Following the 300-lap race though, one driver took exception to the driving style of another.
Eddie Hoffman had an eventful day. It started running well near the front, but he got a lap down during a long green flag run by the dominant Wayne Willard. Hoffman was at the back of the field during the green flag run because of pitting off-sequence following an accident where he had to slow and lost nearly all his track position.
Hoffman eventually worked his way back onto the lead lap and found himself battling among the top three cars (along with Jason Hogan and Chuck Barnes Jr.) during the last 50 laps. Hoffman and Barnes eventually got around Hogan and Hoffman set his sights on Barnes and the top spot.
Following a late-race caution, the race was down to just five laps
to go, and Hoffman thought he had a shot at Barnes and the win. However, on the restart, Hogan jumped to the inside of Hoffman and the two drivers made contact. Hoffman was able to pull away from Hogan following the contact, but that allowed Barnes to pull away and cruise on for the victory with Hoffman and Hogan trailing in second and third.
“We got behind when Willard didn’t get going on one of the starts and we messed up the right front,” said Hoffman. “I was ready to park it at that point (when he was a lap down). I didn’t really think we had a chance after that because the 01 (Willard) was hooked up. We just caught a break. That was a bad break in the beginning and caught a good one at the end. The 01 dropped out and we had just gotten by the 92 and he was leading at the time.
“If he (Hogan) wasn’t such a moron and turned me sideways with five-to-go, then I might have had a shot at the win. He had about 10 to 15 guys bounce off his nose in the first race here at the beginning of the year (SES race), so I knew to watch out for him, but I never thought he’d turn me sideways before the start/finish line. You can’t even pass before the start/finish line. You can’t even start to pass. I don’t know what he is thinking, but that is the way he drives.”
Eddie Hoffman (#8) says Jason Hogan (#92, behind Hoffman) cost him a shot at the win. (Bob Milner Photo)
HOFFMAN SAYS HOGAN COST HIM A SHOT
The whole All American 400 weekend went off dramatically well considering there were 60+ Super Late Models in attendance vying for one of 40 spots in Sunday's race. There were no fist fights and very few verbal ones at that.
Hogan countered Hoffman's accusations.
“That is a heat of the moment type deal,” said Hogan. “He can whine and cry all he wants to, but he knows that the last five laps are going to be balls out. It is all or nothing. I got into him when the boy in front of him spun the tires. He came down on me and I wasn’t going to let off or I would have gotten passed by a bunch of guys from behind.
“There are only five to go at that point. If he was behind
Jason Hogan (51 Photo)
me, he would have done the same thing. If he sits down tonight and thinks about it, he’ll say ‘man I was pretty stupid for saying what I said.’ That is just part of racing.
“It is just hard racing You are going to get beat and banged and hit and knocked around. (Race winner Chuck) Barnes came over and apologized for hitting me when he was passing me. I told him it didn’t matter. That was racing. It was fun.”
WILLARD BITTEN BY HIS OWN SPONSOR
broke and cost me the race. It is a parts problem. Nothing you can do with that.
“The big one just always slips away.”
BARNES OVERJOYED, STRATEGY WORKS
The soft-spoken and normally quiet Chuck Barnes Jr. couldn't have asked for a much better weekend than the one he got in Nashville.
His team won the pole, but more importantly, won the race, capping off a season that also saw him win his first Sunoco Super Series race and the Sunoco Super Series Championship.
Wayne Willard is by far one of the best in the Southern short track world. He is always fast and has some of the best equipment out there.
It was, however, his equipment that bit him on Sunday afternoon. And ironically, it was equipment made a key sponsor of his, Port City Racecars South.
“We’ve been having problems with the Port City manufactured single-bolt brackets,” said Willard, who fell out on lap 238 after dominating the event. “I had them on there but I knew we were having problems with them, so I welded them on there instead of just bolting them on. I guess it
Wayne Willard was stopped in his tracks by a faulty trailing arm bracket. (51 Photo)
And the boy had fun doing it.
“What a blast that was,” said Barnes. “Before the race started, we knew we were going to get out and try to run away with it. If someone pressured me, we would just let them go on and try to follow them. That is exactly what we did. We led the first 60 something laps there and then (Wayne) Willard got around us in lapped traffic. I was trying to be cautious and he wrestled his way through there like the veteran he is, so I just followed him which made it easy for me.
“We then raced (Jason) Hogan real hard there at the end. He was doing everything he needed to do to stay in the lead. Man, it was fun. He finally slipped up enough to allow me to get under him. We got by him and it was on from there.”
HOGAN “THIS CLOSE”
The All American 400 has always been one of the crown jewels of the short track racing world and something that young Jason Hogan has always wanted to win. On Sunday, in the return of the All American 400 weekend, Hogan was just 10-laps away from All American glory.
Hogan led the 300-lap event with just 10 laps remaining, but a fading sun and warn tires made Hogan's #92 tight coming off the corners. Although he held off the charge of eventual race winner Chuck Barnes Jr. for nearly 40 laps, he eventually slipped back to third by the time the checkers flew. Still, Hogan was pleased with his performance, which led all of the Southern drivers in contention at Nashville.
“I'm not disappointed with third at all,” said Hogan. “We brought an old car out of the woodwork and got a top-three finish out of it. They’d better be glad I didn’t bring my good car; that is all I can say. The other car at the house is a lot better than this one.”
The Sunoco Super Series Champion Barnes had a great day on Sunday.
Charlie Menard has it figured out: four tires are better than three.
Menard, one of the pre-race All American favorites, kind of struggled all weekend in Nashville, qualifying just 22nd and just slowly making his way up through the field when the green flag dropped.
However, Menard's day came to a crashing halt on lap 63 when his left front tire came off and he crashed into the turn three and four wall, ending his day very early.
“I was coming down the backstretch and felt a little vibration,” said Menard, who had just pitted. “Going into
Charlie Menard's car slams the outside wall after losing a tire, which is seen bouncing ahead of the car. (Milner Photo)
the turn, the tire just popped right off and we got into the wall.
“It is too bad. We had a decent car that would have just gotten better I think. I've determined that these cars don't run as well on three tires though.”
THE FASTEST CAR DOESN'T WIN
Ryan Mathews appeared to have the fastest car for much of the race on Sunday, but a questionable call put him a lap down and he could never seem to fight back from it the whole day long.
“The car was really fast all day long,” said Mathews, a Wisconsin veteran. “That first pit stop, we had a problem on the left front. The stop took longer, but we still got done. As I was puling out, someone got into our left rear and knocked the tire off the rim. I had to drive around with the left rear flat. We came in, put another on. I got out and was right up to the door of the pace car, but (the race officials) made me stop, so we went a lap down.
“I can’t believe they did that in a race like this. It isn’t NASCAR or anything. It was kinda crappy. We tried to get
Ryan Mathews (#2n) was fast all day, but could never get his lap back together.
back on the lead lap, just about made it, but never could catch the caution at the right time.”
Mathews finished 11th
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