Hoffman Doubles Up With USPRO Victory  By Matt Prieur - ASA Late Model Series PR
Veteran Continues Grundy Country Dominance
Any time Eddie Hoffman walks into the pit area for any race at Grundy County Speedway, his fellow competitors know that they're going to have their hands full if they want to overtake the "King" of the Morris, Illinois speed plant!

The USPRO Cup Series Presented by Drive Train Specialists made their first ever appearance at the 1/3 mile semi-banked paved oval as part of the 10th annual George Appleton Memorial 125 race day. The USPRO teams ran in support of the ASALMS Northern Division with the running of the Illini 50!
Hoffman, widely considered the favorite too win his fourth career Appleton Memorial Feature (He later did) also decided to enter the USPRO Cup Series portion of the day in a Tony D'Ambrose owned and prepared Tech One Race Cars Chevrolet.

D'Ambrose was smiling from ear to ear afterwards as Hoffman delivered the goods by establishing the track record earlier in the afternoon in Qualifying and then scoring the win in his first career USPRO Cup Series appearance!

The Wheaton, Illinois veteran took the lead from pole-sitter, Doug True on Lap 17 and from their, the 48-year-old won his first career USPRO Cup Series Feature in his maiden USPRO start!

"That was a lot of fun!" Exclaimed Hoffman in victory lane. "This is a very good race car, I may have to take some parts off of this one and put them on the Lisa Thomas car for the Appleton. I appreciate Tony for thinking of me enough to drive his equipment
and I'm very happy that we were able to bring his car home in victory lane and get him his first Feature Win!"

The win was also extra special for Hoffman as his Father, the legendary Ed Hoffman Sr., was back behind the wheel for the first time in a number of years as he steered a familiar #8 machine from T.K. Racing for the USPRO Cup Series event at Grundy County! The 71-year-old ran in the Top 10 for most of the race before finishing 11th!

For D'Ambrose, this was indeed his first career Feature win as the Tinley Park, Illinois resident had never won a main event as a driver and is beginning a second career as a car owner in 2008!

"I can't thank Eddie enough for driving my race car and showing everyone here that
these Tech One Race Cars are some fast rides!" An emotional D'Ambrose added.
"Eddie is the man here and he showed everyone here tonight."

Doug True and Ricky Baker in his first USPRO Cup Series start led the 16-car field
to the green flag to begin the Illini 50 and it would be True leading a parade of
machines into the first corner while Baker got off to a slow start allowing several
cars to dive underneath, pushing Baker all the way back to sixth!

As the rest of the field settled in, True pulled out to a comfortable lead as the
Dowagiac, Michigan veteran had nearly a four-second lead over the rest of the field
at one point during the 50-lap Feature.

Drive Train Specialists Fast Qualifier, Eddie Hoffman patiently picked off cars one by
one and soon was in the runner-up spot and set his sights on True! Within a few laps,
Hoffman was on True's back bumper and sizing up the Great Lakes State veteran.

On Lap 18, Hoffman made his move and took over the top spot. Several drivers followed including USPRO Cup Series Points Leader, Dave Gentile Jr., and USPRO Rookie of the Year Points Leader, Tom Gille.

Five laps later, a suddenly ill-handling machine caused True to spin in Turn Two for the first of only two cautions thrown during the 50-lap affair. Two laps after that, outside pole-sitter, Ricky Baker slowed and couldn't make the turn to roll off the track, so the caution flew. Baker broke some front end suspension and was done for the evening.

On what would be the last restart, Dave Gentile Jr., stayed glued to Hoffman's back bumper but Hoffman slowly began pulling away from the USPRO Cup Series Points Leader and was never seriously challenged the rest of the way in winning the Illini 50!

"I learned a little bit out there in this race, I see now there's an outside groove coming in, so maybe it'll be there for me later tonight." Hoffman continued as he referred to the 10th annual George Appleton Memorial 125 later in the night (Which he won). "I need to thank Tony for putting me in the car and if he wants me to drive again, I'd be more than happy too."

Then Hoffman ended with his final comment that is sure to make his fellow USPRO Cup Series drivers cringe; "The USPRO Cup Series sure is a lot of fun, I may have to talk Tom (Car Owner Tom Kmak) into bringing one of our cars out for another USPRO race later this year!" Hoffman smiled!

Gentile Jr., finished second to maintain his points lead and now looks ahead to Toledo Speedway for what is the ½ way point of the 2008 USPRO Schedule as the revamped series is only running a Six (6) race schedule in 2008.

"This was a good run for us, we didn't have anything for Eddie, but no one usually does here!" Gentile Jr., laughed as he gave his post-race interview on the front stretch. "This is a good start for us in the USPRO Cup Series. A first and a second are about the best you can do and with such a short schedule, strong finishes are definitely a premium." He added.

Winnebego, Illinois driver, Tom Gille earned the $500 Gift Certificate from Appleton Rack and Pinions by finishing as the highest rookie in the race in third. "I'm happy with our run, I've never done well here in the past, so this was a nice race for us."

Gille may lose his Rookie Points Lead though as he also indicated that he may not be able to make the trip to Toledo Speedway in Toledo, Ohio. "A sponsor we had lined up backed out on us, so we need some help to get to Toledo, otherwise we're not going to be able to go!" Gille pleaded.

Evanston, Illinois freshman, Sean Murphy finished a career high fourth ahead of Joliet, Illinois rookie, Andy Marchiniak who finished fifth for the second time in two events! Josh Nelms was sixth while 16-year-old Blake Brown, Defending Grundy County Late Model Track Champion Tom Smith, Chris Koslek, and Chuck MacTrinder completed the Top 10.

Earlier in the afternoon, Hoffman established the USPRO Cup Series Track Record at Grundy County by turning a 15.517 which equals out to 77.257 MPH.

The next race for the USPRO Cup Series will ironically mark the halfway point of their 2008 racing season as the rescheduled Glass Breaker 75 is this Sunday, June 1, 2008 at the fast ½ mile high-banked paved oval of Toledo Speedway, located right across the Michigan / Ohio state line in Toledo, Ohio.

Eddie Hoffman and car owner Tony D'Ambrose.  (ASA LM / Chuck Gonzalez Photos)
The Grundy Country podium.