Ross Kenseth, Bret Miles, Sr. and Kevin Claborn took hard fought victories on the opening day of the legendary Winchester Speedway. On a day that threatened rain but was dry all day, with a strong wind, the racing was hot as drivers fought every lap for the win. Two races with cars side by side on the last lap and one winner that only led the last lap kept the crowd on the edge of their seats the entire day.
Kenseth started his first trip to Winchester by setting fast time for the Manning Service 100, just beating John VanDoorn by only .008 of a second. He then drew a four putting Tommy St. John on the pole with Scott Hantz on the outside of the front row. St. John jumped out to the early lead, with VanDoorn following him and pressuring him as they ran out front.
Kenseth slipped past as VanDoorn, experiencing ignition problems that would eventually force him out of the race, slowed noticeably. Kenseth then chased down St. John as they set a torrid pace pulling away from the pack to a race by themselves.
Kenseth was still running second when he made contact with leader St. John on lap 51, causing St. John to make hard contact with the inside front stretch retaining wall ending St. John’s day. Kenseth was sent to the tail of the lead lap cars for the contact. He then steadily worked his way to the front of the field to pressure three time series Champion Scott Hantz, who assumed the lead after Kenseth’s contact with St. John, over the final 20 laps before making the impressive outside pass going into turn one after taking the white flag.
“First of all I have to say sorry to Tommy St. John, I didn’t mean to get into the back of his car and cause him to spin,” remarked Kenseth. “This is a great place to get a win, I appreciate the opportunity to get to race such a great car that my team gave me today, it was fast!”
Kenseth earned a $500 bonus from Ford Racing for using a Ford engine to get his victory. He also received the EDCO Welding Fast Qualifier Award and the Team Construction Clean Sweep Award. The EMF Corp That’s Racing Award and the Kingen Interstate Express Halfway Leader Award went to St. John, as did the VDL Fuel Systems Hot Lap of the Race Award for the fastest lap under green, the Safety Solutions Hard Luck Award for his hard crash and the AR Bodies Cool Move of the Race for his last lap pass of Hantz.
Jack Smith had an impressive run starting on the tail after issues kept him from qualifying. He then worked his way through the field only to have to pit toward the end for fuel, but still finishing seventh. For this he earned the Lane Automotive/ISKY Racing Cams Hardcharger Award. He also earned a Hoosier Racing Tire Performance Award along with JR Roahrig.
The Perfect Circle Racecars Rookie of the Race Award went to John Long for his eighth place finish, along with the K&N Filters Top Rookie Finisher Award and the VDL Fuel Systems Top Rookie Award. The Cometic Gasket Rookie Award went to Colin Nickolai.
The CRA Street Stock race was also hard fought as two veteran drivers worked for the win on the last lap as Jeff Lane chased down Bret Mile, Sr. but could not get past in a final lap attempt as Miles took the win. Miles was driving because his son Bret Miles, Jr. was on a vacation planned before the date of the race was moved due to inclement weather. Rich Boyer finished third, Chad Poorman fourth and fast qualifier Scott Neal fifth.
“This is a high groove race track.” Miles commented. “But today this car really took off on the low side. I thought, Wow this is a tow groove car and I ran it as hard as I could”
Kevin Claborn has been to Winchester Speedway many times to compete with the Vore’s Welding and Steel CRA FWD Compacts, but luck has not been with him as his fast car would break down, or he would be involved in an accident. He avoided all the usual problems and charged out to win in the Vore’s Welding and Steel 25. Tim Dilg finished second, Greg De St. Jean third, Sean Barry fourth and Brian Redmond fifth.
On Saturday night the Howe CRA Late Model Sportsman held their second race of the season at Anderson Speedway. "I like this track," Declared a jubilant Al Cook, Jr. in victory lane after leading every lap of the Anderson 75. Charlie Hanna ended up second, after Keith Sterkowitz dropped back with three laps to go due to lost brakes after hitting a chunk of lead left on the track by another competitor. Sterkowitz pushed Cook for many laps and seemed to be ready to make a move when disaster struck. Hanna also hit the lead. "I thought my rear end broke after I hit that lead." Hanna said. "I think we could have won if we had not had that last caution." Mark Lambert finished third, Jason Atkinson fourth and Howard Kelly, Jr. fifth.
The next event for the CRA Super Series will be the second race for the CRA Southern Six Pack Tour, the WearCrete Racing 150 at Tri County Speedway in Hudson, NC on Friday, May 21. It is part of a special weekend with another event at Hickory Speedway, in Newton, NC on Sunday, May 23. For more information see www.craracing.net.
The CRA Street Stocks and the Vore’s Welding and Steel CRA FWD Compacts will be back in action at Winchester Speedway on May 23 as part of the King of the Wing Sprint Car Challenge event. For more information see www.winchesterspeedway.com.
The Howe CRA Late Model Sportsman will next be appearing at Mt. Lawn Speedway on June 13 for a 50 feature in an event that will also feature the CRA Street Stocks and the Vore’s Welding and Steel CRA FWD Compacts. For more information see www.craracing.net