MANATEE COUNTY -- For most of Saturday night's J.D. Byrider Open Wheel Modified feature at Desoto Speedway, it looked as if D.J. Hoelzle would lead all 40-laps of the night's main event.
But when the dust settled after a frantic final four laps that saw Hoelzle and other leaders eliminated with mechanical issues and crashes, it was Cody Stickler who found himself sitting in the winner's circle with his third feature win of the year.
Hoelzle started on the pole and quickly began pulling away at the drop of the green flag. Eight laps in Dalton Nelson and L.J. Grimm got together racing for third place, sending both cars into a spin. Both cars were able to continue, with Grimm keeping the third spot and Nelson being sent to the rear of the 10-car field by race officials.
Palmetto's Nick Hernandez had worked his way up through the field and passed Eric Purcell for third lap 28. For the next eight laps, Hoelzle, Grimm, Hernandez and Purcell ran nose-to-tail around the 3/8-mile oval. As the field completed lap 36 Hoelzle got loose and spun in turn one, nearly taking Hernandez into the wall.
Purcell also spun into the infield trying to avoid Hoelzle's car. Hoelzle's night came to an end with an apparent engine failure.
Grimm and Hernandez started on the front row for the double-file restart with four laps to go. Coming into turn four after the restart, Purcell was challenging Hernandez for the second spot. Purcell broke loose and collected Hernandez, sending both cars nearly head-on into the wall. Neither driver was injured in the incident.
Stickler started on the outside of the front row on the final restart and nosed just ahead of Grimm at the end of lap 37. Stickler would pull away over the final laps and cruised to his third win of the year.
Grimm finished second and extended his points lead over Nelson. Cameron Ray finished third.
Desoto Speedway also hosted the Florida School Bus Figure 8 Championship. Jason Graham started on the pole and led the first few laps. Mike Gamache, winner of the last school bus race at Desoto, grabbed the lead on a restart and appeared to be in control of the event.
At about the halfway point, Gamache was going through the middle of the "x" when he collided with William Hindman at full speed. The violent wreck - one of the worst accidents in recent times at Desoto - turned Gamache's bus into a fireball the flipped completely over before coming to a rest.
Hindman had to be cut out of his destroyed bus, while Gamache jumped out of his wrecked bus to the amazement of the capacity crowd.
Graham assumed the lead after the accident and led the rest of the way.
In other action Saturday night, Bradenton's Dennis Wilson held off John Sappraicone Jr. to win the 35-lap Sunbelt Rentals of Fort Myers Street Stock feature; Johnny Marra picked up his first win in the Mini Stock feature; Richard Nelson won the Cowboy Cadillac main event; Michael Cherry won the Pro Figure 8 feature; Clint Snyder won his second consecutive Bomber feature; and Hindman won the demolition derby that took place less than half an hour after the bus accident.
Desoto Speedway will return to racing action on July 12. The Turner Tree and Landscape Super Late Models will headline the night of racing.
July 5th the speedway will have Drifting under the lights. drifting event starts at 5 till midnight
DESOTO SPEEDWAY RACE RESULTS
Open Wheel Modified...
1. 99 Cody Stickler Pinellas Park
2. 25 L. J. Grimm Seffner
3. 9 Camron Ray Homosassa
4. 21 Devon Mcleod Zepheyerhills
5. 75 Bobby Blake Grand Isle
6. 94 Dalton Nelson Pinellas Park
7. 45 Joey Logan Bradenton
8. 8 D.J. Hoelzle Clearwater
9. 37 Nick Hernandez Palmetto
10. 51 Eric Purcell St. Cloud
1. 42 Dennis Wilson Bradenton
2. 51 Johnnie Sapricone Bradenton
3. 91 Ander Jackson `Punta Gorda
4. 6 James Nanny Bradenton
5. 80 Richard Nelson Port Charlotte
6. 64 Dave Bowman Bradenton
7. 7 Blaine Baer Port Charlotte
8. 10 Jason Miller Lehigh
9. 57 Jim Brenner Sarasota
10. 22 James Dellea 3rd. Port Charlotte
1. 15 Clint Snyder North Port
2. 39 Jerry Tetting Nokomis
3. 57 Aaron Holmes Adale
4. 20 Tristan Collins North Port
5. 22 Ann Marie Ricardi Naples
6. 75 Carl Thompson Adale
1. 99 Johnny Marra Port Charlotte
2. 84 Ron Sorenson Pineallas Park
3. 05 Ronnie Robinson Bradenton
4. 98 Chris Larson Zephyrhills
5. 85 Amy Gamache Tarpon Spprings
6. 91 Jessica Ostrovskis St. Pete
7. 4 Zak Graham Seminole
8. 71 Robert Fellows Auburndale
9. 28 Kelly Hahn Mulberry
10. 16 Cody Riley St Pete
11. 18 Fred Wilson Mulberry
12. 0 RandyTyler Tampa D.N.S.
1. 80 Richard Nelson Port Charlotte
2. 2 Lance Sober Punta Gorda
3. 63 James Wright Naples
4. 5 Ed Snyder North Port
5. 6 Kris Bridges Venice
6. 62 Rudi Jadoul Port Charlotte
7. 32 Shawn Schault Punta gorda
Pro Figure 8
1. 17 Michael Cherry Tampa
2. 6 Shawn Senokossoff Clearwater
3. 9 Bobby Gorden Sarasota
4. 01 Shannon Lengell Brooksville
5.48 Denny Harris Spring Hill
6. 94 Charles Meyer Pinellas Park
1. 4 Jason Graham Seminole
2. 76 James Volk Bradenton
3. 32 Jim Erb Orlando
4. 90 Craig Jackson Bradenton
5. 8up Terry Lewis Tarpon Springs
6. 0 Mike Gamache Tarpon Springs
7. 88 Krazy Larry Saradota
8. 89 William Hindman Orlando
9.47 Brian Donahue Bradenton
10. 25 Jeremy Bates Bradenton
11. Flag Bus John
12. 14 Mark Jackson Bradenton
1.89 William Hindman Orlando
2. 69 Keith Sammon Vero Beach
10 cars started the race