Late Model driver Wayne Bowman never has had any luck in drawing numbers for starting position in feature races, so Saturday night at Sunshine Speedway's opening night, he didn't even try.
Instead, "When I came through the gate, I got my buddy to pull the pill (number) for me. I couldn't believe it. I was starting on the pole," the Clearwater driver said. "It's one thing to start at the back and go to the front, but starting on the pole is different. I'm not sure I like it."
Bowman, No. 2, made the adjustment.
After only three laps, Bowman took a long lead over No. 32 Tim Sharrone of Clearwater until a restart after a crash on lap 3 eliminated the gap. By lap 12, St. Petersburg's Dwayne Dempsey, No. 7, had filled in at second, while No. 127 Kenny Vaughn of Naples took the third spot. The race ended in the same order, but Butch Smith, No. 72 of St. Petersburg, almost upset the cart.
Smith started back where Bowman normally does _ almost in the rear _ but with the help of a new spring set-up for the rear end, he had moved into the fourth spot by lap 12. Passing a veteran like Vaughn is no easy chore, but by lap 18 Smith was pulling alongside Vaughn when the car went into a spin at turn 4. Too much rear brake, he said.
"I'm still not much of a pole starter," Bowman admitted. "It's different trying to stay there. I still wonder what it is. Last year I started at the back six times and finished second every time. This is different."
Notes: Pinellas Park's Jim Hernan, whose J&J Auto Body owns the No. 74 Sportsman driven by Clearwater's "Rocket" Rick Marquis, finished last season and started this year with high notes. Hernan was voted "Best Scenery" by the Girls Racing Association, taking the golden crown and velvet robe from Largo's "Slammin" Sammy Coghill. Saturday night, Hernan teamed with Ron Sorenson and won the wild, big-time crash-bang, all-male Buddy Team Enduro race after starting on the outside in the second row. Absolutely delighted with the win, Hernan's only disappointment was being required to wear a helmet and firesuit during the race instead of the crown and robe.
In the pits, the J&J team was so excited with the $50 victory it nearly forgot that Marquis added another $355 for the Sportsman win. In that race, No. 45 John Wachtel and No. 69 John Stanford, both of Pinellas Park, finished second and third.
In other action, No. 22 Randy Rhodes won the Open Wheel Modified feature while No. 11B Jamie Burrows of Plant City was second and No. 80 Coghill was third. After a lot of close calls at the intersection, Tampa's Red Vann, No. 12, picked up the win in Figure 8s, with No. 10 Bill Revard of Kenneth City a close second and No. 89 Ron Davis of Pinellas Park third.
Wayne Jefferson, No. 21 of Pinellas Park, won the Street Stock feature, with No. 8 Gary Templeton of St. Petersburg coming in second and No. 85 Mike Gamache of Palm Harbor third. In Mini Stocks, No. 66 Dave Lockhart of St. Petersburg was first, No. 75 Todd Munday of Clearwater was second, and No. 16 Glenn Kelley of Port Richey was third. Clearwater's Frank Hill continued his winning ways after capturing last year's championship and prevailed in Oval Drags.