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Experienced Nosbisch Defeats Younger Foes

Experienced Nosbisch Defeats Younger Foes

GIBSONTON, Fla. (Feb. 6) — The laps were dwindling away in a highly-competitive 50-lap Crate Racin’ USA Winter Shootout Series event Sunday afternoon at East Bay Raceway Park when veteran driver Keith Nosbisch cocked the hammer and pulled the trigger, heading to the top side of the third-mile oval to sweep past race leader Wil Herrington enroute to a $5,000 victory at the famed oval.

The race was the fifth completed event on the 2022 version of the eight-race miniseries that was originally scheduled to carry competitors to four different tracks in three states, and pays $2,500 to its overall champion. It was the third event in a three-race weekend at the track during the 46th version of the Florida Winternationals, and all three nights drew car counts in the low-to-mid-70s to compete for the top prizes.

The race was held a day later than planned after rain the previous night delayed the event. A strong early-morning effort from promoter Al Varnadore and his track workers turned a muddy quagmire into a raceable surface after rain fell until 3:30 a.m., but the whole process delayed a planned 10 a.m. start. The wait proved worth it, as overcast daytime conditions helped keep the track surface moist and raceable, providing competitors with multiple grooves.

Nosbisch was the third different leader of the event, and led Cody Overton, Herrington, Garrett Mosely, Logan Roberson and the rest of a 28-car starting field across the stripe.

Nosbisch wasted little time taking the point from Herrington within a two-lap span after heading to the high side of the speedplant on the 40th circuit. It was a huge win for the 65-year-old competitor, who started competing at the track during the 1979 season and is perhaps the most successful local driver to ever launch a short track racing career from its fabled and tricky clay surface.

Winning One for Mom
Known as one of the most personable and often-hilarious storytellers in the game, the victory led to some subdued postrace moments in the pit area for the long-time veteran, who revealed with tears dripping down his cheeks that he’d lost his mother Shirley just a week prior to the event. Nosbisch tried to voice his thoughts, but for a few moments could barely get the words out about how special this win was to a driver who has collected so many of them during a career that is entering its 43rd season.

“It’s meaningful, and I nearly lost it up there on the stage doing the interviews—but my mother passed away about a week ago,” Nosbish said. “It’s not an easy thing to talk about, and my dad Jack also passed three years ago. I’ve lost them both in the last three years. It’s been difficult to accept that, for sure. I’m 65 years old, so everything could end at any moment, and we all face that reality as we get older. It is what it is, right? But yeah, it’s definitely an important win.”

Then his face brightened just a bit, he deliberately turned his words away from sadness, and his sense of humor was ready to fly. Nosbisch is one of the sport’s most treasured and successful characters, and he wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to toss a little good-natured teasing toward the two young drivers—both of whom are still in their 20s—who followed him across the stripe. Score one for the old guys, and the gritty Nosbisch wasn’t about to forget it.

“You think people realize yet that a 65-old-man who’s on Medicare just beat all these young bucks, and that same guy might need a damn walker any minute?” Nosbisch quipped. “I’m thinking some of these young boys might need to go to the gym, because they must have got tired arms out there.”

Typical Nosbisch, who rarely misses a chance to share a good laugh in the pits, or to enjoy a fat cigar while leaning into his car’s engine in the pit area. The veteran competitor meant no harm by his comments directed toward younger, hard-working drivers whom he knows are on their way to higher levels of success in the sport. He was looking happy again, and was ready to celebrate his victory against a field of entries that swelled to over 70 cars for the third straight night.

Nosbisch rarely fails to have a good time, and is actually much respected by the younger group of drivers now infiltrating a local racing scene he once owned. Perhaps the Sunshine State’s most accomplished competitor in terms of victories at one particular racetrack, Nosbisch is actually no stranger to success no matter the location. He’s just happened to do most of his racing closer to his residence in Valrico, Fla., having discovered a home at the historic track not long after it was built in the late 70s. His whole family raced here, including his two brothers. The Nosbisch family name might as well be listed on the property deed.

