EAST MANATEE -- In a little more than two years of driving sprint cars, 16-year-old Garrett Green has already achieved the honor of being the youngest driver to win rookie of the year honors at the Little 500, the biggest asphalt sprint car race held in the country held each year in Anderson, Ind.
After Saturday night, Green has something else he can add to his budding racing resume: sprint car winner. He drove like a seasoned veteran in beating some of the state's best sprint car drivers to win the evening's 40-lap main event.
Green started fourth and got by Matt Alfonso for second on Lap 12. The caution flew a lap later for Keith Butler's spin coming out of Turn 4.
On a restart after a debris caution on Lap 17, leader Shane Butler and Green made contact, sending Butler into a spin in front of the rest of the field. Officials sent Butler back to sixth as the last car on the lead lap for bringing out the caution.
Butler needed just two laps to go from sixth to second, getting by both Sport Allen and Alfonso in the same pass to go from fourth to second. As the field came to the stripe to complete the race's halfway point, Butler suddenly slowed coming out of Turn 4, ending his night.
Green and Allen pulled away until the caution flew for the final time for debris with 11 laps to go. Green got the jump on Allen on the final restart and went on for his first ever sprint car win.
"This is unbelievable," Green said. "The tires were going away for sure, and I didn't have much left. I'm not sure how much this means yet, and it hasn't sunk in yet. We finally got it, and we've worked so hard for this."
Allen finished second, with Alfonso rounding out the top three.
The J.D. Byrider Open Wheel Modifieds also were on hand for a 50-lap feature. D.J. Hoelzle took the lead from pole-sitter Josh Todd eight laps into the race. Less than a lap later, Cameron Ray and L.B. Skaggs got together on the front stretch, sending Skaggs hard into the tires inside of Turn 1. Skaggs was uninjured in the crash.
Halfway through the race, Hoelzle and Palmetto's Nick Hernandez were racing for the lead when they got together coming out of Turn 2, collecting several cars in the incident. Hoelzle and Hernandez both were sent to the rear of the field.
Dalton Nelson inherited the lead with 17 laps to go, but Todd needed just two laps to take back the top spot. Several cautions over the closing stages of the race allowed Hoelzle to get back to second place. On the final restart, Hoelzle cleared Todd and led the final two laps to take the win.
Todd finished second, with Cody Stickler, Nelson and Ray rounding out the top five.
In other action Saturday night, Jimmie Best won the 40-lap LKQ Pick Your Part Pure Stock Shootout; Jordan Miller won the Rookie 4 feature; Ronnie Robinson won the Mini Stock feature; and Brandon Morris won the Take Aim Gun Range Sportsmen feature. Robbie Campbell, Sarasota's Rick Sanders, Bradenton's Dale Reigle and Jimmy Miltner won the Daytona Antique Automobile Racing Association features.
Oct. 11 will be Drifting Under the Lights event. Regular racing action returns to Desoto Speedway on Oct. 18. The Safety-Kleen TBARA winged sprint car series headlines the card with its annual Frank Riddle Memorial race.