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Foul weather cancels drivers' last chances

Though the drivers were eagerly awaiting the final night of action at Citrus County Speedway, it was the weather that decided the Late Model, Street Stock and Thunder Stock championships.

Unable to reschedule the canceled season finale because of conflicts with other events being held at the county fairgrounds complex, promoters Jimmy Wear and Billy Hooker decided to leave the final points standings where they were two weeks ago. Though three of the six divisions had already been decided, the outcome of the remaining three was to have been finalized on the track.

"I'm happy to have gotten the championship, but I kind of miss not getting to go out and race for it," said Late Model driver Rex Struble, who beat Jim Smith by 62 points to collect his first division title.

For Struble, who began driving for car owner Glenn Webster in the middle of last season, success was the result of team chemistry.

"I had good weeks and I had bad weeks, but (Webster) always showed faith in me," Struble said. "Glenn kept that car competitive all year, and that's not easy to do. He really deserved this championship."

Also earning his first championship was Mike Bell, whose 38-point lead over Travis Nichols gave him the Street Stock crown. After a lackluster start, Bell made steady advances throughout the season to surpass Nichols.

"Once we got our momentum going we never lost it," Bell said. "Every week we concentrated on going out and winning races. In the end, that helped me to get into the position of winning the championship."

The other undecided title came more by way of forfeit than victory. After a disqualification stripped Josh Teague of the points gained with a runner-up finish two weeks ago, the rookie lost the title to defending champion Stuart Madison.

Madison, who finished behind Teague in what turned out to be the final race, wound up 20 points ahead in the final tally. For the three-year veteran of the division, it was the final hurrah before heading to Hobby Stocks next season.

"It's a great way to wind things up," Madison said. "This is a fun class to race in this year because we had a lot of new faces. I'm kind of glad to be moving on because I don't think I'd be able to keep up with them next year."

The other three divisions ended on a less dramatic note. Mike Veltman captured his fourth consecutive Sportsman title by a 548-point margin over Bill Oesterreicher. In Hobby Stocks, Richie Smith won his second straight title after taking the points lead from older brother Tommy several weeks ago. The Mini Stock crown went to Robbie Yoakam, who won the division by 354 points over Rob Wheatley.

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