Damian Gardner Reign In Florida Continues

Ocala, Fla. – Damian Gardner might just as well take up residency in Florida as he continues to master the sunshine state’s dirt tracks. Picking up where he left off a year ago, Gardner opened the 2012 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car season with a compelling victory in the 30-lap feature at the newly named Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida.

Gardner won for the third time in four tries at the “Bubba Winter Dirt Games” on Ocala’s 1/3-mile dirt oval and overall in Florida, including a run at East Bay Raceway Park, he has carted home five trophies in six attempts.

Grabbing the lead in the DG Racing/Pace Lightning/Eagle/Shaver on the sixth lap, Gardner managed to stave off the repeated challenges of runner-up Jon Stanbrough and third-place finisher Brady Bacon to score the victory.

“I led from near the outset and the idea is to lead just enough,” Gardner said. “The yellows (flags) worked for me until another car blew up, and that almost cost us the win. We got lucky a couple of times when the No. 69 (Bacon) drove by us, and we got him back. You just try not to go too fast and blowing them off, as you are going to wear out your tires. This is a great way to start off the new season and we love being in Florida.”

Stanbrough nipped Bacon in the final laps to take second place in the Roberts-Tate Racing/Leer Racing/DRC/Speedway.

“We started third and ended up second, which is not what we wanted,” Stanbrough said. “We got all we could get tonight, as we had to race the track and manage our tires. At the end, I didn’t know whether I had much tire left but I wanted to give it a try.”

The runner-up’s right rear tire was completely worn at the end.

Said Bacon about his valiant effort in the Dynamics, Inc./Mean Green-Mopar/Triple X/Stanton Mopar, “I thought I had that race won twice, but the yellows came out at some really bad times. The Hoffman car was super-fast, and I think we have a good package here. I think we have a good chance to win the next two nights.”

Bacon’s teammate Darren Hagen took fourth place with fast-qualifier Bryan Clauson ended up fifth.

Sixth through 10th were Bud Kaeding, Dave Darland, Casey Shuman, Kevin Thomas and Justin Grant.

Heat race victories went to Bacon, Stanbrough, Gardner and Shuman, and the B-main was taken by Grant.

Two more nights of USAC competition will take place at the Ocala track.

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