In most sports, if there is a blowout performance by one team as the clock counts down you can pretty much count on that team winning. Only so many runs, baskets, goals or points can be made up in a limited amount of time.
Racing isn't anything like that. No size of a lead can be safe when parts can break, drivers make mistakes or cars dump oil on the track right in front of the said leader.
That is exactly what Tony Andrews found out during Sunday's Late Model feature at Thunder Road Speedbowl (VT).
Early in the 50-lap race, Andrews was true to the slogan of his Army ROTC-sponsored racecar. He was Army strong as he started from the front row and ran away with an early lead. A largely caution-free race allowed Andrews to stretch his margin over the field for the first half of the feature.
Meanwhile, some of the best-known big dogs of the ACT Late Models were stuck deep in the field. Phil Scott, John Donahue, Cris Michaud, Nick Sweet and Dave Pembroke all started in the middle to rear of the grid and didn't make much immediate progress.
After halfway, Grant Folsom started to run down Andrews while Scott started to make some serious progress towards the front. It appeared that neither driver had enough time to chip away enough at Andrews' lead though to win the race.
But then came lap 44.
That was when the #99 of Cody Blake erupted in smoke and fire on the fronstretch. The culprit was an oil line, which ruptured and dumped fluid down onto the track. Andrews got into the mess and slide around, but kept his car moving forward. Scott also slid through the mess and kept going. As a result, both drivers kept their positions. Folsom seemed to dodge the mess entirely. So those drivers all maintained their position on the restart.
Not so lucky were top five runners Dylan Smith and Brooks Clark. They both spun and because they ended up stopped, were placed to the rear of the field. Both ended up finishing the race outside of the top 15.
On the final restart, Andrews pulled away while Scott moved up to second place. That was how they finished with Folsom, Dave Whitcomb and Joey Becker rounding out the top five.
In victory lane, Andrew dedicated the victory to the United States armed services.
“This one is for the troops,” said Andrews. “They're over there doing what they do so we can be here to do what we do. Thanks.”
The Thunder Road Late Models return to action this Thursday night for the annual running of the Governor's Cup race. Speed51.com plans to be on hand for that event with our Trackside Now coverage of the race.