BURKHALTER ADDS TO FAMILY TRADITION WITH SOUTHERN PRO-AM TRUCK WIN AT ORLANDO SPEEDWORLD
Orlando SpeedWorld finally saw some stock car racing action again on Sunday as fans and race teams battled hot, steamy conditions along with a brief delay for rain that fell during intermission. However, the show went on and everyone got to see some great action on the three-eighths mile oval.
Headlining the program was the Southern Pro-Am Truck Series and 16 teams showed up to “get it on” on a Sunday afternoon. The Trucks were split into four eight-lap qualifying “dashes” that were won respectively by Dean Butrum, Cody Martell, Rodney Haddock and Big Donnie Burkhalter. Those four drivers drew for the top four starting spots in the 30-lap feature with Haddock claiming the pole position flanked by Butrum. Martell and Burkhalter made up row two for the start. The only driver to suffer trouble during the qualifiers was hard luck Randy Leonard who pulled out of the first “dash” with an electrical fire that ended his day early.
Haddock, who hails from the North Florida town of Hilliard, grabbed the lead at the start of the main event as action was nose-to-tail early on. On lap seven, Martell slammed his way past Butrum and took second briefly before Burkhalter zipped by both of them and settled into the second slot on the track. Butrum slipped back to fifth spot behind Chad Chastain. The only caution flag of the race was unfurled for debris on the track on lap 11. On the restart Chastain got past Martell for third as several trucks got into each other (drivers later blamed the setting sun in turn one) with Burkhalter getting into Haddock hard enough to bow his hood making it difficult for him to see in front of him. From this point the race ran under green flag conditions as lapped trucks became a factor. Haddock looked to be able to keep Burkhalter at bay, holding on to a two-length advantage until there were about five laps to go. Haddock’s truck began getting loose and Burkhalter saw his opportunity, blasting past with two laps to go then setting sail for his first career Truck win.
Burkhalter continued a family tradition that goes well back into the late-1950s, 1960s and 1970s when his grandfather Don’l Burkhalter was a terror on the Central Florida short tracks, winning championships at the old Orlando Raceway and at Eau Gallie Speedway in Brevard County. Donnie’s dad Bo and uncle Chuck were also top racers in their day and saw many a checkered flag at Orlando SpeedWorld along with other tracks as well. The victory lane celebration was almost like a family reunion and the “clan” was joined by good friend and fellow racer Kody Jett who came down for the weekend to lend his expertise.
Haddock held off Chastain for second while Martell took fourth until he was disqualified in tech as he came up light on the scales. That moved Taylor Moxley into fourth briefly until her truck was also set down due to an infraction involving improper rocker arms. Thus Butrum ultimately passed tech and ended up fourth while another third generation racer, Chase Lovelady, took fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Cole Partelo, Taylor Hosford, Kristin Clements, Mike Gamache and Ray Dormer III. The other finishers, both DNF’s, were Richard Griffis and Paul Grynewicz III ahead of the DQ’d trucks of Martell and Moxley. Leonard and Jacob Mengel were unable to start the race that was sponsored by Renegade Racing Fuel, Alan Jay Automotive Network of Sebring and All Star Truck Parts of Hilliard.
The Super Stock/Street Stock field wasn’t as big as expected but the racing was still intense. Qualifying “dashes” went to David Gould and Charlie King and the pair started the 30-lap feature from the front row. Gould quickly jumped to a good-sized lead only to see caution come out on lap three as King and Mike Trocki got together in turn two.
Gould continued to set the pace but Jeff Cuddy was coming on strong. Stating his car was “way off” in his dash, Cuddy’s crew made some adjustments that worked to perfection as he sped past Gould for the top spot on lap eight and never looked back. His progress was slowed one more time on lap 16 as Richard Fiore, Jr. hit the back stretch wall off turn two courtesy of the bumper from his own teammate Kevin Ledford! Both drivers dropped out of the event.
From there Cuddy was in a class to himself as he took the checker well ahead of Gould. John Hodge nabbed third spot trailed by King, Trocki, Fiore, Ledford and Jody Modine. A nice purse was offered to the class courtesy of several sponsors including Butch Herdegen/Manheim Orlando Auto Auction, DWG Enterprises Floor Covering of Melbourne (David Gould), Space Coast Portable Welding of Melbourne (John Hodge) and Rex Engineering of Titusville (Rex Hollinger).
The 25-lap Legend Car feature was dominated by former track champion Donovan Ponder as he led every lap of the headliner. Seth Adams, who won the previous night at Auburndale Speedway and won the heat race earlier in the day, took over second place on lap five but could never track down Ponder who won by several car lengths. Dave “Too Tall” Gleason came home third in front of L. J. Grimm, Alan Hiefnar, Mark Bibeau, Dave Fusco, Tim Hunt and Bob Wilson. Sponsors for the Legend Car class included Custom Built
Contracting, Inc. of Titusville, Loyd Contracting, Inc. of Titusville, Elite Restoration Group of Cocoa and Showers & Closets, LLC of Cocoa.
