EAST MANATEE -- For most of Saturday night's J.D. Byrider Open Wheel Modified feature at Desoto Speedway, it looked as if D.J. Hoelzle would lead all 40 laps of the night's main event.
But when the dust settled after a frantic final four laps that saw Hoelzle and other leaders eliminated with mechanical issues and crashes, it was Cody Stickler who found himself sitting in the winner's circle with his third feature win of the year.
Hoelzle started on the pole and quickly began pulling away at the drop of the green flag. Eight laps in, Dalton Nelson and L.J. Grimm got together racing for third place, sending both cars into a spin. Both cars continued, with Grimm keeping the third spot and Nelson being sent to the rear of the 10-car field by race officials.
Palmetto's Nick Hernandez worked his way up through the field and passed Eric Purcell for third on Lap 28. For the next eight laps, Hoelzle, Grimm, Hernandez and Purcell ran nose to tail around the 3/8-mile oval. As the field completed Lap 36, Hoelzle got loose and spun in Turn 1, nearly taking Hernandez into the wall.
Purcell also spun into the infield trying to avoid Hoelzle's car. Hoelzle's night came to an end with an apparent engine failure.
Grimm and Hernandez started on the front row for the double-file restart with four laps to go. Coming into Turn 4 after the restart, Purcell was challenging Hernandez for the second spot. Purcell broke loose and collected Hernandez, sending both cars nearly head-on into the wall. Neither driver was injured in the incident.
Stickler started on the outside of the front row on the final restart and nosed just ahead of Grimm at the end of Lap 37. Stickler would pull away over the final laps and cruise to his third win of the year.
Grimm finished second and extended his points lead over Nelson. Cameron Ray finished third.
Desoto Speedway also hosted the Florida School Bus Figure 8 Championship. Jason Graham started on the pole and led the first few laps. Mike Gamache, winner of the last school bus race at Desoto, grabbed the lead on a restart and appeared to be in control of the event.
At about the halfway point, Gamache was going through the middle of the "X" when he collided with William Hindman at full speed. The violent wreck -- one of the worst accidents in recent times at Desoto -- turned Gamache's bus into a fireball that flipped completely over before coming to a rest.
Hindman had to be cut out of his destroyed bus, while Gamache jumped out of his wrecked bus to the amazement of the capacity crowd.
Graham assumed the lead after the accident and led the rest of the way.
In other action Saturday night, Bradenton's Dennis Wilson held off John Sappraicone Jr. to win the 35-lap Sunbelt Rentals of Fort Myers Street Stock feature; Johnny Marra picked up his first win in the Mini Stock feature; Richard Nelson won the Cowboy Cadillac main event; Michael Cherry won the Pro Figure 8 feature; Clint Snyder won his second consecutive Bomber feature; and Hindman won the demolition derby that took place less than half an hour after the bus accident.
Desoto Speedway will return to racing action on July 12. The Turner Tree and Landscape Super Late Models will headline the night of racing.
On July 5, the speedway will have drifting under the lights. The drifting event starts at 5 p.m. and lasts till midnight.SATURDAY'S RESULTS
Open Wheel Modified
1. 99 Cody Stickler, 2. 25 L. J. Grimm, 3. 9 Camron Ray, 4. 21 Devon Mcleod, 5. 75 Bobby Blake, 6. 94 Dalton Nelson, 7. 45 Joey Logan, 8. 8 D.J. Hoelzle, 9. 37 Nick Hernandez, 10. 51 Eric Purcell.Street Stock1. 42 Dennis Wilson, 2. 51 Johnnie Sapricone, 3. 91 Ander Jackson, 4. 6 James Nanny, 5. 80 Richard Nelson, 6. 64 Dave Bowman, 7. 7 Blaine Baer, 8. 10 Jason Miller, 9. 57 Jim Brenner, 10. 22 James Dellea 3rd.Bombers1. 15 Clint Snyder, 2. 39 Jerry Tetting, 3. 57 Aaron Holmes, 4. 20 Tristan Collins, 5. 22 Ann Marie Ricardi, 6. 75 Carl Thompson.Mini Stock1. 99 Johnny Marra, 2. 84 Ron Sorenson, 3. 05 Ronnie Robinson, 4. 98 Chris Larson, 5. 85 Amy Gamache, 6. 91 Jessica Ostrovskis, 7. 4 Zak Graham, 8. 71 Robert Fellows, 9. 28 Kelly Hahn, 10. 16 Cody Riley, 11. 18 Fred Wilson, 12. 0 Randy Tyler D.N.S.Cowboy Cadillac1. 80 Richard Nelson, 2. 2 Lance Sober, 3. 63 James Wright, 4. 5 Ed Snyder, 5. 6 Kris Bridges, 6. 62 Rudi Jadoul, 7. 32 Shawn Schault.Pro Figure 81. 17 Michael Cherry, 2. 6 Shawn Senokossoff, 3. 9 Bobby Gorden, 4. 01 Shannon Lengell, 5. 48 Denny Harris, 6. 94 Charles Meyer.School Bus1. 4 Jason Graham, 2. 76 James Volk, 3. 32 Jim Erb, 4. 90 Craig Jackson, 5. 8up Terry Lewis, 6. 0 Mike Gamache, 7. 88 Krazy Larry, 8. 89 William Hindman, 9. 47 Brian Donahue, 10. 25 Jeremy Bates, 11. Flag Bus John, 12. 14 Mark Jackson.Demo Derby1. 89 William Hindman, 2. 69 Keith Sammon; 10 cars started the race.