Spoon River Speedway flagger DJ Adams waived the green flag; two laps to go for race leader Cade Dillard. Just three-quarters of a mile away from his first DIRTcar Summer Nationals victory. And then, caution.
Dillard and his S&S Fishing & Rental/Black Diamond Race Cars #97 slowed significantly coming out of Turn 4 and pulled to the infield, done for the race. He and crew chief Donnie Pederson took a look underneath the car and saw the broken drive shaft yoke that caused the loss of power to the rear wheels; their hopes of a first career Hell Tour victory now dashed.
The Robeline, LA-driver led 37 consecutive laps before the breakdown and was maintaining a near one-second advantage over second-place Tanner English, but ultimately came up just two laps short of the $5,000 grand prize.
“Around the five-to-go area, Donnie was telling me I had a decent little lead and we were pulling away,” Dillard said. “Right before I broke, I got comfortable and just made sure to hit my marks, and figured as long as I didn’t mess up, it was ours.
“It just wasn’t meant to be.”
This handed the lead over to English, who encountered a fierce challenge to his outside from a high-flying Bobby Pierce in the final two laps, but held on for his third career Summer Nationals victory.
“I thought [Dillard] thought the race was over, I didn’t really know,” English recalled when he saw the #97 slowing. “I saw the green flag come out, and that meant two-to-go, and then he pulled down. I didn’t know what had happened.
“I just hate it for him, because I’ve been there.”
Dillard was in the midst of turning around a train of bad luck in his first two Summer Nationals starts this week – which consisted of a DNQ and an 18th-place run Wednesday at Adams County Speedway – qualifying quickest in his group, then winning his Heat Race and redrawing the outside pole for the Feature. He and the team worked hard, and though it didn’t end how they envisioned, they were proud of the efforts they made to get there.
“It’s just me and Donnie, and we’re working hard,” Dillard said. “I know it’s a lot of miles no matter where I go race. It’s a lot of work and a lot of time away from home. To be able to put yourself in position to win these things is good because they’re hard to come by.”
“To let one slip away from me like that is tough, but we’ll keep working hard and try and put ourselves in position.”
English celebrated in Summer Nationals Victory Lane for the first time since his win at Tri-City Speedway last year after a charge from 10th on the starting grid. He made crucial, quick passes toward the end of the race that set him up to be in position when Dillard broke at the end and get the win.
“I had to go where they weren’t; they were kinda all over the place,” English said of his late passes for position. “Some were on the top, some were on the bottom. A lot of times, if they were on the bottom, I just had to wait for them to make a mistake and I could take advantage of it.”
After starting fourth, Pierce came back from as deep as seventh at one point to finish second. The Oakwood, IL-driver was able to make the top groove work in the closing laps, and nearly stole the win out of Turn 4 coming to the checkered, crossing the stripe just .159-seconds after English.
Max Blair, of Centerville, PA, crossed in third for the third-straight time this week. Ryan Unzicker was fourth, and Brian Shirley completed the top-five.
The DIRTcar Summer Nationals clashes with the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series in the two-day St. Louis Firecracker Faceoff Friday-Saturday, June 24-25, at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55. If you can’t be at the track, watch every lap live on DIRTVision.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)
Feature 40 Laps | 00:20:15.965
1. 81E-Tanner English; 2. 32-Bobby Pierce; 3. 111V-Max Blair; 4. 24-Ryan Unzicker; 5. 3S-Brian Shirley; 6. 25-Jason Feger; 7. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 8. 36-Logan Martin; 9. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 10. 86-Kyle Beard; 11. F1- Payton Freeman; 12. 18-Shannon Babb; 13. 44-Blaze Burwell; 14. 14G-Joe Godsey; 15. 26M-Brent McKinnon; 16. 77-Preston Luckman; 17. 0-Deshawn Gingerich; 18. 97-Cade Dillard; 19. 14R-Jeff Roth; 20. 30-Mark Voigt; 21. 15-Justin Duty; 22. 80-Rich Dawson
PLAY DEEP: Hoffman Charges from Ninth to win Seventh-Straight at Spoon River
A tough field of local cars, regional invaders, and a season-low ninth-place starting spot. Nothing was going to get in Nick Hoffman’s way of a seventh-straight DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals victory Thursday night at Spoon River Speedway.
After qualifying fourth in his group and running third in his Heat Race, Hoffman found himself in the deepest hole he’d been in so far on the Hell Tour, with a ninth-place starting spot for the 25-lap Feature.
The green flag dropped and polesitter Will Krup took off, opening up a nice advantage on the field that stretched to over 1.5 seconds at one point. By Lap 4, Hoffman had already taken sixth. By Lap 10, he was fifth. With six laps remaining, he was just .7 seconds behind Krup and closing fast.
“Once I got to fifth and saw Tyler [Nicely] and those guys in front of me, they were only about a half-straightaway out… I was like, ‘man, I think I can get this done if I just clear these lapped cars the way I need to,’” Hoffman said.
“Once I got past Nicely, that put me into third behind Allen and Will [Krup], the track was just getting slicker and slower, which was coming to me and going away from them.”
With a look to the inside when Krup pushed up the track slightly, Hoffman zoomed past Krup for the lead coming to two-to-go and took it to the checkers for his seventh Feature win in seven starts.
“I told [Krup] before the race, I said, ‘Plan on seeing me,’” Hoffman said lightheartedly. “I told him at the time, I was just kinda screwing with him, ‘You’ll probably see me around Lap 10.’ Saying I was going to pass a car a lap, and I knew that wasn’t gonna be the case.”
Krup said he had no idea Hoffman was closing until Hoffman poked his nose underneath to try and make the pass. Some lapped traffic impeded his line in the final laps, and he was unable to get back at Hoffman as he drove away with the win.
“I couldn’t really see my stick guy down there in Turn 3,” Krup said, recalling leading the field around in the later stages of the race. “It was dusty enough in the lights and I couldn’t quite see him. I didn’t really know what kind of lead I had the whole race, but I knew the laps were coming down.”
The Summit Modifieds join the card in the inaugural St. Louis Firecracker Faceoff Friday-Saturday, June 24-25, racing alongside the DIRTcar Summer Nationals Late Models vs. World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series clash, and the Xtreme Outlaw Sprint Car Series presented by Low-E Insulation.
If you can’t be at the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)
Feature 25 Laps | 00:06:51.163
1. 2-Nick Hoffman; 2. K9-Will Krup; 3. 25-Tyler Nicely; 4. 05-Dave Wietholder; 5. 292-Josh Allen; 6. 36-Kenny Wallace; 7. 12L-Lucas Lee; 8. 8-Kyle Steffens; 9. 31-Mark Anderson; 10. 10K-Kelly Kovski; 11. 96M-Mike McKinney; 12. 130-Chase Allen; 13. 3-Mike Brooks; 14. 35-Brandon Roberts; 15. 77-Ray Bollinger; 16. 242-Brandon Bollinger; 17. 08-Michael Claeys; 18. 87-Blake Woodruff; 19. 99B-Brandyn Ryan; 20. 69- Derek Roberts; 21. 54-Zachary Hawk; 22. 20-Brian Kidder; 23. (DNS) 777-Trevor Neville
DIRTcar Series PR