Those fans who might have left the stands a little early at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway on Saturday night missed something special.
Thankfully, this was Oktoberfest. And no one leaves their seats early.
Veteran racer Eddie Hoffman had a fast car. Everyone knew it. He was the night’s fastest qualifier and wasted little time moving to the front of the field from his eighth-place starting spot following the eight-car inversion. In fact, by lap eight, Hoffman was already third. By lap 15, he was already on the back bumper of leader Trent Snyder. On lap 36, Hoffman was in the lead.
“I didn’t get a great restart on Eddie and hadn’t been getting great restarts all night,” said Cassill of a final restart with four laps to go. “That is just part of experience. He’d been snookering me on restarts all night. It ended up I was laying back on the restart and I was able to gain some momentum on him, which I think really helped me. I tried to go to the outside, but towards the end of the race, the outside went away.
“Coming to the white flag, I went to the outside and just cut it down inside of him. I made the straightaway 20 car lengths longer than him and that is what it took. My car was wound up by the time his car was getting wound up. That is how we drove by him. The, I buried it down into turn one harder than I ever should have and had to get on the brakes hard to keep him behind me.”
And Cassill celebrated the race in typical Landon Cassill-fashion… by climbing the fence on the frontstretch to celebrate in front of the roaring Oktoberfest fans.
Eddie Hoffman was fast at Oktoberfest. (51 Photos)
“It was a wild race. It happened perfect. We didn’t have a super fast car until I got into the 85 and knocked the toe out. It came on from there.”
Yeah… Cassill actually got faster with less than 10 to go, when he got into the side of Snyder while racing for second.
“That is not something you always want to do to make your car better,” joked Cassill. “I drove it up to him and I was up to his door and the car just caught him and it yanked the wheel. It turned the wheel 90-degrees and I was driving sideways until I figured out where I was at. I was able to just drive the car more after that.”
Hoffman, who has visited Victory Lane several time at Oktoberfest, was disappointed, but took the defeat in stride.
“When (my crew) told me he was behind me so early, I knew he had to be super fast because he started back there pretty far,” said early leader Snyder of Hoffman. “He had to go through a lot of traffic and he went through it pretty fast.”
Game over right? Well, not for Landon Cassill.
Cassill didn’t give up. He kept digging. And, coming to the white flag, Cassill was able to do the impossible… challenge Hoffman for the lead. Cassill passed Hoffman for good going into turn one on the last lap to take his fourth ASA Late Model Series win of the 2006 season. And thus far, his most exciting one.
“The car was getting tighter and tighter as the race went on,” said Hoffman. “If I hit the corner just right, I could keep it on the bottom. That last lap, I drove it in there and it just didn’t stay on the bottom. I drove it on off and
before I knew it, Landon was down there. He was pretty much along side me down the frontstretch and there wasn’t much I could do after that. I tried to come back down low. He was just better off the corner. At the end of the race, he had his car just right.
“It’s not too frustrating. We had a fast car, but it just wasn’t right. We could never get that push out in the middle and that is what got worse during the race. It just wasn’t our night tonight.”
So without the caution with four to go, could Hoffman have held off the charging Cassill.
“Woulda, coulda, shoulda. I have no idea if I could have help him off. Doesn’t matter now.”
Snyder was able to hold onto third, with Derek Thorn fourth and Jim Duchow fifth. 17-year-old Jesse Smith,
On Sunday though, it is likely that Cassill is still smiling. And the Saturday night battle has the 17-year-old still thinking of his days in go-kart racing.
“We’ve earned all of our wins. We’ve had ones where we got flat lucky. We’ve had ones where we had a good call. We’ve had ones where we got to the lead and just ran away with it. So, this is defiantly takes me back to the days in the go-karts when we always used to pass them on the last lap.
“This is the way to do it.”
Landon Cassill celebrated his victory by climbing the fence at LaCrosse Speedway.