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Stephens Takes Another at East Bay Raceway Park

Stephens Takes Another at East Bay Raceway Park

GIBSONTON, Fla. (Feb. 4) — One night after topping a tough four-way battle for victory in a Crate Racin’ USA Late Model Sportsman event at East Bay Raceway Park, Richie Stephens of Phenix City, Ala., made it look a little easier on the second night of a three-race weekend with a solid victory in a 20-lap event at the third-mile oval as the 46th edition of the Florida Winternationals continued at the famed oval.

The race, which was held in conjunction with a Crate Racin’ USA Winter Shootout Series event, was shortened to 15 circuits after a multitude of caution flags slowed the pace and put the track’s curfew into play for the night, and Stephens took the honors by a comfortable margin over Seth Wimpey, John-Wayne Hughes, David Showers Jr. and Tucker Anderson.

A 21-car field went to the starting grid, and Stephens rolled from the pole to a solid win as a whopping eight cautions slowed the pace of the event. Staying well ahead of the chaos, Stephens notched his second win in two nights, and credited the return of his crew chief Montana Dudley as a key to his victory.

“Montana and his wife [Dakota] were having a baby, and he went home to be with her,” Stephens said. “Then he drove six or seven hours back here, and it really made a difference tonight. We found something, and it was a night-and-day difference. We had a totally different race car from the one we had last night. Last night the car wouldn’t take off, but once I got going on restarts the car was pretty good. Tonight it was a much better car all the way around.”

Wimpey, who was among the leaders in a torrid battle for the point the previous night, settled for a runnerup finish and was a good distance behind Stephens when the race was shortened due to looming time constraints.

“Definitely not quite as as good as last night,” Wimpey said. “We had way too much gear in the car. We’ve gotta pull some gear out, and run the bottom.”

Sponsors on Stephens’ car included Knott’s Towing, Fox Shocks, Central Pumps and Compressors, AGS Auto Glass, TMT Utilities, Hurst Construction, The Hooch, The Black Cow, Allstar Graphix, Southeastern Performance, Car Tek and Keller-Williams Realty (Ashley Stephens).

Florida Winternationals 602 (Night Two): 1. Richie Stephens, 2. Seth Wimpey, 3. John-Wayne Haynes, 4. David Showers Jr., 5. Tucker Anderson, 6. Micha McCall, 7. Joe Denby, 8. Wyatt Gainey, 9. Kyle Beck, 10. Troy Dixon, 11. Brandon Yates, 12. Craig Montesi Jr., 13. Zack Owens, 14. Chuck Hargrove, 15. Jamie Anderson, 16. Austin Leamon, 17. Quentin Steedley, 18. Jason Hayes, 19. Justin Rabon, 20. Matt Thompson, 21. Mario Gresham.

Entries: 21
Fast Qualifier: Seth Wimpey, 16.650 seconds
Lap leaders: Richie Stephens, 1-15.
Cautions: 8
Heat winners: Joe Denby, Richie Stephens, Seth Wimpey.

Article Credit: Brian McLeod