By Charlie Brown, Tampa, FL – The first two nights of racing at the East Bay Raceway Park were fairly uneventful for the TUSA Mod Lite Winternationals. Both Wednesday and Friday night’s track was tacky and fast but the Mod Lites took to the track after 75 laps of UMP Modified racing on Saturday night. The hard and slick surface threw the racers a curve and the 25-lap finale was far from uneventful. When the checkered fell, 16 year old James Hill of Laurel, Del. was in victory lane and more than half the field was either in the pits or sitting in the infield.
The top ten started heads up from Friday night’s finish with Jimmy Wills on the pole and Josh May outside front row. Wills grabbed the lead at the drop of the green but it only took one lap for the carnage to begin. The red was out before the second lap was complete when Josh May spun while running second. The field was tightly packed and the cars came slamming in ending the night for Ken Meadows, Nick Sapp, Jeff Isabelle, Jr., Andy Hennigar, Alan Knepper and May.
The next nine laps saw six more caution flags and a second red on lap 10 when British invader, Simon Panton barrel rolled in the first turn with Tyler Riggs, Eric McKinney and Nick Nash involved. No one was injured and all but Panton returned to action.
The final 15 laps would be run caution free. A lead pack of five cars pulled away from the field. The lead group in running order consisted of Wills, Ty Short, Mikey Hay, James Hill (who had started in 12th) and defending champion, Doug Williams. By lap 15 the front four were nose to tail as Josh Sliter got around Williams for fifth.
With five to go, the intensity level began to build as Short began to hammer the back bumper of Wills’ car. It appeared that handling of the leader’s car was starting to go away mid turn but Wills was still fast down the straight.
Short could not get Wills to budge and with two laps to go went to the outside. Hill had just gotten by May for third and took the opportunity to move under Short for second with one lap to go. Going into the first turn Hill gave Wills a shot in the rear bumper but Wills never wavered. Going into turn three, Hill once again contacted Wills’ bumper but this time the car pushed up in the middle of the final turn.
Hill stuck his car’s nose under the leader and the bite in the low groove was good enough for Hill to take the lead and the checkered by less than a car length in the Carey’s Towing/Peterman’s Construction/Pro. Wills held off Hay for second with Short fourth and Sliter rounding out the top five. The $1000 victory was Hill’s first win at East Bay.
Delaware drivers won all three nights of the TUSA Winternationals. Thirty-seven drivers from seven states, two Canadian Providences, Australia and the United Kingdom took part in the series. Delaware drivers finished in four of the top seven spots on the final night: James Hill 1st; Jimmy Wills 2nd; Ty Short 4th; and Erik McKinney 7th. Nick Nash recovered from a mid race tangle to finish in 11th while Nick Sapp was involved in the first lap crash and finished 23rd. No Delaware drivers failed to qualify.
1st “B” Main Finish: 1. Ken Meadows; 2. Joe Isabelle; 3. Doug Williams; 4. Erik McKinney; 5. Lynn Knepper; 6. Tyler Riggs; 7. Randy Bryan; DNQ: Eric Varin; Joel Huggins; Tom Schnable; Dan Kviring.
2nd “B”Main Finish: 1. James Hill; 2. Chase Flatt; 3. Nick Nash; 4. Ross White; 5. Kevin Nicolino; 6 Simon Panton; 7. Justin Williams; DNQ: Chris Frank; Jason Whitehead; Jake Halcomb; DNS: David Appleby; Dean Provonost.
25-Lap Mod Lite Winternationals Finish: 1. James Hill; 2. Jimmy Wills; 3. Mikey Hay; 4. Ty Short; 5. Josh Sliter; 6. Doug Williams; 7. Erik McKinney; 8. Chase Flatt; 9. Tyler Riggs; 10. Lynn Knepper; 11. Nick Nash; 12. Kevin Nicolino; 13. Ross White; 14. Simon Panton; 15. Justin Williams; 16. Levi Spennerweber; 17. Joe Isabelle; 18. Randy Bryan; 19. Josh May; 20. Alan Knepper; 21. Andy Hennigar; 22. Jeff Isabelle, Jr.; 23. Nick Sapp; 24. Ken Meadows.