GIBSONTON, Fla. — Virginia late model racer Kyle Hardy waited out afternoon rain showers and went home with a $5,000 check after winning Saturday night’s Crate Racing USA late model finale during the 45th Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park.
Travis Varnadore was the early race leader until Phillip Cobb blasted by for the top spot on lap four. Lukon moved to second two laps later, bringing Hardy to third. Meanwhile, two-time feature winner Mark Whitener, who had started in the fifth row, had worked forward to move into the top five by the ninth lap.
The leader had entered lapped traffic on lap seven and Cobb was having little trouble bypassing backmarker. Hardy took second on lap 12 and began to chase down the leader. As the duo approached the flagstand, Hardy was in front by .009 seconds, the race’s third leader.
As the race stayed green, Whitener would begin to pester Cobb, finally slipping through on lap 26.
The first yellow flag on lap 32 for a Jake Knowles incident left 24 cars still in contention and the second yellow showed up two laps later for a Keith Nosbisch issue and another caution showed on lap 36. In just a few laps, the race for the lead would again intensify.
Whitener was looking for a lane and thought he found one beneath Delaware racer Ben Scott, but there was contact and Scott ended up in front of Hardy while Whitener spun but did not stop.
The contact caused some damage to the right front of Whitener’s car and, although he started second, he began to drop back, putting Cobb as the heir apparent. Right behind Cobb was 26th starting Kyle Bronson, who looked inside Cobb in a bid for second. Hardy was able to get some breathing room and go on to take the checkered flag for the top prize.
Kyle Hardy, Phillip Cobb, Kyle Bronson, Mark Whitener, Jason Welshan, Kyle Lukon, Jake Rainey, Shan Smith, Joseph Joiner, Steve Mathis Jr., Dylan Knowles, Trevor Collins, Travis Varnadore, Braeden Dillinger, Drew Kennedy, Tom Fiebelkorn, Derrick Shaw, Chad Osterhoff, Cory Hedgecock, Benjamin Scott, Michael Maresca, Jeremy Shaw, Keith Nosbisch, Frankie Lloyd, Jake Knowles, Mack McCarter.