Hantz Opens Up 2008 CRA Season With a Victory
It's Finally a Sunny Day at Winchester Speedway
Scott Hantz, Carl Muffley and Bill Charles all came away with CRA victories on Sunday afternoon on the High Banks of Winchester Speedway in the rescheduled season opener for all three series that was originally scheduled for last Sunday, but was postponed by a week because of rain. A large crowd came back out to see the event, which included the USAC Sprint Car Series in the Rich Vogler Classic. The CRA Super Series finally got their season opening event in after weather had postponed their first three scheduled events of 2008.
Two time CRA Super Series Champion Scott Hantz got the victory in Sunday's Manning Service 100, a hard earned victory for the driver of the Dick Poe owned team out of Angola, Indiana. Appleton Rack & Pinion Fast Qualifier Rick Turner drew a four for the event's invert putting Hantz on the pole, but it was veteran Jeff Lane getting the lead at the drop of the green from his outside starting position. Lane would lead the first 47 laps before slowing slightly anticipating a possible caution when A.J. Ganino spun off the track in turn two, but Ganino never stopped so no caution was thrown, but the hesitation by Lane allowed Hantz to power by after the two had raced side by side for several laps. Lane dropped out of the event on lap 96 with a bad vibration.
Hantz would go on and get the victory while a battle ensued behind him for the other top five finishing positions. Boris Jurkovic looked to be the car that would possibly be able to challenge Hantz for the lead as he worked his way from his ninth starting position to second making several passes using the lower groove in the closing laps. A late caution put Jurkovic on Hantz's bumper on a restart with only four laps to go, but fate dealt Jurkovic a bad blow as
a broken transmission left him lagging behind as the other lead laps cars passed him all battling for position until the checkered flag fell.
"This is the best car I have ever had here," Hantz remarked. "I was just biding my time trying to past Jeff on the inside, but Jeff has the experience here so I had to wait. I just didn't want to make a mistake."
1997 series Champion Kenny Tweedy finished in second in his first event for new car owner Ken Muller. Jason Dietsch survived a tough mid race battle with Jurkovic and JR Roahrig to get third, which earned him the ARP Bodies Cool Move Of The Race Award. Roahrig would hold on to get fourth with series rookie Zach Taylor finishing in fifth. Muncie, Indiana native Aaron Pierce finished in sixth after finishing 14th in the Rich Vogler Classic. Jurkovic held on to finish seventh, Terry Fisher Jr. finished eighth, the last car on the lead lap. Sean Matthuis finished in ninth and Jason Shively tenth.
Hantz 's victory was his 19th with the CRA Super Series, which now puts him in second place on the series all time victory list, Brian Ross is the all time leader in series victories with 22 wins. Hantz had been tied for second with Canadian legend Junior Hanley. It was Hantz's second victory at Winchester, his first came in the 2006 Winchester 400.
Zach Taylor was the K & N Filters Rookie Of The Race Award winner with his fifth place finish, he also earned a Hoosier Racing Tire Performance Award. Fellow rookie competitor Aaron Pierce was the ISKY Racing Cams/Lane Automotive Hardcharger Award winner for advancing eight positions during the Manning Service 100, he also earned a Hoosier Racing Tire Performance Award.
Hantz was won the Holley Performance Award, the Kingen Interstate Express Halfway Leader Bonus, as well as the VDL Fuel Systems Hot Lap Of The Race Award winner. Rick Turner was awarded the EMF Corp That's Racing Award after his car suffered extensive damage after hitting the front stretch wall after contact with another car on lap 13. Donald Karr Jr. was the Leaf Racewear Hard Luck Award winner after his day ended after a crash also on lap 13.
Plymouth, Indiana veteran racer Carl Muffley held off a hard charging Jake Owens to get his first CRA Street Stock points victory in the MAX 40, the season opener for the CRA Street Stocks. Muffley charged to the lead from his seventh place starting position with Owens charging right behind. Owens followed Muffley for several laps waiting for the right time to make a move for the lead. Muffley's far started smoking over the final five laps, but Muffley was able to hold on and get the win with Owens in second, Brian Hopkins in third, Joe Beaver in fourth and Jeff Perry in fifth. Beaver was the day's fast qualifier while Muffley and Josh Burton won the heats races. Derrick Layne was the TCI Automotive Harcharger Of The Race Award winner.
"We were not very good this morning, but we kept working at and finally found what we needed. My guys really worked hard, we tried several things and found the right one. It was great to win." Muffley said from Victory Lane.
Bill Charles took the lead on lap number two and held off several challenges to get the victory in the Vore's Welding & Steel 20 for the Vore's Welding & Steel CRA FWD Compacts. Richard Isbell finished in second, Justin Kelly in third, Randy Owen in fourth and Bobby Sanders in fifth. Jonathon Pitts originally finished second in the event, but he failed post-race inspection.
Next up for the CRA Super Series will be the CRA Super Sunday 100 Presented By Dietsch Sales & Service and Klotz Lubricants on Sunday, May 18th at Baer Field Speedway in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
Scott Hantz in victory lane at Winchester. *CRA Photo)