FEESE FINISHES FIRST AT NASHVILLE By Don Radebaugh
In Only His Second Start, The Sprint Car Driver Take It All
Race award for pit strategy and a very speedy engine change just prior to qualifying. Clements won the Thermo-Tec/Cool It Header Wrap award for finishing on the lead lap from the furthest back.
The next event for the RE/MAX Series will be the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 Sunday afternoon, April 25 at Salem Speedway.
NASCAR veteran Todd Bodine had a close call after he tangled with Randal Ritter and smacked the frontstretch wall hard early in the race. “That was the hardest hit I’ve ever had,” said Bodine who was not injured. Bodine was awarded the Landrum Spring Hard Luck award as a result.
Feese also picked up the Bennigan’s Halfway Leader award while 12th place finisher Billy Venturini, who started 32nd, won the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger honors for advancing the most positions. Hemphill’s Braun Racing crew received the Gladiator GarageWorks Gladiator of the
ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Blake Feese, in only his second series attempt, looked more like a veteran on his way to victory lane Friday night at Nashville Superspeedway.
Todd Bodine took a wild ride after tangling with a lapped car and slamming into the outside wall.
one or two more laps,” said Atwood. “We had the best car all night, so we’re disappointed in the finish. We had some fuel pick-up problems, but once we cured that, we were able to stay up front.”
Graf, a road racer by trade, was competing in his first-ever oval track race in the BAM Racing Dodge and finished a solid third after leading five laps. Three-time Nashville winner Frank Kimmel steered the Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford to the finish in fourth over Ken Schrader, who completed the top-five in his own Federated Auto Parts-sponsored Chevrolet.
The Saybrook, Illinois driver, in the Bobby Gerhart Racing Research Chevrolet, passed Germany’s Klaus Graf for the lead four laps from the finish and then held off a hard-charging Casey Atwood to win the eventful PFG Lester 150.
“This is just incredible,” said Feese from victory lane as he held his new electric Gibson guitar trophy. “A couple of months ago, my stock car program had all but fizzled out. Then the opportunity to run for Bobby and Billy Gerhart came along and I jumped at the chance. I knew the Gerhart’s were going to give me the right program to work with, to learn with. And I knew we would be respectable, but winning in our first attempt together is beyond my biggest dreams. I’m just so grateful. I had a lot of great people working behind me.”
Feese, a veteran of World of Outlaw and All Star sprint car competition, completed the 150-mile event with just one pit stop for fuel and four tires while several other front-runners, pitted twice.
Atwood, in the FitzBradshaw-Perfect Walls Chevrolet, finished second one length away. “I think we could have won this race is we had maybe
Through it all, there were seven lead changes among five drivers including Pork polesitter Ryan Hemphill whose victory lane hopes ended just ten laps from the finish when his Trim Spa Dodge tangled with the lapped car of Chris Comalander while leading. Hemphill, who led twice for 73 laps, made heavy contact with the wall trying to clear Comalander and limped to the finish a disappointing 15th.
Hemphill, after establishing a new one-lap track record earlier in the day, led the first 43 laps before giving it up to Atwood in favor of, what was supposed to be, his one and only stop for fuel and tires. With just enough gas to get to the finish,
Hemphill feathered his way back through the pack while Atwood, Feese and Kimmel traded the lead back and forth. Hemphill regained control of the top-spot on lap 75 when the leaders came down pit road for their second and final stop of the night. From there, Hemphill pulled away little by little appearing to be well on his way to victory lane before his bout with Comalander eliminated the opportunity. With Hemphill gone from the mix, Graf stepped up to lead before Feese made his move to the front.
In all, and aided by eight cautions for 42 laps, 11 machines finished on the lead lap including Wayne Anderson who finished sixth in the Flagship RV Chevrolet ahead of local favorite Tandy Marlin’s Boat Shop Dodge in seventh. Jeremy Clements, in the Broadway Motor Company Chevrolet, finished eighth over Josh Clemons, in the USM Productions Ford, in ninth with AJ Fike trailing in tenth in Andy Hillenburg’s Ray Farms Pontiac. The last car on the lead lap was rookie Brandon Knupp who steered his way to an 11th place finish from the 17th starting position in his first series start.
Casey Atwood (#14) and Ryan Hemphill (#64) were two of the fastest cars on the track, but neither were able to get the win. (VPS Photo)
Sprint car ace Blake Feese won his first ARCA race in only his second start. (ARCA Photo)