HOFFMAN DOMINATES ASA LM CHALLENGE OPENER By Matt Kentfield & Jeremy Troiano
Miller and Ryan Tangle Clearing Smooth Path for Winner
Growing up in Minnesota, Jake Ryan was a huge Butch Miller fan. Ryan lists Miller as one of his racing heroes, so racing alongside the 3-time ASA National Series Champion on Saturday night in the ASA Late Model Challenge Series season opener was a thrill for the youngster. When Ryan and Miller tangled while racing for second late in the race, however, both drivers lost their chance at catching Eddie Hoffman at Music City Motorplex (TN) on Saturday night.
Hoffman checked out on the field in the final 12 laps after the restart from the Miller-Ryan incident to capture the win. It was a dominating performance for Hoffman, as the Illinois native took the lead on lap 11 and never looked back. If he did look back, he would’ve seen his two toughest competitors’ chances end with a late-race incident. Hoffman wasn’t worried about that, however. He was too focused on chasing the checkers.
Miller made a move underneath Ryan coming off the second corner and the two collided. Miller was done for the night, while Ryan continued on to finish sixth but was still disappointed with the contact with one of his racing heroes.
“I used to watch Butch Miller race at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in ASA and I know he’s not that kind of guy,” said Ryan. “I really look up to him. It’s awesome racing with him door-to-door. I’ve got donuts on my door from him and it was good racing. But these cars are so equal that when you get an inch, you take a mile. That’s what happened. I hate it for both of us, we both could’ve finished in the top three, but it wasn’t meant to be tonight.”
Miller wasn’t quite so calm about the contact.
Eddie Hoffman and his team celebrate with their new guitar in Victory Lane. (James MacDonald photo)
“The #19 (Ryan) car wanted my racetrack, too,” said a frustrated Miller. “There wasn’t much else I could do about it. He just used me up. There isn’t much else I can say about it. We had a great car and we might have had something for Eddie (Hoffman) if we were able to get up there. That is all I’m really going to say about it.”
While both Miller and Ryan placed blame on one another after their crash, Hoffman was pulling away from the new second-place runner Brian Campbell over the final laps. Hoffman led all but the first 10 laps of the 200-lap ASA LM season opener and was perfectly happy watching all the carnage behind him.
“Those guys were racing pretty hard back there,” said Hoffman. “I’m glad it all happened behind me, that’s for sure.”
Butch Miller looks over the damage to his #52 after a late accident took him out of contention for the win. (51 Photo)
“Everyone keeps saying we were dominant, but I’m not so sure about that,” said Hoffman. “We definitely had a good car, but I think my car was just barely good enough or barely better than anyone else’s tonight.
“We had excellent track position. When you’ve got as good a car as anyone else and you’re up front, it becomes your race to lose. Luckily we didn’t lose it tonight.”
If Butch Miller had his way, it wouldn’t have been Hoffman celebrating in Victory Lane. If there was anyone who looked to be Hoffman’s stiffest threat, it was Miller. Using the high line, Miller worked his way up from his 11th-place starting spot all the way to third and was racing with Ryan for second on lap 183 when the two cars got together.
About all that stood in Hoffman’s way to certain victory Saturday night was the constant zig-zagging that he had to do to get around the lapped traffic. Several long green-flag runs strung the field out, forcing Hoffman to do some maneuvering around the slower traffic.
“There were a lot of young guys out there and some guys that weren’t really sure what they were doing, but overall I was pretty happy that everyone knew how to get out of the way. There were a few guys that made it a little interesting, but you’re going to have that in a series like this. There’s a great mix of young and old in this series and I had a lot of fun out there tonight.”
Brian Campbell wasn’t able to close to Hoffman’s back bumper in the final laps and had to settle for second. Second place is nothing new for Campbell, as the Michigan native finished second in 2005 ASA Late Model points as well as finishing second on six different occasions last season.
“Always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” said Campbell. “It never gets old to finish second, even though I do it enough. What are you going to do? You are racing with guys like Butch Miller and Eddie Hoffman. Eddie is a show himself. I leaned quite a bit watching Eddie run and following him. It is fun. We need to win a race
Hoffman's #8 was the best in class Saturday night. (Bob Milner photo)
because second is getting old. I really wanted to win that guitar that they give the winner here.”
Campbell will have to wait for his guitar, as will Jake Ryan and the rest of the ASA Late Model Challenge Series field. It’s Hoffman that will be playing sweet music until the next Nashville race.