Saturday, February 8, 2020

1975 – Ferkel cops Winternationals opener

Rick Ferkel 

Tampa, Fla. (February 8, 1975) – Rick Ferkel thought the race would never end.

Three times, spinning cars brought out the caution that called for realignment of the field and cost him the lead he had built.

But at the finish, the Bowling Green, Ohio, driver was still three-quarters a lap on the old half-mile Florida State Fairgrounds oval in front of rest of the field.

So Ferkel won the first of the Winternational Sprint Series at Plant Field on Saturday afternoon. He finished ahead of Chuck Amati of Marion, Ill., and Greg Leffler of North Vernon, Ind.

It was the three yellow flags that made the race seem so long. Each time the pace car went out to line up the field while the track was cleared and each time Ferkel lost nearly half a lap advantage he had earned.

That means he raced a lot mor than the scheduled 30 laps.

“When I saw the halfway signal, I thought to myself, ‘Oh no, this race has to be over,’” he said.

He had a close call. He hooked a wheel in a rut between the first and second turns and almost went completely out of control.

In spite of the threat of the cold weather, the weather worked just right for the Fair races. The sun shown hot and bright and coaxed out a crowd of 7,563, the biggest crowd to attend a Fair race since 1970.

The track was good enough that Joe Saldana of Lincoln, Neb., set a new 15-lap record in winning the consolation. He was time in at 6 minutes and 48.46 seconds. The old record, set by Jud Larson in 1965, was 6 minutes and 55.69 seconds.

The consolation qualified three of the real hustlers into the feature, Amati, Saldana and Leffler. Jan Opperman also qualified by way of the consy but he had handling issues in the feature and finished well down on the list.

Heat races were won by Roger Rager, Daryl Dawley, and Larry Kirkpatrick. Ferkel also won a 6-lap match race.

Results –

Heat #1 – Roger Rager
Heat #2 – Daryl Dawley
Heat #3 – Larry Kirkpatrick
Match race – Rick Ferkel
Consolation – Joe Saldana
Feature –
1. Rick Ferkel
2. Chuck Amati
3. Greg Leffler
4. Joe Saldana
5. Bill Utz
6. Dean Shirley
7. Larry Kirkpatrick
8. Ralph Parkinson Jr.
9. Butch Wilkerson
10.Roger Rager

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