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Owen's win highlights races at Bronson Speedway

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Race report from June 30th

By Ryan Butler

Chip Owen’s commanding win in the Sportsman Class  on Saturday capped off a busy and exciting day of races at Bronson Speedway. 

Owen held off Sheldon Bowers and Chris Harvey in the final, and most contentious, race of the evening. Nationwide Series driver Jeffery Earnhardt, grandson of legendary NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, finished seventh, disappointing a packed crowd, many of whom had come to see him. 

“I was sweating starting the race,” Owen said, “there were a lot of new drivers out on the track and I thought I would take my time, make some room and make my way through the field.”

Driving hard early on, Earnhardt worked his way up from the back of the pack to second place, electrifying the crowd with each successive pass. But on lap 10, a caution because of a blown tire on Brian Hull’s No. 16 car slowed down his momentum. 

Packed tight together on the restart, Owen jumped ahead of the pack and never trailed again. 

Meanwhile, Earnhardt continued to fall back. 

In total, there were three yellow flags during the race. The 11-car field on the tight track at Bronson made racing difficult. The No. 65 car of Carl Hodge was towed off the track and Blaise Hetznecher’s No. 17 lost a chunk of its siding in a collision on lap 16. 

Drivers found similar difficulty in the close proximity of the preceding Open Wheel Modified race. Jason Garver won in the closest, and longest, race of the evening. 

After falling off the pace, Gary Southard of Bronson joined Garver and L.J. Grimm to become within a car length of the leader on lap 25. But on turn four, the No. 39 car got loose and Southard fell behind. 

Grimm had been nearly bumper-to-bumper with Garver for much of the race, which in part allowed Southard to get back in with the leaders. But after taking the lead on turn one of the first lap, the No. 27 car never relinquished his position in the highly contentious race. 

In the Pure Stock race, Williston’s Larry Welter Jr. took the lead on lap 6 and held off Bronson’s Tony Parker to take the checkered flag in the crowded 10-car field. Shane Nichols, in position to take third place, ran out of gas on the final lap, allowing hard-charging J.T. Holley to beat off a tight pack and secure a position in the top three. 

Polesitter Gordon Cole was knocked out of the race early. On lap 3 he spun out and his No. 121 car began smoking.  It was subsequently towed off the track.  In total, the yellow flag came out four times, all within the first 10 laps of the 20-lap race. 

The Hornets division saw two separate races, the first of which was a kidney-bean style run that required drivers to make right turns through paved interior stretches on the infield.  After getting his vehicle flipped on lap 4, Chiefland’s Jackson Fowler went on to win the eight-lap race. 

After the restart of the three-car field, Fowler took over right where he left on, taking the lead and holding it till race’s end. 

The unusual racing style provided small margin for error. Fowler’s was flipped on its side by Bronson’s Tommy Ausburn coming into turn three. Fowler left the car without any injury and track officials, during a red flag stop, were able to flip the car back on its wheels. 

“I love (Ausburn) as a driver and we have no hard feelings,” Fowler said. 

In the traditional Hornets race after the kidney bean feature, Stephen Frankland and Wade Parker rode tight together for most of the race. Frankland passed the finish line first but was penalized for spinning out Parker after turn four on the final lap. It allowed Parker in the No. 20 car to secure the win and Fowler, racing immediately after getting flipped in the race before, to finish second. 

In the Legends race, Tom Monopoli was able to help coach his daughter, Becca Minopoli, to the win. After  a tough race that saw him spin out on lap 5 and eventually leave the race after car troubles on lap 10, the senior Monopoli stayed on the infield to support his daughter.  She took the lead on lap 7 and held off Donovan Ponder to take first in the four-car field.  

“I didn’t want to screw it up, Becca Monopoli said, “I just tried to take it easy the last few laps.”

The first race of the evening provided the biggest margin of victory. Driving the 08 car, 20-year-old Evan Page lapped every other racer in the easy victory. It was Page’s first competitive race on asphalt. 

“You just got to keep going. You never know, sometimes another driver can sneak up behind you,” Page said.