No stranger to WIR, it took Carlson just three laps after the restart to grab the lead from Eilen. He began to drive away from the field, but one local driver wasn't going to let him get too far.
You see, it probably takes Kyle Calmes longer to unload his car then drive from his house to the track, and that was evident as he began to close in on the #66.
“The competition is so tough that if you just miss it one tick you'll be in the back, “said Calmes, “We were prepared for it and we knew were capable of getting towards the front.”
Finally around lap 115, Calmes' #9 caught Carlson's #66 and the two battled for a few laps.
“It was an anxious moment for me,” said Calmes, “When I chased him down for a second there I had some serious thoughts about winning the race and it was getting unreal. I think I lost my focus a little bit on just keeping calm and saving tires. As soon as I caught him I felt like it was five laps to go and I think I used my tires up too much.”
“I knew in the second half we had a real good car because I had good bite,” said Carlson, “The 9 car caught me, but my spotter told me he was getting loose off the turns, one lap he almost slapped it back in to the wall, and I knew at the point he was pretty much done.”
Carlson kept his position and then began to open up the gap on the rest of the field again. If he happened to glance in his rear view mirror though, he would have seen things get pretty interesting.
Fast qualifier Kyle Busch worked his way up to fifth in the first 50 laps, but began to fall off the pace. He slid back to 12th by the halfway break and pulled off the track on lap 92 with handling problems.
A caution at lap 97 involved three cars running in the top ten. Brett Moffit, Nathan Haseleu,
and Mike Gardner tangled in turn four and all were sent to the rear of the field. Gardner the
most damage and finished 23rd, while Haseleu managed a 10th place finish and Moffit finished
Jonathan Eilen, who was the halfway leader, began to lose ground. He'd slide from third all
the way to 9th by the time the checkered flag flew.
Meanwhile though, a few cars came to life. Tim Schendel, who started 17th, was on the move.
With 27 laps to go he was up to the forth position and nine laps later negotiated his way to third
where he finished.
“I knew my car was going to be good in the race,” said Schendel, “We just couldn't find the
speed we needed qualifying, but it's great to keep getting top three's and keep going up in
Chris Wimmer's #52 was another car that worked itself through the field. Wimmer began the
final 75 laps from the 14th position and drove it up to a 4th place finish for his second straight
top-five in the ASAMT.
“We made huge changes at the halfway point, “said Wimmer, “My car wasn't handling very
well the first 75 and I have to give my guys credit, they did a lot of work in a short amount of
time. We've been running well lately so hopefully we can keep it up.”
It was clear though that no one was going to be able to catch Carlson or even second place
Calmes, who earned his first ever ASAMT top-ten finish. As Calmes climbed the podium on
the front stretch, a number of fans erupted in applause and cheering. The #9 couldn't ask for a better place to run so well.
“It feels great, you can hear all my friend and family, and sponsors are all here and it feels really good to make them all proud,” says Calmes, “It's literally fifteen minutes from my house and I know I'd be in the stands if I wasn't here racing.”
Tuesday marked Carlson's second ASAMT win in three races and his fifth top-five in as many starts. “It feels good, it is really good,” said Carlson.
The ASAMT now has a stretch of four races in four weeks. It all begins Sunday, August 17th at Raceway Park in Shakopee.
“It's just a racetrack that you have to have your car handling perfect for the whole race and then it's a lot of fun to race,” said Steve Carlson.
Early in the day it seemed NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Kyle Busch would be the man to beat. He paced the second practice and then his qualifying time of 19.268 seconds was just four-one hundredths off the track record and put him at the top of the charts.
With the invert Busch lined up 10th for the 150 lap feature. Steve Holzhausen jumped out to the lead from the front row on the start and led the first 13 laps. That's when Jonathan Eilen and his #77 came rolling by and led all the way until the break at lap 75.
Behind the leader though, Steve Carlson moved through the field and was closing in on that front spot when the caution flew for the halfway break.
“The whole first half we had real good bite in the car,” says Carlson, “I was kind of saving tires for the second half.”