OCALA, FL – Mark Whitener of Middleburg, FL won the Winter Shootout 40-lap Main Event for the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Thursday night at Bubba Raceway Park driving the ULC Land Clearing Special. Whitener took the lead from Kyle Bronson of Brandon, FL on lap 22, and then held off a late race charge from Bronson to take the win.

               For Whitener and his crew, 48 hours of hard work was worth the effort to get their #5w machine to Victory Lane. The finished brand new race car was picked up from the Barry Wright Race Cars shop in South Carolina on Tuesday, and hit the race track for the first time during Wednesday night’s Open Practice at Bubba Raceway Park.

               Whitener failed to hit the mark in qualifying, as he was out of the top five that transferred to the main event. They got the new car real close to where they wanted it after Whitener won the third 12-lap B-Main and earned an inside seventh row starting spot for the big show.

               “We have fought this race car for the past two days ever since we picked it up on Tuesday,” Whitener said.  “The more we adjusted it, the faster it got, and we had one fast hot rod for the main event. I knew Kyle likes the outside here at Bubba Raceway Park, so we passed him on the bottom because we had to go where he wasn’t. He stayed on the top late in the race, but we came here to get a NeSmith Golden Helmet Trophy tonight!”

               After passing Bronson for the lead on lap 22, Whitener had pulled out to a full straightaway lead over Bronson, who was busy trying to hold off Walker Arthur of Forest, VA for the second spot. A late-race caution flag on lap 37 set up a four-lap dash to the finish. Whitener held his ground on the bottom of the track, while Bronson climbed up on the top shelf trying to get a run on Whitener.

               Bronson came close, but he was .334 seconds short at the checkered flag, and had to settle for second spot in the Brandon Ford Special. Arthur finished third in the Cecil B. Arthur Beef Farms Special, and Devin Dixon of Apollo Beach, FL took the fourth spot in the Dave’s Towing Rocket. 

               Don O’Neal of Martinsville, IN came back from a cut tire on lap ten to finish fifth in the Whelen Engineering Rocket, and Tyler Bare of Rockridge Baths, VA was sixth in the May’s Recycling Rocket. Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, IN took the seventh spot in the Lineal Contracting Special, and Logan Roberson of Waynesboro, VA drove the Dirt Defender Rocket to an eighth-place finish.

               While Jimmy Elliott finished ninth in the Car Smart Auto Sales Special, it was a big finish for the Cleveland, TN driver. Elliott took a provisional and started 24th to race his way to not only the Beyea Headers Hard Charger of the Race Award, but he also became the new point leader for the Rock Winter Shootout Series.

               Elliott will have the honors on Friday night at Bubba Raceway Park of carrying the day-glow red Advance Lazer and Machine Point Leader rear spoiler on his race car. Elliott has a four-point lead over three-time NeSmith Late Model National Champion and National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame Inductee Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, TN, 176 to 172.

               Ivedent Lloyd Jr. of Ocala, FL rounded out the top ten in the Vivid Graphics Special. In preliminary action, Bronson was the Sunoco/Knowles Race Parts and Bodies Fast Qualifier among the 51 entrants with a lap around the unique 3/8-mile egg-shaped clay oval in 14.974 seconds. 

