Labor Day Weekend had eight features and over 140 cars at the famed high banks of Winchester Speedway this past weekend, the racing was close, and the wins tough to get. With the CRA Super Series, USA Modifieds, Howe CRA Late Model Sportsman, CRA Street Stocks, Vore’s Welding and Steel FWD Compacts and Thunder /Enduro Cars there was something for everyone. The CRA Super Series alone featured four former Super Series Champions racing for the win.
In the McGunegill Engine Performance 100 for the CRA Super Series Scott Hantz fell back, caught up when there was a caution, and then tried to slide past John VanDoorn on the last lap for an exciting finish. VanDoorn and TJ Reaid jumped out to an early lead, and stretched it up to a half lap with Reaid in front and VanDoorn tight on his tail. VanDoorn found an opening, powered by and took off building a lead of almost a half a lap on everyone and nearly 3/4 a lap on the third place car of Hantz. On the 68th lap after 67 green flag laps in a row, a car brushed the wall causing only the second caution of the race. While Hantz and Reaid fought for second, VanDoorn again took off before the other cars began to catch him. Reaid was closing quickly with only seven laps to go when his engine gave out and brought out a caution flag. VanDoorn again took off on the green flag, leading Hantz. Hantz came back, tried to duck under VanDoorn but could not make it happen and waited. VanDoorn fought an ill handling car to the end, with Hantz pulling down beside VanDoorn on the last lap to finish beside him less than a fender behind or .030 seconds with the crowd on their feet cheering the drivers.
"That was fun,” VanDoorn stated. "We broke a hub with 30 to go, and I was just waiting on it to break all the way, but it held on. Racing beside Scott Hantz, what a great way to run outside of Scott that last lap. There are not many people I trust running beside me at over 120 mph, but Scott is one."
Donnie Wilson took the EDCO Welding Fast Qualifier Award. He then drew a seven for the invert putting T.J. Reaid on the pole in his first trip to Winchester Speedway. Reaid took the early lead, but could not hold it as VanDoorn proved too strong. Reaid did earn the VDL Fuel Systems Hot Lap of the Race Award for turning the fastest lap during the race.
VanDoorn earned the McGunegill Engine Performance $1500 winners Product Certificate and the Kingen Interstate Halfway Leader Award bonus. The Hoosier Racing Tires Performance Awards went to Eddie Van Meter and Brian Rievley. Former CRA Super Series Champion Rievley also earned the Lane Automotive/ISKY Racing Cams Hardcharger Award moving from his 21st starting position to finish seventh. Tommy St.John’s name was drawn as the winner of the $1000 McGunegill Engine Performance Product Certificate.
Brent Jack earned the AR Bodies Cool Move of the Race Award for avoiding both the car of Adam Purdy and inside wall by heading for pit road and avoiding the people and cars there. Purdy received the Safety Solutions Tough Luck Award for his hard crash on the second lap.
The USA Modified Series win was taken by Chad Poole in a tough race. Poole came from his seventh place starting position to get the victory over Bud Perry, holding him off on several restarts. Brad Springer finished in third, Tim Burkett fourth and Brian Nester was fifth. Springer was the events fast qualifier. Poole got the victory in Sunday nights Dash, while Damon Breedlove won the heat race.
The 117 of Scott Neal proved victorious in the Sullivan RV Sales and Service 40 Howe CRA Late Model Sportsman feature. He had a close margin of victory at a 0.386 second difference. “ My car was a beast from the word go. My Hoosier tires performed awesome and came into play for this win”, said Scott after his win. The 7 of Jason Atkinson claimed that close second finish. Kale Asztalos finished third, Mark Mason in his first Sportsman start was fourth, and Charlie Hanna rounding out the top five.
The CRA Street Stocks Max Rocks 40 was nothing short of its name and rocked the grand stands. There were a total of four cautions, one red flag, and three leader changes with 31 cars taking the green flag. The Bret Miles, Jr. proved victorious in midst of the action and took the checkered flag with a 0.701 margin of victory. “This track has a lot of history and I have always wanted a win at Winchester”, said Miles. Chad Poorman finished second to Miles, Jr. “ We were a little tight during the race. I would of liked a first place finish but we will take it”, said Poorman. Josh Poore finished third, Rich Boyer fourth, and Rick Erwin fifth. Miles joins his father Bret Miles, Sr. as a CRA Street Stock winner at Winchester this season. Miles, Sr. took the win in the first race there in May filling in for Miles, Jr. after the weather forced a postponement of the race and Miles, Jr. was out of town on race day.
JB Racing team of Justin Brown and Cary Abrell has now won the last four Vore's Welding and Steel CRA FWD Compact races in a row, all at Winchester Speedway. The first three belong to Brown who set a record for being the first driver in this division to win three in a row, Abrell took over and won the fourth on Sunday. Starting deep in the field after qualifying second to Brown, Abrell charged through the field to get to second on the 13th lap. A caution for debris after a car had its tire come apart on the track on the 14th lap moved Abrell up to restart beside the Jess Drook in the double file restart. Abrell took the lead pulling off the second turn and went on to win. Drook finished second, Tim Dilg third, Jeff Shelmadine fourth and Brown fifth.
"This has been a long road to this win. Racing at Winchester is awesome, and I race with a great bunch of guys." Abrell stated. "We all race clean, race hard and then go cookout together afterward. Justin really makes it interesting to beat him. This makes it four CRA races in a row for JB Racing and I really need to thank the CRA guys for running a series that is so much fun, and fair. It has been a great weekend."
On Sunday night it did not look like Justin Brown was going to become the first driver to win three Vore's Welding and Steel CRA FWD Compact races in row as the laps wound down and he fought to pass first place driver Jeff Shelmadine. Then as the cars were coming to the white flag Shelmadine was black flagged for running more than .300 under his qualifying time for at least two consecutive laps as Brown pushed him win. Though Shelmadine crossed the line first, because of the black flag Brown was awarded the win, Bobby Cook finished second, Steve Derouin third, Greg Isbell fourth and Jeff Williams fifth.
"That was a fun long race." Brown declared from victory lane. "I have to thank everyone that helped me get three wins in a row, my team, my family and my friends. I was just got lucky and missed all the wrecks as I came past everyone."
Kevin Claborn took the lead of the Thunder Car feature from Rob Wyman on the sixth lap but was only able to hold it for three laps before he developed problems and Wyman retook the lead on the 10th lap going on to win. "He had much more motor than I did for half the race anyway." Wyman stated. "I had to get out front quick to try to get away and I did, but he caught me."
Claborn won both the heat and the feature at the World Stock Car Festival on Sunday night, beating out Dale Phillips for the heat win and Rod Phipps for the feature win.
Saturday, September 18 will be a very busy night for all the Champion Racing Association divisions. The CRA Super Series and Howe Late Model Sportsman will be at the Welch and Wilson Rock and Race 100 at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Clermont, IN. The event will feature a band performing before the race at the parking area and a new car will be given away to a lucky person in the crowd. The CRA Street Stocks and the Vore's Welding and Steel CRA FWD Compact will be in action at Anderson Speedway, in Anderson, IN. For more information about any of the CRA Division see www.craracing.net.