a couple more this year and even more next year and just keep getting better.”
• Earning his career-richest victory, Jerry Bard of Shippensburg, Pa., pocketed $3,000 for his Aug. 18 victory in Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway’s Ernie D’s Shorty Bowers Bull Durham Championship.
• Justin Wells of Aurora, Mo., earned $2,066 at Caney Valley Speedway for his Aug. 18 victory in the third annual James House Memorial. Wells ended Brad Looney’s three-race win streak at the Caney, Kan., oval.
• Using a backup powerplant, reigning track champ Clay Daly of Watsonville, Calif., led all the way Aug. 18 at Santa Maria (Calif.) Speedway to outrun Nick Bartels and Tommy Malcolm.
• Part of the track’s American Dirt Series, Chris Usry of Keysville, Ga., earned $2,000 for his Aug. 18 victory at 441 Speedway in Dublin, Ga.
• Stretching his win streak to four on Aug. 18, Matthew Nance of Ronda, N.C., has a $300 bounty on him at Friendship Motor Speedway in Elkin, N.C.
• Breaking Todd Cooney’s five-race win streak, Al Zeitner of Bellevue, Neb., won Aug. 19 at Stuart (Iowa) Speedway.
• Jensen Ford of Piney Flats, Tenn., won his second straight Fastrak Crate feature at Wythe Raceway in Rural Retreat, Va., on Aug. 18.
• Rallying from his 12th starting spot, Mike Murphy Jr. of Colona, Ill., was in the lead by the 10th lap and notched his fourth victory of 2012 on Aug. 17 at Davenport (Iowa) Speedway to solidify his points lead.
• After entering the season winless in Limited Late Models, J.R. Rodriguez of Dover, Pa., notched a victory Aug. 18 for the second week in a row at Susquehanna Speedway Park in Newberrytown, Pa. Rodriguez led the final two laps.
• At I-77 Raceway Park in Ripley, W.Va., Chris Garnes of Evans, W.Va., overtook Rick Williams with two laps remaining for a $3,000 victory in the Big Dawg 30.
First things first
First-time occurrences in Dirt Late Model racing:
• Chassis builder Jim Bernheisel of Lebanon, Pa., won Aug. 18 at Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway for his first career victory at the half-mile oval.
• Modified ace Michael Long of Quincy, Ill., nipped Jason McBride on Aug. 18 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo., for his first career Late Model victory. Long was driving his brother-in-law Rickey Frankel’s No. 33F.
• Joe Janowski of Carmel, Ind., captured his first career Late Model victory at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway.
• Outdueling Mike Bores, Ryan Markham of Ashland, Ohio, won Aug. 18 for his first career victory at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park.
• Mark Pettyjohn of Milton, Del., won Aug. 18 for his first career victory at Winchester (Va.) Speedway.
• On Aug. 18 at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway, Derek Byler of Alexandria, Pa., notched his first career victory at the track.
Weekly points chases
UMP DIRTcar (Super Late Models): Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., holds nearly a 100-point lead through Aug. 12 events over Kevin Weaver of Gibson City, Ill.
UMP DIRTcar (Crate Late Models): Nick Bauman of New Berlin, Ill., is still in control with 1,465 points through Aug. 12 while Bobby Dauderman (1,432) recently jumped Evan Fink (1,378) for second.
AMRA: Reigning champion Chris Garnes of Evans, W.Va., holds a commanding lead as of Aug. 9 with 1,338 points to Andy Bond’s 1,214. Ronnie Mayle is third with 1,187 points.
IMCA: Todd Cooney of Des Moines, Iowa, used a victory and a runner-up finish over the Aug. 10-11 weekend to jump reigning champ Ray Guss Jr. of Milan, Ill., based on points through Aug. 11. Cooney leads Guss by just one point with Tyler Bruening of Decorah, Iowa, third, 22 points out of the lead.
ULMA: After earning his 10th victory of the season on Aug. 17, Jason Russell of Henley, Mo., holds a commanding lead with the Missouri-based Limited Late Model organization. He’s 96 points ahead of Joe Walkenhorst of Lee’s Summit, Mo.
WDLMA: Russ Scheffler of Waukesha, Wis., remains atop the standings with 401 points through Aug. 11 races. Craig Schueffner (371) of Sheboygan Falls, Wis., is second, followed by Scheffler’s younger brother Rick (365).
WISSOTA: Chad Becker of Aberdeen, S.D., holds a scant two-point lead over two-time and reigning champ Ricky Weiss of Winnipeg, Manitoba, through Aug. 12 races. David McDonald of Huron, S.D., is third, 33 points out of the lead.
NeSmith Chevrolet Series: Earning his 10th win of the season, Chase Washington of Houlka, Miss., closed to a single point behind leader Mickey Trosclair of Luling, La., as the Crate Late Model organization’s season begins its home stretch. Jeremy Shaw of Millport, Ala., is third, only three points behind Washington.
Upcoming weekly specials
Among non-touring and independent special events coming up at dirt tracks around the country:
Ponderosa Speedway, Junction City, Ky. (Aug. 24): The Colston Paving 60 for Super Late Models pays $7,500-to-win.
Elkins Raceway, Kerens, W.Va. (Aug. 24): The Topless 52 pays $3,000-to-win for Super Late Models and serves as a qualifier for Tyler County’s Black Diamond 125.
Skyline Speedway, Stewart, Ohio (Aug. 24): Super Late Models compete in a $3,000-to-win event during the Sarah Bond Big Three, which includes $3,000-to-win events for winged sprints and modifieds as well.
Union County Speedway, Liberty, Ind. (Aug. 24): The track hosts its lone Super Late Model event of the season.
Madison (Minn.) Speedway (Aug. 25): The WISSOTA oval hosts its only Late Model event of the season.
Talladega Short Track, Eastaboga, Ala. (Aug. 25): The Jerry Goodwin Challenge To Beat Cancer event pays $2,500-to-win for Super Late Models. Door prizes and a silent auction will raise money to fight cancer.