            The four 12-lap B-Main Races were won by Dennis “Rambo” Franklin of Gaffney, SC in the Baird Transport Special, Don O’Neal, Whitener, and Riley Hickman of Ooltewah, TN in the Hickman Manufacturing CVR.
            Bronson took the lead at the drop of the green flag followed by Dixon, Keith Barbara of South Park, PA in the Royal Flush, Inc. Rocket, Hudson O’Neal, and Conner Meade of Clay City, KY in the Jay Construction Special. The 2013 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Rookie of the Year had his car on kill, as by lap six, Bronson had a half straightaway lead on Dixon.
            Barbara brought out the first of seven caution flags on lap eight after he spun in heavy lapped traffic coming off the fourth turn. The first Dixie-Style Double-File Restart of the race had Bronson leading with Dixon, Hudson O’Neal, Meade, Roberson, Arthur, Lloyd, Don O’Neal, Andy Picklesimer of Ooltewah, TN in the Hyma Motorsports Special, and Whitener doubled up behind him for the restart.
            Lloyd stepped to the outside when the green bulb was relit and came from seventh to fourth by the time they came back around to the start-finish line. The race pace was slowed for the second time on lap ten when Don O’Neal cut sown a left-front tire. The top ten for the restart was Bronson, Dixon, Hudson O’Neal, Lloyd, Meade, Roberson, Arthur, Whitener, Franklin, and Justin Williams of Concord, VA in the Clary’s Used Cars Rocket.
            Franklin’s top ten run ended on lap 14 when he slowed to a stop in turn two to light up the yellow bulb for the third time in the race. Whitener suddenly became a big blip on the radar of the top five in the race.
            The ever-changing top ten for the restart was Bronson, Dixon, Hudson O’Neal, Whitener, Lloyd, Bare, Williams, Arthur, Roberson and Meade. Hudson O’Neal stepped to the outside to sail around Dixon for second on the restart, but before the field could get into a rhythm, Drew Kennedy of Lansing, TN hit the back straightaway wall in the Schubert Monument Sales Rocket.
            The caution flag came right back out on lap 17 when Sam Seawright of Fort Payne, AL spun the J&R Lumber Special in turn four. Now Whitener became a threat for the win. The top ten for the restart saw Bronson leading with Hudson O’Neal, Whitener, Arthur, Dixon, Lloyd, Roberson, Williams, Bare, and Meade doubled up behind the leader.
            While Bronson was able to maintain a lead, Hudson O’Neal, Whitener and Arthur battled two and three-wide for the second spot. Whitener took over the runner-up spot on lap 20 and he began to slowly reel in the leader Bronson. Lloyd cut down a tire on lap 22 to bring out the sixth caution flag of the race.
            Bronson’s lead over Whitener was gone for the restart that also saw Dixon, Hudson O’Neal, Arthur, Bare, Elliott, Roberson, Williams, and Don O’Neal running third through tenth respectively. All attention was at the front of the pack when the green flag came back out to restart the race.
            Whitener did not disappoint, as he pulled alongside Bronson to battle for the lead through turns one and two, down the backstretch, through turn three, and then Whitener took the lead coming off the fourth turn. Once Whitener established himself on the point, he began to check out. Walker passed Bronson for second on lap 26, and by lap 32, Whitener was in lapped traffic.
            The lapped traffic didn’t slow “The Magicman” down because he had pulled out to a full straightaway lead over Arthur with five laps to go. In the meantime, Bronson caught his second wind and sailed around the outside of Arthur to regain second, but he could barely see the leader in front of him because Whitener was gone.
            Bronson needed a caution flag and he got one on lap 37 when Picklesimer stalled in turn two. Whitener’s big lead was gone. As they set up for a four-lap shootout to the checkered flag, Bronson, Arthur, Hudson O’Neal, Bare, Don O’Neal, Dixon, Williams, Roberson, and Elliott doubled up in the top ten behind the leader. It was now Showtime!
            The battle lines had been drawn when the green light flashed on. Whitener would hold the bottom groove, and Bronson would challenge from the top of the race track. Bronson had several runs on Whitener coming off the corners, but Whitener was just too strong off the bottom for Bronson to get by.
            With the checkered flag in the air, the crowd came to their feet, and Whitener took the win with Bronson camped out on his right-rear quarter panel. Whitener and Bronson, along with the rest of the field showed what fans will see in Friday night’s 40-lap $2,000-to-win main event, and Saturday night’s $10,000-to-win 100-lap 14th Annual Chevrolet Performance World Championship Race.

            For more information and rules about the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series, visit the series web site at, or visit the series on Facebook at NeSmith Racing. Becoming a fan of the NeSmith Racing Facebook page will make you eligible for special prizes that will be given away each month. You can follow us on Twitter @NeSmithRacing.


