De Caire Defies Rain, Earns First Winged Sprints Victory in Dramatic Green-White-Checkered Finishadmin
De Caire Defies Rain, Earns First Winged Sprints Victory in Dramatic Green-White-Checkered Finish
By Chuck Corder
Mother Nature tried to slow things down Friday at Five Flags Speedway.
Thankfully, the winged sprint cars only know one speed: wide open.
Despite a lengthy rain delay keeping Brian Gerster’s track record of 13.046 seconds safe for another year, a field of nine sprint cars put on another spectacular show at the famed half-mile asphalt oval.
The Tampa tandem of Troy De Caire and Joey Aguilar separated themselves from the field quickly and dazzled the spellbound crown throughout the 30-lap feature.
De Caire, who was the fast qualifier (14.180 seconds), led from flag-to-flag, but ultimately pulled away from Aguilar on a restart two laps from the checkered flag. It was De Caire’s ninth win of the season, but remarkably his first career victory at Five Flags Speedway.
“It’s about time,” said De Caire, who has now won at every asphalt oval racetrack in Florida. “Anytime you get to drive a racecar and make a little money, it’s a fun night. This is a fun, technical racetrack with a lot of dips you have to be ready for.”
Aguilar finished a close second
De Caire shot out front and built a sizable lead until Aguilar began chopping away by turning the fastest laps in the field.
Aguilar was a car length away from De Caire’s bumper by Lap 22. As the laps ticked off, De Caire brilliantly held off Aguilar and protected clean air.
“It really only takes two or three to have a good race,” De Caire said. “I was just kinda riding, just learning some stuff. Just trying to pace and see what I could do with these tires on this asphalt. Then, (Aguilar) pulled up next to me and I knew I had to go.”
But as they approached lapped traffic in the waning laps, Aguilar went to the bottom and nearly nosed ahead of De Caire, who was stuck going around the lapped cars on the high side.
The pair battled through the mess and made it out of Turn No. 4 before Francis Crowder spun in front of them down the front straightaway setting up a green-white-checkered finish that De Caire absolutely controlled en route to his milestone victory.
“I tell you what, we had something for Troy De Caire tonight,” Aguilar said. “The caution come out, and it’s a shame because I waited all night for that opportunity. Congrats to Troy, though. It’s a lotta fun racing with him.”
Modifieds of Mayhem
Cody Stickler always brings lightning-fast machines to Five Flags Speedway.
However, his best results were only podium finishes, including a third at the Modifieds Snowball Derby feature. That all changed Friday night at Pensacola’s high banks in the Modifieds of Mayhem 50 lapper.
Stickler, from Pinellas Park, calmly passed Augie Grill on Lap 27 and never broke a sweat down the stretch.
“He’s definitely one of best in business,” Stickler said of Grill. “It’s hard to beat him anywhere, but especially here at Five Flags.
“We’ve been coming here five years now, trying and trying to get a win. It feels good to finally get one.”
Grill finished runner-up and Max McDonald, driving Grill’s other No. 112 machine, rounded out the podium.
Stickler was the fastest of all 16 cars in qualifying with a lap of 17.717 seconds but started fifth after the redraw.
Grill took the lead from polesitter Parker Pugh on Lap 8 with Stickler following close behind. Following a restart with 22 laps completed, Stickler got a great run out of Turn No. 2 and nearly got by Grill for the lead. A few laps later, Stickler got the job done.
“Cody was much better around the middle (of the turns) than we were,” Grill said. “I gave it all I had, but we just needed it to be a little better.”
Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks
Darryl Jackson has quite the dynamic duo.
For the first two months of the 2021 season at Five Flags Speedway, Cameron Leytham dominated the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stock series in the Jackson-owned No. 8.
Since the calendar flipped to May, though, it has been all Robert Loper—Leytham’s teammate who drives Jackson’s No. 88.
Loper won for the fourth time in five races Friday evening at the famed half-mile asphalt oval. The Alabama driver topped nine other cars as the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks battled in a 25-lap feature instead of their customary 20 lappers.
In all, Jackson cars have won seven of the nine features in 2021.
“We work our butts off on these cars every week and it shows,” said Loper, who passed then-leader Jimmy Hollingsworth on Lap 14.
Dylan Courtney finished second and Caleb Burkett came home third.
“It took us awhile to figure it out, but I think we’re on the right track now,” Courtney said. “I think we were gaining on (Loper), but we just didn’t have enough time.”