Veteran Michigan racer, Andy Bozell, got by Brent Downey with two laps to go to claim his first Sunoco National Tour Victory in the Badgerland 100 at the Milwaukee Mile Saturday. Eddie Hoffman came home in second, with Downey third, and rookie driver Winston Wood in fourth. Seth Moody, another rookie, came home in fifth. Downey had the dominant car, but his motor stumbled late in the race off turn four, which allowed Bozell to get underneath him with two laps remaining. Downey will continue to lead the point standings in the Sunoco National Tour as both Bryan Ortiz and A.J. Henriksen suffered problems.
Bryan Ortiz started the race from the pole position after claiming his first career AR Bodies Fast time award. However, the Puerto Rican driver would not lead a lap as Brent Downey would come from the outside of row one to lead the first lap. A.J. Henriksen followed Downey through to second, while Henriksen's Lorz Motorsports teammate, Jordan Sims, brought his machine into the pits on lap eight with a motor failure, which made him the first driver out of the race.
The first caution of the day flew on lap 30 to give the teams a chance to make adjustments and add fuel if they chose. Pole sitter Bryan Ortiz chose to pit under this caution and the hood went up on his Chevrolet Camaro. A throttle issue was discovered by the team, and Ortiz was forced to watch the remainder of the event from the pits. This was a disappointing finish for the talented 21 year old who was seeking his first career stock car victory.
At the restart on lap 36, A.J. Henriksen and Tanner Berryhill were able to work their way past Brent Downey for first and second respectively. However, their time in front of the Commonwealth Engineering/Kathy's Baskets and Bears Mustang would be short lived, as Downey raced past Berryhill for second on lap 39, and then regained the lead from Henriksen on lap 43.
The third and final caution of the day waved when A.J. Henriksen ran over debris entering turn three causing his right front tire to be cut. Henriksen could not slow his Engineered Components Company Mustang in time, and made heavy contact with the outside retaining wall. This ended Henrkisen's day early, and cost him a chance at a solid finish. This setup the final restart with 23 laps remaining. Brent Downey brought the field down to green with Andy Bozell in second, Seth Moody third, Winston Wood fourth, and Eddie Hoffman fifth.
Downey pulled away at the front of the field as he had for most of the day. It appeared the Brownsburg, Indiana driver would be able to cruise to his first career Sunoco National Tour victory, however his luck would change on lap 86 when he radioed to his crew that the car was perhaps running out of fuel. Downey's car was fluctuating on fuel pressure, which caused it to stumble extremely bad off of turn four. This allowed Bozell, Hoffman, and Wood to catch him at the front of the pack.
During the final five laps, you could have thrown a blanket over the top four cars. With two laps remaining, Downey's car stumbled off of turn four and Andy Bozell dove to the inside to grab the lead. Eddie Hoffman followed suit and came off turn two in second. When the field came around to take the checkered, Bozell had scored his first career Sunoco National Tour victory ahead of Hoffman.
"I'm speechless," said an emotional Bozell in victory lane. "The green flag was the first lap I made here this weekend. This is the first time I have been around this race track in 14 years. I didn't want to get in anybody's way, but as the race went on the car stayed decent. Brent had a motor problem and I was able to clear him. I don't know what to say. It's amazing!"
While Bozell was celebrating in victory lane, Brent Downey was trying to figure out what cost him a victory in a race he dominated. "It is horrible," stated a dejected Downey after seeing the race victory disappear in the final laps. "We had a dominant car. Something was going on with the fuel pump or the motor. It started laying down with about 20 to go and we just were not getting any speed down the straight-aways. It's disappointing, but we had a good points day, so we will just have to go get them next time."