POS       STRT    CAR #  DRIVER                              HOMETOWN                    LAPS    $ WON 
1.            13          5w          Mark Whitener                 Middleburg, FL                40          $2,000
2.            1             40b        Kyle Bronson                     Brandon, FL                     40          $1,000
3.            10          87          Walker Arthur                   Forest, VA                           40          $700
4.            3             58          Devin Dixon                       Apollo Beach, FL              40          $550
5.            12          14          Don O’Neal                         Martinsville, IN                 40          $500
6.            18          30          Tyler Bare                          Rockridge Baths, VA       40          $425
7.            5             24r        Hudson O’Neal                  Martinsville, IN                 40          $375
8.            6             17          Logan Roberson                Waynesboro, VA               40          $350
9.            24          J39        Jimmy Elliott                     Cleveland, TN                    40          $325
10.         7             33x        Ivedent Lloyd Jr.              Ocala, FL                            40          $300
11.         15          89          Justin Williams                 Concord, VA                      40          $275
12.         19          7a          Corey Almond                   Appomattox, VA               40          $250
13.         17          16          Sam Seawright                  Fort Payne, AL                  40          $225
14.         23          85          Ronnie Johnson                 Chattanooga, TN              40          $200
15.         2             1             Conner Meade                   Clay City, KY                    40          $175
16.         21          5d          Rodgerick Dykes               Smith Station, AL             39          $150
17.         22          00          Ben Garner                        Greenfield, TN                  39          $140
18.         8             P1          Andy Picklesimer             Ooltewah, TN                    31          $125
19.         14          R1          Riley Hickman                   Ooltewah, TN                    21          $125
20.         16          K37       Drew Kennedy                   Lansing, TN                       13          $125
21.         9             22          Austin Burns                      Morgantown, IN               13          $125
22.         11          2             Dennis Franklin                Gaffney, SC                        13          $125
23.         4             RJ1       Keith Barbara                   South Park, PA                  9             $125
24.         20          6b          Dillon Brown                      Gaffney, SC                        9             $125

PROVISIONALS: Johnson and Elliott
LAP LEADERS: Bronson, 1-21; Whitener, 22-40
LAP LEADERS: Bronson, 21; Whitener, 19
BEYEA HEADERS HARD CHARGER OF THE RACE: Elliott (started 24th and finished 9th)
TIME OF THE RACE: 36 Minutes and 57.661 Seconds
NEXT EVENT: February 23, Bubba Raceway Park, $2,000-to-win, 40 Laps

NeSmith Chevrolet, Buick, GMC of Claxton, GA is the Title Sponsor of the NeSmith Late Models. NeSmith Chevrolet, Buick, GMC is one of the nation’s top GM Powertrain and Performance Dealer seven years running, with free delivery anywhere in the Southeast. Chevrolet Performance Parts is an Official Sponsor of the NeSmith Late Models. Hoosier Racing Tire is the Official Tire Sponsor of the NeSmith Late Models. Sunoco Race Fuels is the Official Race Fuel of the NeSmith Late Models. is an Associate Sponsor of the NeSmith Late Models. Beyea Headers the NeSmith Late Model Hard Charger Sponsor. Knowles Race Parts and Bodies is the Official Parts Supplier for the NeSmith Late Models. Cruise With The Champions is the Official Vacation and Rookie of the Year Sponsor for the NeSmith Late Models. David Smith Carburetors is the Official Carburetor of NeSmith Racing. Freestyle Graphix is the Official Wrap, Banner, and Sign Company of NeSmith Racing. NeSmith Late Model Contingency Sponsors for 2017 are Out-Pace Performance, CrateInsider.Com, Gresham Racing Parts, Knowles Racing Parts and Bodies, and FreeStyle Graphix. 2017 Chassis Sponsors are Trak-Star Race Cars, Warrior Race Cars, Rocket Chassis, GRT Race Cars, and CVR Race Cars.