No results at this time.

Upcoming Events

Schedule TBA

Current Points

No points at this time.


Richie Stephens Wins at East Bay

Richie Stephens Wins at East Bay

GIBSONTON, Fla. (Feb. 3) — Four drivers waged war for supremacy in a 20-lap Crate Racin’ USA Late Model Sportsman feature during the opening event of a three-race weekend Thursday night at East Bay Raceway Park, and the lead battle featured at least four different competitors in a $500-to-win event that was held at the third-mile oval as part of the traditional Florida Winternationals.

Three different drivers [Seth Wimpey, Mario Gresham and eventual winner Richie Stephens] exchanged the lead on three occasions, and Stephens paced the final five circuits after taking the point just prior to the race’s sixth and final caution period that appeared on the 16th trip around the third-mile facility. Stephens didn’t want to see that final caution after sprinting past Wimpey, who led the race twice for two laps, including taking command and leading the first lap after starting from the pole position.

Stephens used the last caution period to his advantage and got a good jump on the restart, and raced to the line ahead of Wimpey and Tucker Anderson. The trailing pair crossed the stripe in a side-by-side formation with a slight edge going to Wimpey as the dueling duo went under the checkered flag.

Completing the top five in a 20-car field were John-Wayne Haynes and Joe Denby.

It was a victory that Stephens badly wanted. He’s admittedly had a streak of bad luck in the Adam-Stewart-managed organization’s scattered events for 602 Chevrolet Performance Circle Track Engine-powered machines, and has been focused on getting one of the sanctioning body’s famed helmet trophies after the current owner purchased the company from its series founder Mike Vaughn in 2019.

“I’ve got a couple of them helmets in the past when there was a different sponsor involved, but not since he [Adam] took charge and they got the new sponsorship from Newsome Raceway Parts,” Stephens said. “I went over to talk to Adam right after the race, and to let him know how proud I was to win this one.”

Stephens fell as far back as fourth spot in a highly-competitive affair that was contested at a track known for its raceability, and the place certainly didn’t disappoint. Competitors were able to run across the entire track surface, creating intense restarts and triggering much side-by-side racing.

“It messed me up a little bit when they decided to let our division race first, because the flipped schedule didn’t give us much time between races to do what I felt we needed to do to the car,” Stephens said. “When I fell behind a little bit in the race, I just had to calm down. I finally did, and just drove back through there.”

Stephens blew the engine in his 604 Late Model the previous weekend during a Winter Shootout Series event at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., and will concentrate on 602 Late Model Sportsman competition during the rest of the weekend. The popular division is featured in three straight nights of competition during the

“I’ve had a monkey on my back for about six months, and I’m finally glad to get rid of him,” Stephens said. “It seemed like every time I raced, something was gonna blow up or get torn up, or I’d get run over by someone. We finally had one go the way we needed. I’m gonna race the rest of the week here because it’s such a great track. I don’t care if we’re racing wheelbarrows…I’m always gonna try to be here when they open the gates.”

It was far from an easy victory. The track surface was exhibiting its typically-racy behavior, and the competition bordered on wild at various junctures of the race. At one point, Wimpey took the lead away from Mario Gresham in heavy lapped traffic, but only paced a single circuit before handing it to Stephens for good.

“We were all racing hard, and I actually saved ole’ [Seth] Wimpey out there one time a little earlier,” Stephens said. “He hit the outside wall, which turned him sideways in front of me, and I hit him and turned him back straight. He was just about spun out and headed for the infield, but I just happened to be there. It was some good racing, and I’m glad to win one.”

Florida Winternationals 602 (Night One): 1. Richie Stephens, 2. Seth Wimpey, 3. Tucker Anderson, 4. John-Wayne Haynes, 5. Joe Denby, 6. Zack Owens, 7. Wyatt Gainey, 8. Kyle Beck, 9. Brandon Yates, 10. Matt Thompson, 11. Jason Hayes, 12. Troy Dixon, 13. Mario Gresham, 14. Justin Rabon, 15. Quentin Steedley, 16. Micha McCall, 17. Craig Montesi Jr., 18. Jamie Anderson, 19. Chuck Hardgrove, 20. Austin Leamon.

Entries: 21
Fast Qualifier: Richie Stephens, 16.404 seconds
Lap leaders: Seth Wimpey, 1, Mario Gresham, 2-8, Wimpey, 9; Stephens, 16-20.
Cautions: 6
Heat winners: Richie Stephens, Seth Wimpey, Mario Gresham.

Article Credit: Brian McLeod