TAMPA, FL…..2/17/11……”This is amazing,” shouted an excited Michael Dupuy so the folks could hear him all the way back in Amite, Louisiana. “I can’t wait ‘til Saturday night,” he told track announcer Larry Jewett in victory lane after winning his first-ever feature Thursday night at East Bay Raceway Park which was the first $1,500 preliminary night of the 13th Annual King of 360’s, part of the 35th Annual Winternationals on this 1/3 mile clay oval.
Although Dupuy’s margin of victory was slim, just .126 seconds over a fast closing Tim Shaffer, the winner confessed, “I kind of took it easy on those last five laps, but the Shark engine in this Eagle chassis never missed a beat. I was glad to win for this Channing-Zicroff team, they deserve it. We were together for eight races last season, but this was our first win as a team.”
The field of 41 cars was narrowed to 20 cars for the 25-lap feature by heat races and a passing point system which produced a front row of Danny Martin, Jr. and Danny Smith with Dupuy starting third, inside Thomas Kennedy and Chad Layton and Tim Shaffer in row three after a re-draw.
With Martin sticking with the inside lane, Smith stayed equal through turns one, two and three, but powered ahead off four to lead the first seven laps. Dupuy’s charge to the lead in his Number 3X sponsored by Jaz-Tex Service out of Houma LA, equipped with Hoosiers, Super Shocks, Weld Wheels and Simpson Safety gear came on lap eight.
Smith stayed close in second, but by the half-way mark Shaffer had passed Martin to move into third, just before the first caution for Tyler Godwin who clipped the front stretch wall. Thomas Kennedy and Terry McCarl made up the top five at this point.
When the green replaced the yellow flag, Dupuy pulled to a 1.5 second lead as Shaffer made his move to second. The chief mechanics on Dupuy’s car, Jeff Walker and Jamie Miller did their jobs well and their car stayed out front despite one more caution for Jessica Zemken who lost power on the front stretch on lap 18.
The last seven laps were exciting for the fans who watched the gap narrow between the leader and Shaffer who almost had a clean sweep in this event last year, but would fall just short of victory tonight. Shaffer in his new J&J admitted, “You are always learning something here. My hat is off the Al Varnadore and his track preparation crew tonight. They gave us two lanes and a great racetrack. I’m lucky to finish tonight because I ran over a torque tube from Godwin’s car. I heard it hit under my car.” His CH Motorsports number 83 will be a factor in the two races to come.
Smith finished third in his own Maxim with a borrowed engine from Kenny Megget. “It was great of Kenny to loan me this 360 because I wanted to come, but I didn’t have an engine. Dean Kniddle and Sam’s Auto Repair in Portsmouth gave me some help, also for this trip. We managed a decent finish, we had a good draw and we want to do the same tomorrow so we can get locked into Saturday’s show.”
After starting 10th Lou Kennedy, who owns his Moyle powered Eagle, made very few changes through the night except for front shocks and advanced to fourth at the finish. “ I drove my tail off in that feature. The track got wide and racey for me and it was great to advance six spots.” He carries sponsorship from www.kennedyflooring.com.
McCarl, who also drives his own Eagle car, started eighth and was up to sixth by lap eight. His car picked up local sponsorship from Kazboor’s, Hungry Howies, Bubba Que and Frubob and the crew made only minor shock changes all night and landed a top five finish at the end..
Rounding out the top ten it was Cap Henry, Daryn Pittman, Thomas Kennedy, Mark Smith and David Gravel. Heat race winners were Thomas Kennedy, Russ Hall, McCarl and Martin, Jr., while the first B-Main sent Pittman, M. Smith, Henry and Godwin to the back of the A-Main. Then Sam Hafertepe, Pat Cannon, Zemken and Gravel advanced from the second B to the A-Main..
Thanks, Jean Lynch for East Bay Raceway Park
STATS – KING OF THE 360 SPRINTS – EAST BAY RACEWAY PARK – THURSDAY, 2/17/11
1st Heat – 1)Thomas Kennedy 2)Lou Kennedy 3)Jessica Zemken 4)Sam Hafertepe 5)David Gravel 6)Dave Franck 7)Tyler Godwin 8)Tony Norem 9)Carl Zaniboni 10)Sport Allen DNS
2nd Heat – 1)Russ Hall 2)Danny Smith 3)T.J. Winegardner 4)Tim Shaffer 5)Arbery Black 6)Jim Porter 7)Terry Gray 8)RJ Johnson 9)Robbie Smith 10)Tony Agin 11)Keith Butler
3rd Heat – 1)Terry McCarl 2)Aaron Berryhill 3)Michael Dupuy 4)Daryn Pittman 5)Mark Smith 6)Cap Henry 7)Shane Kreidler 8)Greg Wilson 9)Lance Hester 10)A.J. Maddox
4th Heat – 1)Danny Martin, Jr. 2)Chad Layton 3)Brad Greer 4)Timmy Thrash 5)Ryan Grubaugh 6)Pat Cannon 7)Morgan Turpen 8)Klint Angelette 9)Bronson Maeshen 10)Ryan Moore
1st B – Main (Top 4 go to back of A inside row) – 1)Daryn Pittman 2)Mark Smith 3)Cap Henry 4)Tyler Godwin 5)Brad Greer 6)RJ Johnson 7)Morgan Turpen 8)Arbery Black 9)Klint Angelette 10)Ryan Moore 11)Lance Hester
12)Timmy Thrash 13)Carl Zaniboni 14)Sport Allen DNS 15)A.J. Maddox DQ
2nd B – Main (Top 4 go to back of A outside row) – 1)Sam Hafertepe 2)Pat Cannon 3)Jessica Zemken 4)David Gravel 5)Dave Franck 6)Jim Porter 7)Robbie Smith 8)Greg Wilson 9)Bronson Maeshen 10)Tony Norem 11)Tony Agin 12)Shane Kreidler 13)Terry Gray 14)Keith Butler
A – Main (25 Laps) – 1)Michael Dupuy 2)Tim Shaffer 3)Danny Smith 4)Lou Kennedy 5)Terry McCarl 6)Cap Henry 7)Daryn Pittman 8)Thomas Kennedy 9)Mark Smith 10)David Gravel 11)Chad Layton 12)Sam Hafertepe 13)Pat Cannon 14)Ryan Grubaugh 15)T.J. Winegardner 16)Jessica Zemken 17)Aaron Berryhill 18)Tyler Godwin 19)Danny Martin, Jr. 20)Russ Hall