“Maybe I only had a third- or fourth-place car. Eddie was really good, so was Scott. Ryan was better than we were too.
“We had a great race. Ryan was better, but I was trying to keep him behind me. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and he finally got around me. That was a lot of fun. That is how you like to race.”
Ken McFarland came home third, with Carlson coming back to fourth and JR Norris, driving Richie Wauters’ famous #5, finished fifth. Mercer eventually ended up 10th.
BLIZZARD RACE #4
Five Flags Speedway, Pensacola, FL
2.Dave Mader III
13.T. Wade Welch
25.Gary Sanford Jr.
27.Brian Scott (DNS)
CRANE FINALLY BREAKS THROUGH AT BLIZZARD By Jeremy Troiano
Action Wild Again, But Tempers Stay In Check At Five Flags
The last time that the Blizzard Series ran at Five Flags Speedway, things resembled more of a Ultimate Fighting Championship and World Wrestling Federation pay-per-view event than a race, with fists flying in both Victroy Lane and in the tech area.
On Friday night, the action was just as hot on the track. In fact, with just about 30 laps to go in the Miller Lite 100, the second-place car spun out the first-place car. A penalty was issued and the third- and fourth-place cars were now up front. Then, there was a lot of beating and banging between those two for the lead.
However, when everything was said and done, everyone left Pensacola smiling… or at least without throwing any punches or any screaming.
And Ryan Crane was smiling the most.
Crane, who has been trying to win a Blizzard Series race for the last three years, finally broke through on Friday night. Crane came back from a bad pit stop and felt the fortune of contact between the leaders to pass Blizzard Series points leader Dave Mader III with seven laps to go to win his first-career Blizzard Series event.
“I’ve had so many troubles here in the past,” said Crane, who won his first event since winning the prestigious Rattler at South Alabama Speedway earlier in the year. “I’ve been trying to run this
Just handshakes this time... Dave Mader, III congratulates Ryan Crane (right) on his Blizzard win. (51 Photos)
Blizzard series for three years now and I have not won a race here yet. I’ve got countless laps here and have led laps, so to finally be able to win here and beat the cars we beat makes it all even better.”
Crane, who started second, took the lead from fan-favorite and fast qualifier Eddie Mercer on lap 15. Crane then lost the lead to Scott Carlson on lap 40, as the three best cars started fighting for the top spot.
On lap 48, the leaders came to the pits for fresh right-side tires. Carlson got out first, followed by Mercer. Combined with two cars that stayed on the track, Crane restarted the event eighth. That looked to ruin his shot, especially with Mercer and Carlson up front.
It didn’t take long for Carlson and Mercer to get back into the first and second spots. But Crane was coming. He moved into sixth, then fifth and then fourth, behind the top two and Mader.
Then, on lap 67, Mercer got into the back of Carlson, turning the leader around. Blizzard Series officials deemed the contact avoidable and penalized Mercer, putting him to the back of the pack. With the way the Blizzard Series has gone this year, people were on the edge of their seats to see if anything would happen under caution or post-race between the two friends and Pensacola-natives.
In a turn of events though, the two drivers talked and
Mercer apologized for his actions, leaving in handshakes instead of handcuffs.
“Scott beat us out on the pit stop,” said Mercer. “That put me behind a little bit. His car looked tight in the center and I was rolling to him pretty quick. He got down a little hot into the corner and had to let out and I just barely touched him. I don’t have a scratch on my car and he doesn’t have a scratch on his car; it’s just right in the center of the corner. You can slap a car with your hand and spin them out there. I touched him, but by no means did I drill him or anything. Once I touched him though, there was nothing I could do. I’m sure he’s upset and I hate it. I didn’t mean that to happen.”
After the spin, Carlson was able to make his way back up through the field and finished fourth. And while Carlson wished the contact hadn’t happened, he knew it wasn’t intentional, making it forgivable.
“I had high expectations for this new car and they all came through,” said Carlson. “We just ran into a little bad luck down there in turn one. (Eddie) just came down and apologized after the race. It’s unfortunate, but I know he didn’t do it on purpose. Its just one of those racing deals where madder was hard on him and he was just trying to keep madder off of him. I wasn’t really getting in there any different than I was any other lap. Me and Eddie are local boys here and both live around here. I accept his apology and we’ll go on to the next race.”
That contact between the leaders put Mader and Crane into first and second and set up a beautiful battle. Crane had a faster car, but Mader kept his car on the bottom and up front. In fact, on one lap, Crane and jumped to the inside of Mader heading down to turn one. Mader drove it deep and where many drivers could have stayed in it, Crane let off and tucked back into second.
But with seven laps to go, Mader finally slipped and Crane took advantage. He took the lead and went on to win the event.
“The battle with Dave Mader was great,” said Crane. “I love racing him. I didn’t want to spin him out. I kept pressuring him and kept pressuring him and finally he slipped up. That is what I was waiting for. I’m telling you, that was the most fun I’ve had behind the wheel in a long time. I had a blast.
“We lost some spots on our pit stop and came out around 10th or so, which was tough on us. We were able to come back to the front pretty quick though. The car was really, really good.
Crane in Five Flags Victory Lane
“I really didn’t know the car was going to be that good. Me and (part-time team consultant) Mike Garvey have been on the phone a lot talking. He wasn’t able to be here with me this weekend, but I was actually on the phone with him right before the race getting tips from him. I’ll tell you what, it means a lot to have someone knowledgeable there to support you and help you out.”
Mader knew he didn’t have the car to win and enjoyed the battle.
“I had a second-place car tonight,” said Mader, who won the last Blizzard Series event a couple of months ago.
Scott Carlson might have had the best car in the field, but he came home just fourth.