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Batson races back into victory lane

The former Late Model champion posts his first win in 18 months.

It had been nearly 18 months since James "Doc" Batson last saw the winner's circle at Citrus County Speedway. Saturday night, the former Late Model champion got there in style, holding off a hard charge by points leader Mike Bresnahan to capture the Pennington Cabinets Big Bonus Challenge.

For Batson, who devoted most of last season to pursuing an interest in the Florida Pro Stocks, the victory was a return to the form he showed back in 1998, when he scored eight top-three finishes to take the speedway's Late Model crown.

Bresnahan, who was an early heat winner, stuck fast to the leader all the way, but was unable to capitalize on several chances to get by Batson. Nonetheless, the runner-up spot enabled him to add even more cushion to his sizable points lead. Fred Stoner finished third ahead of Robert Elting and Al Lawrence.

Jim Smith continued to find new strength in his No. 32 Sportsman racer, capturing his third checkered flag in four weeks. Smith escaped the chase of points leader Mike Veltman to move into second place in the division standings. Back in the field, Travis Nichols held off John Gann to claim the third spot. Finishing fifth was Lenny Brown.

For the first time in many weeks, no one with the last name Wilson made it to the Street Stock winner's circle. Instead, the honor went to Brooksville driver Otis Hamilton, who battled heatedly with Sport Wilson in the final seven laps to collect his first win of the season. Tommy Malicote was awarded third ahead of Scott Hendrickson and Ernie Reed.

After struggling all season to find the right formula to put his Mini Stock racer into victory lane, Frank Coleman did so decisively by holding off points leader George Neumann.

Neumann, who was going for a triple-win bonus, seemed confounded by Coleman's well-handling machine. In fact, for much of the race he was barely able to fend off challenges by rival Mark Sowell, who wound up third. Don Faunce and Billy Smith rounded out the top five.

In Hobby Stocks, J.D. Goff led a 24-car field to the checkered flag for his fourth victory of the season. That moved him to second place in the points race behind Chris Hooker, who finished second.

Unfortunately, things didn't go quite so well for defending champion Roy Perkins, who posted his second DNF in as many weeks. James Teague wound up third ahead of Mickey Burns and Brandon Johnson.

Gary Swing continued his winning ways in the Figure 8 division, scoring his fourth victory in his last five starts. Charlie Meyer kept in hot pursuit throughout much of the race but was simply not able to muster enough power to get by. Defending division champion Robert Aaron managed a third-place finish over Phillip Rook and pole-sitter T.J. Sharrone.

Rick Ellis outpaced a 20-car field to emerge as winner of the 10-lap Street-Legal Junkers feature.

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