Commentary | Big opening night at Full Throttle Speedway in East Manatee

May 7, 2013 

The remodeled and renamed Full Throttle Speedway had its Grand Opening on Saturday night with fans packing the track from turn four down to the front straight and to turn one.

And the fans witnessed some solid racing in several events.

David Steele won the TBARA Wing Sprints.

Sarasota's Derek Lucas (Street Stock), Bradenton's Bob Vigilio (Road Warriors), Arcadia's John Pummel Jr. (Cowboy Cadillacs), Bradenton's Randy Johnson (Pro Four), Myakka City's Sherry Best (Rookie Four), Punta Gorda's Mike Belusar (T.Q. Midgets) and Lakeland's Dakota Baggett (Legends) won the other race divisions Saturday at the former DeSoto Speedway.

Other county drivers to log top three finishes were Bradenton's Jeff Dufresne (Street Stock, third place) and Bradenton's Ronnie Robinson (Pro Four, third place).

The track is located nine miles east of I-75 at 21000A State Road 64 East, and opens its front gates at 4:30 p.m. weekly. This Saturday night's schedule features Open Wheel Modified, Late Model Sportsman, Pro Truck, Rookie Truck, Pro/Rookie Four and Cowboy Cadillac division races.

Tickets are $13 for

adults, $11 for seniors and children ages 12-and-younger are admitted free with an adult.

Gladiators stay alive

The Bradenton Gladiators are one win away from a repeat trip to the Alliance Bowl after they edged the Daytona Beach Wildcats 14-11 in last Saturday's NFC Conference Divisional playoff game.

The Gladiators (8-2 record before playoffs) had to travel to the No. 2-seeded Wildcats despite having a better regular season record than Daytona Beach (6-3-1 prior to the playoffs).

Now they're off to Orlando this week to take on the Rage, which has beaten Bradenton twice this season in securing the top seed for the postseason in the NFC as well as the Central Division title.

The winner moves on to the 2013 Florida Football Alliance Bowl in Miami on May 25.

Travel team prepares

The 941 Florida Outlaws are a new elite showcase baseball team comprising players from Manatee, Bayshore, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton Christian high schools as well as high schools in Sarasota County and the Fort Myers area. Head coach Jerry Paparella is joined by Rob Darnell (Manatee Babe Ruth president), Rich Glass (Palmetto High assistant coach) and Miguel Bonilla (Pittsburgh Pirates organization coach) lead a group of 24 players with designs on playing in Perfect Game and other elite level tournaments around the country.

The schedule includes Elite College Showcase tourneys in St. Petersburg, Fort Myers, Ashville, N.C., Baton Rouge, La., and Cincinnati with the intention of getting players noticed and signed with college programs upon completing their prep careers.

Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017 or via email at Follow him on Twitter @Jason_Dill

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