Thompson wins ProTrucks, Lambert Takes Rain Delayed Sportsmen; Tutchtone is Outlaw winner Goff Grabs Pure Stock Win.

Mother Nature Can’t Spoil 2020 FFS Debut, 14-year-old Thompson’s first win highlights Opening Night

By Chuck Corder

Nearly two months to the day COVID-19 pandemic waved the red caution on the season, short-track drivers from across the Gulf Coast drivers descended upon Five Flags Speedway.

The famed half-mile asphalt oval had bee closed since mid-March following all local and state public safety guidelines concerning the unknown coronavirus.

You remembered what happened: The 2020 schedule was set to begin with the ARCA Pensacola 200 on the March 13-14 weekend just as COVID-19 became a pandemic.

Professional sports organizations began postponing events. The track, naturally, followed suit canceling the ARCA Pensacola 200 ensuring every fan, driver, team, and official’s safety was the track’s top priority.

But with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) efforting for a gradual re-open of certain parts of the government and state’s entertainment, what better way to show our support and gather safely by scooping up one of the 1,500 tickets that were available for Friday night. As a 10,000-seat capacity facility, Pensacola’s high banks allows fans a safe distance apart, keep the drivers safe and put on an event. 

The show was full of heart-stopping action from the Faith Chapel Outlaws, Pro Trucks, The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen, and the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks.

Track officials and General Manager Tim Bryant made every attempt ahead of Friday night’s Opening Night festivities to provide a safe environment and venue for drivers, teams, and most importantly spectators. Spread across the grounds were hand sanitizer pumping machines and all staff were wearing gloves and masks.

Everything seemed to be aligning at first on Friday.

Masks and gloves were being used by all track essential workers, as well as most fans. The local divisions with healthy car counts were, after five excruciating offseason months, set to ring in the 2020 racing schedule on Friday night at America’s Favorite Home Track.

Instead, Mother Nature had other ideas.

The sky was a bit overcast, but the sun was peaking between white, cotton-ball clouds. And as the afternoon got underway, qualifying runs were conducted, and the forecast seemed promising.

Once pre-racing festivities began close to approximately 8 p.m., it appeared that after an extended offseason of short-track racing, beating and banging were returning to famed half-mile asphalt oval.

Young Grant Thompson, 14, dominated the first feature race of the season – a Pro Truck 35-lap feature – dominating a 35-lap victory against Darryl Rudd and Cameron Weinberg.

“I appreciate everybody running me a clean race,” said Thompson in a Kurt Britt truck, a name all familiar with designing winning trucks. “We were a little faster than what our family trucks were last year. But I really appreciate him letting me drive this piece.”


The Faith Chapel Outlaws

More than a year after Bill Tutchtone notched his first career Five Flags victory, the Pensacola veteran driver is score another 35-laps feature to show he has plenty more left in the tank.

Defending series champion Kody Brusso had mechanical issues, and failed to compete/

The 20-car field was well-behaved, with only one caution.

“This was my old late model, and it’s an awesome team that support this fast ca,” Tutchtone said. “Fast for Derby. Long time coming.


The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen

The Sportsmen initially completed 18 of 25 laps Friday night before a rain shower prompted a delay, Once they race resumed, 20-year-old Hunter Lambert scored his first career victory at Five Flags Speedway with a 20-lap feature win in The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen class.

Shanna Ard finished second and Jim Pokrant finished third.


The Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks

Jerry Goff backed up his Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks Snowball Derby champion from last year, by winning the 20-lap season opening feature on Friday at Five Flags Speedway.

“This is our first (official) win on the oval track,” Goff said. “I’m so happy for this group out here. I would not be here without all these guys.”