EAST MANATEE -- D.J. Hoelzle withstood a frantic last-lap challenge from Travis Roland to win Saturday night's action-packed 75-lap J.D. Byrider Open Wheel Shootout at Desoto Speedway.
Outside pole-sitter Cody Stickler grabbed the lead on the start and led the first several laps with Josh Todd and pole-sitter Jesse Dutilly directly on his tail. Todd inched by Stickler for the lead just before a spin by Devon McCleod and Wayne Jefferson.
Todd began pulling away from Stickler, Doug Moff, Dutilly and Hoelzle on the restart. As Todd opened up nearly a straightaway-length lead, the battle between Stickler, Dutilly, Hoelzle, Travis Roland and Palmetto's Nick Hernandez, who started deep in the field, for second through sixth intensified around the track.
The caution flew again on Lap 27 for Jerry Cutting's spin. On the restart, Todd got loose and went nearly head-on into the wall after slight contact with Stickler. Race officials ruled that Stickler wasn't at fault for the accident that ended Todd's night just prior to the halfway point of the race.
Stickler and Dutilly battled side by side for the lead after the restart, with Dutilly ultimately getting the advantage on Lap 34. A caution for a spin on Lap 36 allowed Dutilly to collect the $250 bonus from Larson and Son Landscape, Gunn Welding and Fabrication and Z-Sharp for leading the race at the halfway point.
Hoelzle, who pocketed a $500 bonus from FDS Disposal for setting fast time during qualifying, grabbed the lead from Dutilly on a Lap 39 restart and quickly opened up a large gap over Dutilly and Roland. He had a two-second lead over Dutilly when the yellow came out for Timmy Moore's spin in Turn 3 on Lap 48.
Roland got by Dutilly for second before a multi-car spin involving Hernandez and others slowed the field again with 20 laps to go. Roland got the jump from the inside lane and grabbed the lead with 12 laps left and held a two car-length lead when Dalton Nelson's spin brought out the caution on lap 68.
Roland appeared to spin his tires on the restart, handing the lead back to Hoelzle. Roland quickly reeled Hoelzle back in and made one last attempt to grab the lead coming out of Turn 4, but he came up about a five feet short of taking the checkers.
"I used the wall four or five times on the straightaway to try and hold him off," Hoelzle said.
Roland, said he felt like he ran over some debris on the final restart.
"I felt like I gave it away on that last restart," Roland said. "I wasn't real good on the top of the track, and D.J. had it figured out on the bottom. He did what he had to do and I love racing against him. It was a heck of a show."
Stickler, L.J. Grimm and Moff rounded out the top five. Kyle Bookmiller claimed the $300 Miller Insulation Hard Charger award, finishing 10th after starting shotgun in the 26-car field.
The Joey Coulter Florida Pro Truck series was next with a 75-lap event to finish their season. Cody McDuffie gained the advantage on the start and would lead the first 40 laps of the race. Championship contender Steve Darvalics, who came into the event tied with Becca Monopoli for the series points lead, moved to second around 20 laps into race.
McDuffie appeared to slow going down the back stretch on Lap 41. Darvalics couldn't avoid McDuffie's slowing truck and caused McDuffie to spin into the infield and bring out the yellow. McDuffie was done for the night with a mechanical failure.
Darvalics assumed the lead on the restart with Hernandez directly in tow. Hernandez dived low in Turn 1 on Lap 51 to take the lead.
On a late restart, Darvalics and Hernandez got together racing for the lead, sending both cars into a spin and knocking Hernandez out of the race. Darvalics was sent to the rear of the field as a result of the contact.
Monopoli inherited the lead as a result. She and Brent Huber staged a fierce battle for the lead over the closing laps, but she held off Huber to take both the win and the series' inaugural championship.
In other action Saturday night, Jimmie Best won the 25-lap LKQ Pick Your Part Pure Stock feature; Jimmy Best won the Rookie 4 feature; and Cameron Cruse won the Mini Stock feature.
The Turner Tree and Landscape Super Late Models highlight next Saturday night's racing at Desoto Speedway. Sportsmen, Pure Stocks, Street Stocks and Modified Minis will all finish their season. School bus and Pro Figure 8s round out the racing action.