Sene Capps led the first ten laps of the Pro Challenge feature before spinning out on his own coming out of turn four to bring out the first yellow flag of the race. Daniel Miller of Tavares took over at that point of the scheduled 30-lapper before the race came to a halt on lap 17. Randy Glick got loose coming through turns three and four and made contact with the car of Pete Briggs. Glick’s truck-bodied machine then turned straight into the turn four wall and hit with a sickening sound before looping around in midair, then sliding back down the track.
SpeedWorld EMT’s were quick on scene as Glick was awake and alert but in tremendous pain. Orange County Fire-Rescue Station 82 was called to the track where they prepped Glick for transport to Orlando Regional Healthcare. Along with a broken rib, Glick also broke his left leg and had a titanium rod and screws put in his left tibia Monday morning. He is expected to make a full recovery and will head home on Wednesday. Glick posted on his Facebook page “just wanted to say thanks to all EMT’s that helped me. Y’all were there quick. And the track crew was awesome. J. L. Snowden, thanks for being there to calm me down”.
At that point the race was cut from 30 to 20 laps. Miller led the remaining three circuits to take the win over Jarrett Snowden, Capps, Terry Wright, Briggs and Glick. J. L. Snowden did not start. Miller also won the heat race.
Jimmy Barron led the first few laps of the V-8 Bomber feature before he was black-flagged for an oil leak. Red Ledford took over at that point and held off several challengers to take the first win of his racing career. Aaron Overman was a close second ahead of Joe Hamilton, Keith Wylie and Bomber Bill Loomis. Matt Thornton was sixth followed by Adam Soukup and Barron. Ron McCreary did not start although he won the heat race.
“Team Saturn” dominated the Four-Cylinder Bomber feature. Shane Sutorus led the opening pair of laps before his teammate Zachary Curtis took over and simply drove off into the sunset to win by a huge margin. Sutorus later fell out of the event as John Windham, all the way down from Lake City to race, came home second ahead of Greg Bruce, James Skinner and Megan Matheny. Rounding out the finishers were Troy Gregory, Jason Skinner, Travis Sullivan, James Strehle, Sutorus, Dustin Higdon and Jamie Sullivan. Kendra Gregory did not start. Heat winners were Curtis and Bruce.
Bomber sponsors included Zachary Curtis Racing of Palm Bay, James Skinner Racing/Clean Cut Tree Service of Melbourne, Charles King
Racing/Southeast Waterproofing and Coatings of Geneva, Jamie, Travis and Cheyenne Sullivan Racing/Sullivan Moving Systems of Orlando, Ralph Foss/All Auto Salvage of Titusville, Old School Racing/Matheny Racing of Orlando and Joe Hamilton/Straightline Fence of Orlando.
The Vintage/Classic racers were split into two groups. Kelly Jarrett won the race for the “Stocks” over Ricky Taylor, Howard Masters, Louis Brasher, heat winner Fred Robinson, Hank Goodrich and Gary Lyons.
The “Modified” race was won by Charlie Paschal (who also won the heat) ahead of Scott Fobres, Tobi Smith, Jim Zabele, Ron Hess and Billy Belflower.
OFFICIAL FINISH - SOUTHERN PRO-AM TRUCK SERIES - ORLANDO SPEEDWORLD - 9/11/16:
- Donnie Burkhalter, Ocoee #24
- Rodney Haddock, Hilliard #31
- Chad Chastain, Alva #36
- Dean Butrum, Venice #32
- Chase Lovelady, Lakeland #44
- Cole Partelo, Largo #9
- Taylor Hosford, Madison #13
- Kristin Clements, Lakeland #5K
- Mike Gamache, Tarpon Springs #Q
- Ray Dormer III, Chuluota #M7
- Richard Griffis, West Palm Beach #5
- Paul Grynewicz III, Hudson #42
DNS Randy Leonard, Lake Placid #77
DNS Jacob Mengel, Hudson #82
DQ Cody Martell, Arcadia #99
DQ Taylor Moxley, Hobe Sound #38
Photos (Victory Lane courtesy Jim Jones/jimjonesphoto.com:
- Southern Pro-Am Truck winner Donnie Burkhalter…
- It was a Burkhalter “reunion” in victory lane…
- Super Stock/Street Stock winner Jeff Cuddy…
- Legend Car winner Donovan Ponder…
- Pro Challenge winner Daniel Miller…