Boris Jurkovic was huffing and puffing.
The long-time Chicagoland racing veteran ran as hard as he could, but he couldn't beat his nephew Eric to the pit area following Saturday night's annual Tony Bettenhausen Classic at the ASA-sanctioned Illiana Speedway.
Of course, Jurkovic was at a disadvantage. He was carrying a huge and heavy trophy, signifying one of the biggest wins of his career.
On the track, Jurkovich could be caught - Brett Sontag did that. But he couldn't be passed. When all was said and done, that resulted in his first Bettenhausen victory.
"A really special day for us," Jurkovic said. "I've been trying to win this race for 10 years, and for us to finally be able to do it puts a chapter of my (racing) life to rest. It was the only thing I thought about every year."
Jurkovich had Grundy County Speedway track champion and two-time defending Bettenhausen winner Brett Sontag on his bumper for virtually the entire race.
The duo raced hard, bumped often, but kept it totally clean. It likely took most peoples' eyes off of the early runaway by Blake Brown as they battled for fourth, then third, then second place.
Finally, Jurkovic was able to take the lead from Brown after a restart on lap 68. Sontag went with him, and the mad chase continued.
"At the end (Sontag) was a little better than we were," Jurkovic said. "We haven't been here in awhile and neither has he. So for both of us to go to the front was pretty good.
"I just can't thank Brett enough for giving us a clean run. I mean, he could have run into us in the middle of corner a few times pretty good, and he let me get straightened back up and raced me like a man. I appreciate that."
Sontag, who had the third-fastest qualifying time behind Eddie Hoffman and Ross Kenseth, did everything he could possibly do with his No. 5, much of the time with Hoffman breathing down his neck.
"It was a blast," Sontag said. "Boris is a tough guy to pass sometimes. He'd push up in 3 and 4 and I'd roll underneath him. We probably could have won, but I'm happy with second.
"It was a good night. It would have neat to win three in a row and (match) Frank Gawlinski. I always thought he was one of the best racers ever and I heard he won three in a row. But I'm happy with second."
The difference at the finish was 0.318 seconds. Hoffman ran a comfortable third, 1.082 seconds behind the winner. Brown faded a bit, but still was a solid fourth ahead of a cluster of finishers - Kenseth, Dave Gentile and John Nutley.
The final turbo stox feature of the season went to Eddie Wolf, who chased down and passed Chris Woodall with 10 laps remaining in the 35-lap main event.
Woodall, who claimed the overall title in the two-race "challenge" between Grundy County and Illiana street stock-type cars, held off four-time track champion Bill Serviss, Billy Jarrells, Brian Kucaba and Butch Wood.
Late-model Qualifying: 1. Eddie Hoffman (19.338), 2. Ross Kenseth (19.406), 3. Brett Sontag (19.573), 4. Brandon Hill (19.597), 5. Boris Jurkovic (19.602), 6. Blake Brown (19.611), 7. Steve Carlson (19.660), 8. Griffin McGrath (19.768), 9. Joe O'Connor (19.820), 10. Mike White (19.828), 11. Danny Darnell (19.836), 12. Jamie Wallace (19.849), 13. John Nutley (19.869), 14. Chris Cooling (19.877), 15. Jack Kalwasinski (19.902), 16. Tom Smith (19.902), 17. Ricky Baker (19.922), 18. Dave Gentile (19.932), 19. D.J.Weltmeyer (19.960), 20. Len Nowosel (19.988), 21. Richard Ruckh (20.039), 22. Bobby Gash (20.043), 23. Doug Hayes (20.071), 24. Dean Patterson (20.078), 25. Jerry Sharp (20.085), 26. Keith Tolf (20.105), 27. Anthony Danta (20.115), 28. Scott Dunning (20.258), 29. Don Sabatino (20.354), 30. Phil Splant (20.446), 31. Scott Koerner (20.490), 32. Kevin Offdenkamp (21.070).
1st qualifying race: 1. Weltmeyer, 2. Baker, 3. Sharp, 4. Hayes, 5. Koerner, 6. Sabatino, 7. Ruckh, 8. Danta.
2nd qualifying race: 1. Nowosel, 2. Gentile, 3. Tolf, 4. Patterson, 5. Splant, 6. Dunning, 7. Offdenkamp, 8. Gash.
1st heat: 1. Nutley, 2. Jurkovic, 3. Hoffman, 4. O'Connor, 5. Sontag, 6. Carlson, 7. Darnell, 8. Kalwasinski.
2nd heat: 1. Brown, 2. Cooling, 3. White, 4. Smith, 5. Wallace, 6. Hill, 7. Kenseth, 8. McGrath.
Last chance: 1. Sharp, 2. Tolf, 3. Splant, 4. Ruckh, 5. Koerner, 6. Danta, 7. Dunning, 8. Hayes, 9. Patterson, 10. Sabatino, 11. Offdenkamp, 12. Gash.
100-lap Bettenhausen Classic (pending post-race inspections): 1. Jurkovic, 2. Sontag, 3. Hoffman, 4. Brown, 5. Kenseth, 6. Gentile, 7. Nutley, 8. O'Connor, 9. Darnell, 10. Carlson, 11. McGrath, 12. Cooling, 13. Weltmeyer, 14. Kalwasinski, 15. Baker, 16. Gash, 17. Nowosel, 18. Hill, 19. Smith, 20. Patterson, 21. Sharp, 22. Tolf, 23. Ruckh, 24. Splant, 25. Wallace, 26. White (pulled off after 2 laps).