Battling Through the Pack
Nosbish sure owned the place on this day. Getting noticeably faster and more consistent through the weekend’s three-race engagement, he was buried in the field at the start. He was so far back that he looked ahead through the field of cars from the 14th spot on the grid, and walked ahead in the lineup to joke around with front-row starter Overton, who had been good-naturedly giving the older veteran a hard time in the pit area about winning the race.

Joking with Nosbisch, Overton laughed and told the wily driver that if he managed to win the race, he wanted one of Nosbisch’s signature fat cigars that often hangs from the corner of the veteran driver’s mouth.

“Tell you what,” Nosbisch said to Overton. “You win this race today, and this old man will find a way to stumble over there to victory lane and give you one of his damn cigars.”

Well…save that cigar for another time. Nosbisch didn’t need to make the stogie donation, and especially after making his own journey through the pack in an event held in daytime race conditions that featured plenty of side-by-side racing. There were multiple grooves to run, and Nosbisch used ‘em all.

Overton Takes Second
Overton’s journey to a runnerup finish wasn’t exactly a direct route. He dropped back earlier in the show and rebounded, and did so again after Nosbisch passed him for second place on the 30th circuit. After back-pedaling to sixth place while the surging Nosbisch zeroed his sights on Herrington’s rear deck, Overton battled back into contention.

Sizing up the situation as the laps wound down and with the rebounding Overton once again directly behind him holding down third, Nosbisch made the winning pass on the outside rather quickly when he decided to make the move, leaving a disappointed Herrington in his wake.

The Hawkinsville, Ga., youngster, who claimed the Newsome Raceway Parts-sponsored Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model Series championship in 2020, settled for the runnerup spot after pacing 37 laps, having taken the point from early leader and fastest qualifier Trey Bayne on the third circuit.

“I heard him [Nosbisch] out there, but it was too late,” Herrington said. “I probably should have moved up the racetrack a little earlier, and I had been looking during the yellows to see whether I needed to use that groove. I considered it, but you don’t wanna get passed on the bottom either. You’re danged if you do, and danged if you don’t. I guess I didn’t think the track would widen out that much, but I’ve got only a few starts here in my career, and he’s raced here about 50 years.”

Making matters worse for the second-generation driver and son of former competitor Glen Herrington, Overton dropped him back another spot after a strong battle for the position in the closing stages.

“I’m just disgusted, I guess,” Herrington said. “We had a good car, but it just wasn’t our night. When he [Nosbisch] got ready to go, he could go. He had a better car than us today. Once he got past me, I started overdriving the car and let Cory [Overton] get by me that way. It was a really good day race, and I’ll give props to ‘em for that. They worked the track into shape after all that rain, and the track stayed good the whole feature.”

Overton, who bounced forward and back in the field like a pinball, ended up with a second-place finish.

“This a really neat racetrack, but one minute your car is running great and the next minute it feels like you’ve lost the whole race car,” Overton said. “We fell back to 11th in a heat race, and worked all the way back to win it. It’s just that kinda place. We went way back in the feature, too. It kinda made me mad when it happened, and I said, ‘Okay, let’s go.’ We battled back toward the leaders again, but it seemed like our whole night went that way, and we came up one position short.”

Experience Pays Dividends
Nosbisch felt satisfied with his performance on a weekend that pit area accusations swirled about competitors using chemically-altered tires, and he appeared unconcerned when series officials took rubber samples from the winning car during a weekend when many others were also taken by the touring series.

“They can take whatever they want,” Nosbisch said. “We won the race and got our picture took, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s five grand. That won’t even take me to the casino for a night.”

While his attitude appeared to be cavalier to a point, the official results of the race are unofficial until results are cleared by the lab. Nosbisch chalked up his victory to many laps turned at the facility.

“Experience from racing here all these years is probably what made a big difference today,” Nosbisch said. “I hate we had to race during the day because of the rain last night, but I knew what the racetrack was gonna do, and we were ready for it. We were gonna run the bottom because the track started out a little bit sloppy, but it eventually gave up down there, and I moved up a little bit on the first restart, and I knew then we had a good car.”

