BLOUNT GETS UN-DOMINATING DOMINANT WIN AT KENTUCKY presented by Advance Auto Parts
Now Has Four ARCA Wins After Holding Off Erin Crocker by Jeremy Troiano
It might sound like an oxymoron, but the best way to describe Chad Blount’s race on Friday night at Kentucky Speedway with the ARCA Re/Max Series would be an un-dominating dominating performance.
Look at the final stats from Friday night and it will look like Blount ran away with the race. The veteran led 95 of the race’s 100 laps after starting from the outside pole and only lost the lead when he came out of the pits second to the night’s pole sitter, Erin Crocker, during a round of pit stops in the second half of the event.
Chad Blount (#67) and Erin Crocker (#98) raced together much of the night, but the start of the race (top, 51 Photo) was as close as Crocker would get, as she trailed him coming to the end (bottom, High Sierra Photo)
But that is why the final results rarely tell the story of an event.
Blount may have led 95 laps, dominating the top spot, but he was far from dominant during the overall event. That’s because from the drop of the green flag until the waving the checked flag, Blount was never able to pull away from his nearest competitors.
At the start of the race, Crocker’s #98 was never more than a few car lengths behind Blount’s #67. When Crocker came in for an early pit stop, Joey Miller’s #9 took over the second spot and was always able to keep within sticking distance of Blount’s ride. In fact, while the leader negotiated lapped traffic, there were moments where Miller found himself right on Blount’s bumper.
But sticking with the race leader and passing the race leader are two different things. And that is something that Crocker, Miller or none of the other drivers in the field were able to do on Friday night.
“This is a great win for me and for this team,” said Blount. “We’re really coming together and it is showing after winning last weekend in Kansas.”
Blount stretched it as far as he could had banked on getting a caution for someone else running out of gas and got that caution as TJ Bell spun on lap 67. Blount was able to come in and get service, as did some of the other cars that pitted earlier in the race during an earlier caution, including Evernham development driver Crocker.
"I was getting a little worried (about fuel), but the guys kept saying, ‘you're fine, you're fine,’” said Blount. “We get really good fuel mileage. We just knew that it would be a matter of time before somebody would run out in front of us and force a caution. Thankfully, we were able to catch a caution, but who would have figured that we'd go green that long.”
Blount was able to come into the pits under caution, where most of the front runners had to pit under green. (High Sierra Photo)
Crocker beat Blount out of the pits by the slimmest of margins and took the lead away from Blount for the first time, but it wouldn’t last long. Just one lap after the green flag restarted the race, Blount moved his way back to the front of the field. However, Blount and Crocker found themselves in the middle of the pack, with Miller, Ragan and others starting at the front of the pack after pitting under green.
A quick caution allowed those drivers to get back on the lead lap and put Crocker right back on Blount’s bumper.
“When you are back there with a bunch of cars around you, you don't have a whole lot of time because clean air is so important because theses cars are so aero dependent,” added Blount. “You wanna keep the air on the left front. I knew that we were going to have to get out there on the restart and get back out front with the clean air to have a chance. It was just a gamble that we had to take."
“Earlier in the race, lapped traffic was tough on us. At the end, they did a good job of staying out of the way. We did what we had to do to win.”
For Blount, it was his second-straight win and a series-leading fourth win overall. However, it wasn’t without its late-race challenges.
Blount and the ML Motorsprots team was able to stay out front during an uncharacteristically long green flag stretch when several other front runners, including Miller, David Ragan, Chad McCumbee and Danny O’Quinn, had to stop under green-flag conditions to keep from running out of fuel.
Blount was able to do the burnouts at the end of the day. (High Sierra Photo)
Crocker stayed right on Blount’s bumper during the final restart of the race and pulled within a few car lengths with just a few laps remaining, but she had nothing for the #67 at the checkers.
"I knew that if we kept our momentum up and kept it (the car) on the bottom (of the track), we would be able to hold her (Crocker) off,” said Blount. “We just got real, real tight and actually that last stop, we freed the car up and about 10 laps into that last run, we got so tight that it was just sliding the front tires.
“This is a pretty sweet win though."
Crocker’s second-place finish matched the highest finish by a female driver in series history. Shawna Robinson earned a second place finish at Daytona in 2001.
"We definitely felt that we had something for him (Chad) at the end of the race,” said Crocker. “I started sliding the nose out a bit and couldn't keep up.
“The nose slid bad off four and we got real tight. But we were up on everyone's fuel strategy and I thought I had him boxed in with lap traffic. Chad is an excellent driver. I just couldn't get around him.
“Those last 10 laps, I tried to get a run but it seemed like there was a lapped car at every turn. Maybe, if I had a little more experience, I might have found a way around him.
“We would have liked to win, but I'm happy with the finish. I still have a lot to learn.”
Miller was able to get his lap back and come home with a strong third-place finish.
“With 10-15 laps to go we were 10th and started to charge up the field,” said Miller. “It was just kind of a night with highs and lows. Luckily at the end, it was a high and we finished third. We gained a few points and had a pretty decent night.”
Blount hit Victory Lane for the fourth time this season. (High Sierra Photo)
Frank Kimmel battled back from an early-race pit stop that put him well back in the field to finish fourth, followed by Justin Allgaier in fifth.