HANLEY FINALLY GETS ANDERSON 400 VICTORY by Mike Miller
Hantz The Only Real Challenger For Hall Of Fame Driver
The win followed a runner-up finish here at Anderson Speedway (IN) in 2003 for Hanley and added to a long list of successes in his stock car career.
Hanley dominated the early segments of the race, thanks largely to a number of cautions on the high-banked ¼-mile track. Only 16 cars from the 29-car starting field were able to complete more than 209 laps in the 38th running of this grueling test.
Along with fellow front row starter Terry Fisher, Jr., Hanley avoided a series of spectaculars crashes and led from the opening green through his first pit stop at lap 196.
Before Ontario short track legend Junior Hanley was able to put away Saturday’s NationsRent 400 trophy for safe-keeping, the Sunoco Super Series veteran had to hold off a pair of determined charges from fellow series regular Scott Hantz.
Junior Hanley was shining bright on Saturday night at Anderson Speedway (IN).
“We had two more tires sitting there so we decided to put them on,” said Hantz of his second pit stop. “I feel like we really ran the last hundred. If I could have gotten aside of him I might have had him, but Junior made that car awful wide.”
Hanley led for 298 of the 400 trips around the historic Anderson Speedway.
“He (Hantz) got his tires after we did so I had to help him use his tires up before he would be able to get by me,”
Scott Hantz took the lead by remaining on the track when many of the other contenders elected to take pit stops. With Hantz holding the point for the next 102 circuits, a yellow flag at lap 293 seemed to be the obvious time for him to take a first pit stop.
“Too bad they have a rule that you have to pit once or I would have probably stayed out,” joked Hantz, the eventual runner-up finisher. “No, I would have run out of gas. Our strategy was to take two tires and we kind of faded off behind Junior when I got behind him.”
Hantz was able to move directly behind Junior Hanley by lap 325 and for more than 30 laps he probed for chinks in the race leader with numerous attempts to pass.
Junior Hanley (#66) holds off Scott Hantz (#72) and eventually pulls away. (SSS Photo)
said Hanley. “Lucky for us he had to pit again. My pit crew did a real good job on our two pit stops and that was big.”
J.R. Roahrig posted a third place finish for the second consecutive season.
“Our car was a little tight in the center of the corner,” said Roahrig of South Bend, Ind. “It stayed that way and those were two better cars that beat me. I was hoping for some fireworks at the end. After four DNFs so far this season, it feels good to finish in a race like this. This driver is whipped right now.”
2001 winner Bull Baker placed fourth with Terry Fisher, Jr. taking the fifth position. Jim Crabtree Jr. and short track legend Mike Eddy completed the seven lead-lap finishers.
Eddy battled to the front of the field and was in contention throughout the race despite starting 18th on the grid. Late race handling problems slowed Eddy’s ultimate progress.
Junior Hanley’s first Sunoco Super Series win of the season propels him into the series points leadership. 2003 Anderson 400 winner Bobby Parsley ended his race after ignition failure developed on lap 144.
Another veteran, Mike Eddy, finished on the lead lap despite handling problems. (51 Photo)
The Sunoco Super Series resumes its 2004 season with the Goodyear 100 on Saturday, July 24 at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway.