SWAMP BUGGIES: Greenling takes time trials at Spring Classic

Saturday's Jeep final was a close one won by Steve Armstrong's Evil & Wicked, left, over Sean Gould's War Jeep. Gould tried to go wide exiting the final turn but could not catch Armstrong. Tom Rife

Photo by TOM RIFE/Special to the Daily News

Saturday's Jeep final was a close one won by Steve Armstrong's Evil & Wicked, left, over Sean Gould's War Jeep. Gould tried to go wide exiting the final turn but could not catch Armstrong. Tom Rife

SUNDAY

What: Spring Classic swamp buggy races

Where: Florida Sports Park (intersection of Collier Boulevard and Rattlesnake Hammock Road)

Sunday: Points racing begins at 12:30 p.m.

Tickets: Adult tickets are $20 at the track

Parking: On-site parking is free

— If Dan Greenling played poker the way he drives swamp buggies, he’d be in deep, deep trouble.

It’s because the anything-but-coy driver isn’t afraid to show his hand. Consider the fact that in 19 of his last 20 attempts, Greenling has won the Pro Modified Challenge time trials at the Florida Sports Park. Ironically, it was only on his unlucky 13th attempt that he failed to be the fastest Pro Modified entry when racing against the clock on Saturday.

In preparation for Sunday’s season-ending Spring Classic at the Mile-O-Mud, Greenling put down a lap of 54.16 seconds to claim the first-place purse of $1,000. Greenling was pushed by fellow competitor Tyler Johns, whose second-best time was 54.78 seconds.

Saturday’s dirty work set the stage for Sunday’s Budweiser Cup Series points finale at 12:30 p.m. The front-runner is eight-time champ Eddie Chesser, whose buggy called The Rapture has amassed 20 points through competitions in October and January. Chesser finished second to Greenling in the Fall Classic Big Feature, and second to Johns in the Winter Classic Big Feature. Greenling has 15 points and Johns has 13.

Chesser did not really show his hand in Saturday’s time trials, electing to run a practice lap and head for home early.

“I have to know what I’ve got,” Greenling said of his hold-nothing-back approach. “Tyler’s right up there with me, so I need to know what work needs to be done to make the buggy faster. We’ve got some things to figure out.”

Greenling’s time Saturday was about two seconds slower than in January, and he said he had some handling issues. His line through the southernmost right-hand turn was noticeably wider than he normally runs.

“I missed it,” he admitted, adding that his buggy had “something dragging” and he needed to check out his buggy thoroughly prior to going to the line Sunday.

Greenling knows what claiming his second Budweiser Cup Series title will take. Chesser will have to have some bad luck not to claim his ninth championship.

All three drivers will get their three bonus points for driving in all three events this season. A Pro Modified class win is worth three points and a berth in the Big Feature. The winner of the Big Feature will earn 10 more points and the runner-up 7, which will make it hard for Greenling or Johns to catch Chesser if he wins his Pro Modified 4-wheel-drive class. Greenling and Johns race against one another -- and several other fast machines -- in the Pro Modified 2-wheel-drive division.

Saturday’s show also included a V8 Sportsman Challenge. Wayne Harris’ Southern Thunder, Greenling’s “teammate” in the fabrication shop, was tops at 1:04.34. Second was Lorrie Johns’ Lady Liberty at 1:06.94. She had to get out of the throttle briefly on her lap to avoid crashing in the right-hander around the south island of the oval-eight course.

Steve Armstrong’s Evil & Wicked won Saturday’s Jeep final over Sean Gould’s War Jeep and Marc Birkenmeyer’s Kryptonite. In the Air-Cooled final, Gene Johnson drove Puddle Jumper to victory over John Parks’ Sidewinder and Kat Conrad’s Rebel Attitude.

Johnson’s machine sported a new lime-green paint job that gave the buggy a frog-like appearance as it negotiated the tricky track.

Sunday’s program is expected to last about four hours, and will conclude with the traditional Queen’s Mudbath.

Tickets are available at the track, and there is ample free parking on-site. The Florida Sports Park entrance is on Collier Boulevard east of Naples, about three miles south of I-75 Exit 101.

Past champions in the Budweiser Cup Series swamp buggy points competition:

1991 – David Sims, Shagnasty

1992 – Terry Langford, Rubber Duck

1993 – Roy Ortega, Terminator

1994 – David Sims, Shagnasty

1995 – Eddie Chesser, The Outlaw

1996 – Eddie Chesser, The Outlaw

1997 – Eddie Chesser, The Outlaw

1998 – Eddie Chesser, The Outlaw

1999 – Eddie Chesser, The Outlaw

2000 – Eddie Chesser, The Outlaw

2001 – Donnie Cooper, Tractor Traction

2002 – William Thornton, Cold Duck

2003 – Leonard Chesser, Dats Da One

2004 – Eddie Chesser, Hi-Tech Redneck

2005 – Bonnie Walsh, Fatal Attraction

2006 – Terry Walsh, For Sale

2007 – William Thornton, Cold Duck

2008 – Dan Greenling, Roll On

2009 – William Thornton, Cold Duck

2010 – Eddie Chesser, The Rapture

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Links

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features