Josh Vadnais Realizes a Dream by Winning Rockford's Short Track Championships By Kevin Ramsell/STC PR
Becomes the Second Driver from Minnesota to Win Prestigious Short Track Event
The 322-mile drive from Loves Park, IL to White Bear Lake, MN will be a fun drive for Josh Vadnais as he realized a dream today by winning the 43rd Annual National Guard National Short Track Championships at Rockford Speedway. Vadnais became the second driver from Minnesota to win the famous event.
“My very first ever NASCAR tour race I ever ran was here and I remember coming here and it’s the biggest of the big shows and I wanted to be that guy in victory lane so bad,” a smiling Vadnais stated in victory lane. “So many great drivers have raced and won here like the late Joe Shear. This is just a dream come true for me. To win here is probably one of the biggest wins you can have in short track racing.”
Vadnais drove to a five-car length victory over Hoffman to his first win and becoming the second driver from the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, since Mike Miller in 1973 to win.
He held off the three-time NSTC Champion for the win. But he wasn’t worried about Hoffman,
“Actually, I was a little bit relieved because while Eddie is really good here and he will move you, I knew that we would race hard, we might touch, that it would be a clean finish. For me, I knew I had to run consistent laps and be smooth and make him work for it.”
Hoffman wasn’t disappointed with his second place run after being involved on the opening lap crash. “Coming from the back was sort of wild. Just the same old stuff of where it’s hard to pass and you are not making any friends. You got to rub and push a little, and we did it without wrecking anybody,” Hoffman stated after the race. “It would have been nice to run with Josh, but we weren’t on equal tires with him. I thought we could catch him but we got the tires real hot and we were like dead even on the last ten laps.”
Wilberg, the weekend’s fast qualifier, came home with a third place finish. “We thought we might have something to challenge him with but around lap 80 or so we lost the brakes,” Wilberg stated afterwards. “At the break, the guys worked real hard to try to fix it and we got them back for about 20 laps and the brake pedal was right to the floor.”
The feature event got off a rough start with a ten-car accident in turns three. It appeared to have started when everyone checked up after front row starters Dan Lensing and Ryan Carlson got together on the backstretch. The worse part of the accident was when Terry Patnode came in to turn three, tried to stop and went over the front of Morrissey’s car into the turn three wall. This brought out a red flag.
Some cars involved include: Eddie Hoffman, Eddie May, Tom Gille, Terry Patnode, Rich Bickle Jr., Andrew Morrissey, Jerry Gille, Stevie Campbell, Matt Kocourek and M.G. Gajewski.
With the caution laps counting, the re-start occurred on lap 11 with Lensing in the lead being chased by Steve Rubeck. David Prunty moved up to third from his fourth starting spot on lap 16 over Carlson. Carlson would get the spot back on lap 23.
At the 25-lap mark, Rubeck was on the inside of Lensing to challenge for the lead, but Lensing was able to get a good run on the outside line to hold the top spot.
Rubeck got on the inside of Lensing again on lap 34 and the two battled for the lead for five laps until Rubeck got loose in turn one allowing Lensing to pull out to a car length lead.
That gap didn’t last long as Rubeck was back on the inside of Lensing on lap 42 to challenge again. The two made contact coming out of turn four on lap 45 causing Lensing to get loose. Rubeck slowed to let Lensing gather it back up but that allowed Carlson to go on the outside of the two and take over the top spot and Prunty in second. Lensing fell back to eighth.
Vadnais celebrates his dream win in the Short Track Championships event at Rockford. (Doug Hornickel Photos)
The second caution flew on lap 49 when Colin Bamke got into the back of Bobby Wilberg in turn two causing Wilberg to spin. Bamke was sent to the rear and Wilberg got his spot back.
On the re-start it was Carlson in the lead with Prunty in second and Rubeck in third. Brett Sontag was in fourth with Jeremy Lepak rounding out the top five.
The caution flew on lap 70 when he and Sontag were side-by-side for third when the two made contact going down the backstretch sending Rubeck hard into the outside wall and coming to a stop in the turn three wall. Rubeck was done and Sontag was sent to the rear for his involvement.
During the caution, Lepak’s car came to a stop in turns one and two and was pushed into the pits. His attempt for a third consecutive win ended.
Vadnais (#11) makes the winning move by David Prunty (#1)
Carlson led the field to the re-start on lap 79 with Prunty in second. But that changed two laps later when Carlson appeared to have developed engine problems and was off the pace, this handed the lead over to Prunty with Josh Vadnais in second and Wilberg in third Sontag would also retire on lap 87 with engine problems and he would pull into the pits.
Vadnais would get on the inside of Prunty on lap 92 and would easily take over the top spot going into turn three.
At the halfway break it was Vadnais in the lead with Prunty in second and Wilberg in third. Brad “JJ” Mueller was fourth and Nathan Haseleu in fifth. During the break, Haseleu changed a tire and per the event rules would have to re-start from the tail of the field. Haseleu took his car to the pits and didn’t return.
Vadnais continued to lead on the re-start, but there was a change for second on lap 106 as Wilberg got past Prunty for second. Wilberg started to work on chasing down Vadnais.
Prunty would fall off the pace and head to the pits on lap 112, it appeared his day was done. The caution flew on lap 115 as Bickle was off the pace in turns one and two. A piece of debris came from Bickle’s car to bring out the caution.
Vadnais continued to lead on the re-start with 80 laps to go with Wilberg on his back bumper and Mueller in third.
With 65 laps to go, Vadnais pulled out to a five car length lead over Wilberg. But, behind him, three-time NSTC champion Eddie Hoffman was working his way through the field getting up to fourth by lap 139.
It was a wild race at Rockford to say the least.
The caution flew on lap 159 as Jerry Gille went for a wild ride in turns one and two as he went into the wall hard. The car sailed vertically into the billboards behind the wall and made a hard landing. Fortunately, he was able to walk away. This brought out the second red flag of the race.
After the cleanup, Vadnais brought the field to the green with 37 laps to go. Vadnais would get a good run off of the turns to get a little distance. Behind him, Hoffman was looking on the inside of Mueller for third.
Hoffman would make the pas for third on lap 168 and started to chase down Wilberg for second.
Hoffman made his move to the inside of Wilberg for second with 25 laps to go and made the pass complete a lap later. Hoffman was looking for Vadnais.
But, Hoffman would not get close to Vadnais as he would go on to take the win. Wilberg would finish third. Mueller finished fourth with Matt Kocourek rounding out the top five.