Local Veterans Show The Way in Elmer Musgrave Memorial
Weltmeyer Comes Out on Top in CRA Super Series Show at Illiana
Veteran local racers showed the way in Saturday nights 6th Annual Elmer Musgrave Memorial Presented By Texas Corral, CRA Super Series event at Illiana Motor Speedway. Multi-time Track Champion Dave Weltmeyer steadily worked his way through the field from his 12th place starting position to grab the lead from rival Chicagoland veteran Eddie Hoffman on lap 92 and cruised to a very popular victory, his first ever CRA Super Series victory in his first race of the 2007 season.
Weltmeyer in victory lane at Illiana. (Ron Harner Photos)
Rookie John VanDoorn (#16) had a strong run at Illiana.
Hoffman, who has won two previous Elmer Musgrave Memorials, along with numerous other victories at Illiana, finished in third driving for 2005 CRA Super Series Car Owner Champion Tom Kmak. Gabehart held on to finish in fourth after looking like he would run away with the win early in the event. Gabehart passed early leader Mike White on lap 4 and held off first Scott Hantz and later Hoffman to keep the lead until Hoffman finally got by on lap 82. Gabehart increased his points lead over Hantz, after Hantz’s handling went away resulting in a 14th place finish.
Series leading rookie competitor John VanDoorn continued his recent streak of strong runs getting a fifth place finish and earning his 8th straight RV Performance Rookie Of The Race Award. VanDoorn came from 10th place to get his top five finish, but didn’t gain any points on Gabehart. Former Illiana Champion Mike White held on to finish in sixth, local race Joe O’Connor was seventh, series veteran Jeff Lane was eighth, Jason Dietsch finished in ninth after charging back through the field after pitting early for set-up adjustments. Dietsch’s great passes through the field earned him the Sweet Move Of The Race Award. Terry Fisher Jr. finished in tenth, the last car on the lead lap.
Gabehart was the winner of the RaceTrailerSales.com Halfway Leader Award. Dietsch was the ISKY Racing Cams / Lane Automotive Hardcharger Award winner, gaining 15 positions in the event. He was also awarded a Hoosier Tire Performance Award, as was Larry Schuler. Jason Shively was the Leaf Racewear Hard Luck Award winner after a hard impact with the outside retaining wall ended his night on lap 4.
The next CRA Super Series event will be the Winchester 100 Presented By McGunegill Engine Performance on Monday, September 3 with the Maple-Tarr Chrysler Dodge Jeep Labor Day Weekend Stock Car Festival at Winchester Speedway, a tune-up event for the prestigious Winchester 400 on October 14th.
“We had a good strategy, you always have a plan, and today ours worked," Weltmeyer stated in victory lane. "I just waited on the race to come to me, I could have moved up sooner, but if I did I would not have had anything left to pass them. I don't think I got that much faster, they just got slower."
The cagey veteran was able to keep his car on the bottom to make his passes to the front including his winning pass on Hoffman who had managed to wrestle the lead away from series point’s leader and Appleton Rack & Pinion Fast Qualifier Chris Gabehart on lap 82. Hoffman worked for several laps to get by Gabehart to get the lead, but may have used up too much of his car and couldn’t hold off Weltmeyer’s charge to the front.
Another Chicagoland veteran Larry Schuler made a late charge through the field from his 15th place starting position to pass Hoffman on the white flag lap to get second. Schuler, another former Illiana Track Champion, also waited for the competition to slow down before making his charge to the front, it was also his first race of the 2007 season as he has been working with his car owner’s son Ricky Baker this season. Weltmeyer semi retired after last season, and has been working full-time with ASA Late Model Series competitor Michael Arnett’s team this season.