The Hoosier Race Report: Last Lap Passes
Races won on the last lap are dramatic, to say the least. Fans should appreciate hotly contested races where guys race each other hard but clean, where guys respect and trust each other, and where no one can know who will lead the last lap. Surprises often abound in Hoosier bullring/sprint car racing. And so it was at the Putnamville Clash, 26th edition on Saturday night at the Lincoln Park Speedway. Just when one thought that this race would go to 2012 Clash winner Shane Cottle, Chad Boespflug made the pass on the last lap to take home the trophy, the money and, maybe most of all, the prestige of beating one of the best.
For reasons too numerous to even guess, 20 sprints settled into the pits at LPS on a relatively cool evening. The quantity may not have been present, but quality surely was with several potential winners among the 20.
Mr. Cottle was surely one of those as he took the lead from Jeff Bland Jr. on a late re-start in the first heat and won. Dave Darland also got around Bland to take second. Wes McIntyre was fourth with Brian Karrkher, John Nicosen and Jimmy Romig trailing.
Ryan Pace won the second heat as Mr. Boespflug patiently worked his way forward to take second after starting sixth. Brady Short was third with pole sitter Blake Fitzpatrick fourth. Bradley Sterrett, Brandon Mattox and Seth Parker brought up the rear.
Jon Stanbrough led early in the third heat and nearly tipped it over in turn two, losing the lead to young Max McGhee. But the veteran regained his cool (if he even lost it) and came back to win on, yes, the last lap. Behind McGhee was Brent Beauchamp in third. Brian Hayden was fourth with Keeton Dobbs and Levi Shields ending up starting deep in the A Main lineup.
One of the best PA guys I’ve ever heard helped Brad Dickison with the feature lineup. So what if he’s nine years old. Conner Wade, Chuck Amati’s grandson, I do believe, outshone other announcers I’ve heard over the years.
Conner and Brad combined to tell us that Cottle and Pace were the front row for the 30 lap feature. Behind them were Stanbrough, Darland (a Hall of Fame row for sure), Boespflug, McGhee, Bland and Short.
Mayhem commenced early. A seven car pileup stopped matters on the first lap in turn two. It was LPS’s version of the Big One. Collected were McGhee, Hayden, Fitzpatrick, Karrakher, Dobbs, Mattox (who tipped over), and Shields. Hayden, Fitzpatrick and Karrakher re-started.
On the second try Cottle jumped out to the lead with Boespflug coming from fifth to second in one lap. Shane had his hands full and Boespflug passed for the lead on lap six.
Stanbrough had his hands full with a balky left front wheel, probably a broken shock. Funny, but the man raced with basically three wheels better than many with four. However, he gradually dropped back.
Boespflug and Cottle simply checked out from the rest of the pack. Behind Pace, Darland, Short and Beauchamp were all itching to get around the 44. By the halfway mark the two leaders had a half lap lead on Darland, who passed Pace right around lap 12. Short and Beauchamp assumed fourth and fifth spots, chasing Dave the Rave in his new non-USAC Stensland-owned ride.
Lapped traffic played a role as Boespflug first built, then lost a good sized lead over Cottle. But Stanbrough’s car finally gave out and the yellow waved on lap 24 when Jon stopped in turn four, his night done after a hard fought win at Bloomington the night before. The stage was set.
The re-start would be Boespflug, Cottle, Darland, Short, Beauchamp and McIntyre, the only cars on the lead lap. As the green waved Cottle got a good jump and took the lead and promptly began using Boespflug’s high line. But the California native with strong Hoosier roots didn’t give up. He stayed close to the leader and made his move diving around the Epperson 2 going down the backstretch and making it stick through turns three and four. Just as he may have surprised Boespflug when he took the lead, Cottle may have received his own surprise at that point. Either way, neither had anything to be ashamed of; both raced hard and that’s all that anyone can wish to see.
Darland had a much better run than the night before at Gas City, taking third. Short racked up yet another top five finish with a fourth. WesMac got around Beauchamp near the end to take fifth. Pace was seventh and Seth Parker came from 20th to grab hard charger honors and end up eighth. Fitzpatrick came from near disaster on the first lap to finish ninth and Bradley Sterrett rounded out the top ten.
Chad and Shane reminded me (and anyone else who was there) to never, ever leave before the last lap (barring extreme emergency, of course). You never can know what you miss.
Burning Anthony Weiner’s camera, I’m…