Moving forward from the seventh row, Nosbisch ran third for many laps but finally slipped past Overton near the lap-30 mark, and then caught Herrington in the latter stages. He readied for what turned out to be the final maneuver, pointed his car to the top and rolled around Herrington, which sealed his eventual victory.

“It was rough getting through the pack from where we started,” Nosbish said. “We finally got the car to stick better, and had passed a few cars by the time the first yellow appeared, and then late in the race we finally got past [Cody] Overton,” Nosbisch said. “When we got to [Wil] Herrington, I knew what I was gonna need to do to pass him, and I was a little surprised he didn’t move up a little bit. We got a good run on him, and we’ve got a lot of laps here, and sometimes that helps.”

Sponsors and Schedules
Nosbisch’s Rocket XR1 had a motor from Hendren Racing Engines under the hood. Sponsors included Adam’s Used Auto Parts, The Car Store, Image Skincare, Deland Truck Center, Danny Cropper Bodies, Genesis Racing Shocks, and Topknotch Custom Graphics.

The final event of the Winter Shootout Series will be held March 5 at Clarksville (Tenn.) Speedway during the traditional Tuckassee Toilet Bowl Classic weekend, and pay $3,000 to the winner. Cory Hedgecock will carry a 36-point edge over Jason Welshan [416-380] into the weekend, while the rest of the top five include Jody Knowles [370], Nevin Gainey [320] and Jamie Burford [302].

After the conclusion of the Winter Shootout Series, attention will turn to the opening event of the Newsome Raceway Parts-sponsored Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model Series, which will open a 22-race season April 8-9 with the traditional Rumble on the Gumbo at high-banked Greenville (Miss.) Speedway.

Florida Winternationals (Night Three): 1. Keith Nosbisch, 2. Cody Overton, 3. Wil Herrington, 4. Garrett Mosley, 5. Logan Roberson, 6. David Markham Jr., 7. Rodney Wing, 8. Kyle Hardy, 9. Trey Bayne, 10. Tyler Bare, 11. Brian Smith, 12. Travis Varnadore, 13. Matt Herlong, 14. Jason Welshan, 15. Jody Knowles, 16. Cory Hedgecock, 17. Shan Smith, 18. Mack McCarter, 19. Dillon Brown, 20. Josh Peacock, 21. Tyler Neal, 22. Jamie Burford, 23. Walker Arthur, 24. Austin Yarbrough, 25. Blake Creech, 26. Nevin Gainey, 27. Jimmy Elliott.
Did not start - David Showers Jr.

Winter Shootout Series (current points): 1. Cory Hedgecock, 416 points; 2. Jason Welshan, 380; 3. Jody Knowles, 370; 4. Nevin Gainey, 320; 5. Jamie Burford, 302; 6. Garrett Mosley, 282; 7. Wil Herrington, 280; 8. Rodney Wing, 260; 9. Rodgerick Dykes, 252; 10. Travis Varnadore, 246; 11. Logan Roberson, 238; 12. (tie) Kyle Hardy and Cody Overton, 232; 14. Keith Nosbisch and T.J. Brittain, 230; 16. Trey Bayne, 216; 17. Jeremy Steele, 208; 18. Austin Yarbrough, 202; 19. Brian Smith, 196; 20. Shan Smith and Dillon Brown, 192.

Entries: 72
Boyd-Bilt Fabrication Fast Qualifier: Trey Bayne, 15.578 seconds
Lap leaders: Trey Bayne, 1-2; Wil Herrington 3-39, Keith Nosbisch 40-50.
Cautions: 8
KRC Power Steering Heat winners: Cody Overton, Trey Bayne, David Markham Jr., Wil Herrington, Kyle Hardy, Shan Smith.
KRC Power Steering B-main winners: Garrett Mosley, Nevin Gainey, JC Wilson.


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