Citrus County Speedway veteran driver Herb Neumann Jr. has found a lot to like about his home track.
He finished the regular season with back-to-back wins, then three weeks later captured the first Winter Spectacular III Late Model 125 title.
In Saturday night's second off-season outing, Neumann served notice that he's just getting started. Not only did he snare his fourth victory in a row, he did it in dramatic fashion.
The 125-lap event had all the earmarks of a classic showdown between rivals, with Pinellas Park's Dave Pletcher taking the pole position in the 17-car field.
Next to him was the blue No. 09 of Scott Grossenbacher, with Wayne Anderson, Clint Slaggy, Danny Johnson, Mike Bresnahan, Rich Pratt and Neumann (who had the fastest qualifying lap, 13.391 seconds) in close proximity.
For the first 15 laps, Pletcher was perfect, outmaneuvering a hard-charging Anderson for the lead. But it didn't take long for Anderson to show his muscle, passing Pletcher's fading machine on Lap 16.
Neumann found trouble when he and Grossenbacher got together entering Turn 1. Both were sent to the rear on the restart. Neumann's hope seemed to sour again on Lap 80 when he was forced to pit during a caution period to change a rear tire.
With Anderson leading on Lap 110, Neumann nearly lost his hard-earned fourth-place spot when he collided with Mike Garvey. Officials ruled the contact incidental and allowed both drivers to retain their positions.
The final 15 laps perhaps were among the most exciting Late Model racing fans had seen in recent memory.
On Lap 123, Anderson swung wide in Turn 4 to avoid Pratt's spinning car, allowing Neumann to scoot beneath the fray and take the lead. On the restart, Anderson attempted to bully his way past Neumann but was unable to gain the momentum to do so.
"There was some luck involved, but a lot of it was due to the fact we'd done our homework," Neumann said. "It ranks as one of my most memorable races at the place."