Dale Blaney likes slick smooth race tracks. He got just what he wanted at Fremont Speedway Saturday night, as he took home the $4,000 on Burkett Family Night.
"The Track That Action Built" paid tribute to the military men and women - America's heroes - during the Independence Day event, with special pre-race festivities. Saturday also marked the halfway mark of the season in the inaugural Kistler Racing Products Fremont Attica Sprint Title Championship Series which has a separate point fund for the 410 sprint drivers totaling over $50,000 in cash and contingency prizes. Both Fremont Speedway and Attica Raceway Park also have their own separate point funds. With his second place run Friday at Attica and a strong third place finish at Fremont Saturday, Gibsonburg's Craig Mintz has grabbed the FAST Championship Series point lead.
Blaney's victory wasn't easy as he had to work his way through the B-main which earned him a 10th starting spot in the A-main for the Fort Ball Pizza Palace 410 Sprints. He made a great move exiting turn four on lap 14 to get around both Craig Mintz and Chris Andrews to grab lead.
The 30-lap feature went non-stop after an initial caution on the start that sent Tim Shaffer to the tail and Rob Chaney and Bob Felmlee to the pits. Shaffer would storm his way through the pack to finish second.
"I love seeing the track this way. When my top wing gets back there (all the way to the rear of the car) at this place and most places that's when I'm usually grinning But, we've actually struggled here this season, usually we're pretty good. We had a good night. Had to run the B, but we got some more laps and made a few adjustments. That 83 (Shaffer) must have been pretty good he ended up second on the board. I don't know if it was good for him to go to the tail or not...it was good for us. We'll take it...we've been struggling," said Blaney beside his George Fisher Racing, Ti22 Performance backed sprint car.
"I was trying to run the bottom a little bit. My car was pretty decent anywhere, but they were starting to slip around a little bit. I just got a good run. If you sit back there you can kind of dictate where you go...you go where they don't go. I didn't hear anyone in traffic so I kind of took my time...maybe a little too patient. But George gives me a good car, especially when we come here," added Blaney in the Engine Pro Victory Lane. "I'm awful thankful for the Burkett family for putting on this race. Thankful for Fremont...glad everyone came out on the Fourth of July."
After a lap one caution in the Fremont Federal Credit Union 305 Sprints' A-main, the 25-lap feature went non-stop as well. Fremont's Paul Weaver held off several challenges from D.J. Foos after getting caught up in lapped traffic, and went on to score his 23rd career Fremont victory to move him into a tie with Jim Fleming for 17th on the all-time win list.
"I came up on Bobby (Clark, to put him a lap down) and I don't know if he was just taking it easy because got to the tail there and didn't want to over do it, but it seemed like everywhere I went he went. He didn't do anything wrong, I just went the wrong way," said Weaver beside his Genzman Enterprises, Level Performance, M&L Excavating, Ludwig Propane backed #1W.
Weaver utilized the high line throughout the feature while most of the field stuck to the bottom.
"You'd have to pave the bottom for me to go down there," joked Weaver in the Engine Pro Victory Lane. "I've got to thank Dee Genzman... if it weren't for him I wouldn't be out here. My wife, even though I couldn't run her set-up because it was a totally different track from the last time, but I have to thank her for supporting me."
After an initial yellow to start the Fremont Fence Dirt Truck feature, only one other caution would fly in the 20-lap affair. The main featured side-by-side racing throughout the top six spots, and when the dust settled 2007 track champion Cory Ward of Sandusky, Ohio, would get his third victory of the year and his 16th career win, just one behind his dad, Jim's career total.
Just like the 305 sprint feature, Ward knew if he was going to win he had to move up on the track.
"When Dible (Bob) got by me I just started to follow him and I didn't like the bottom at all. I decided on that restart (on lap 12) I was going to run outside and hopefully it would work out and it did. Three and four was killing me but the middle of one and two I was getting a lot of bite," said Ward beside his Budweiser, Eastside Cafe, T.J. Hosang Construction, Jim's Auto Salvage, Precision Auto Body backed truck.
"I'm one behind dad now in wins and we've got plenty of time. I've got three wins here and my next best finish is 11th so it's been back and forth," added Ward in the Engine Pro Victory Lane.
Chris Andrews looked to make it a weekend FAST sweep at the start of the feature, coming off his win at Attica, as he grabbed the lead with Phil Gressman right on his bumper and Craig Mintz and Brandon Wimmer in tow. Gressman would continue to put pressure on Andrews who used the middle of the track while Gressman stuck to the bottom. Mintz was starting to make some noise using the extreme high line of the track as he raced Gressman hard for second. Mintz would take the runner-up spot on lap 12 and would pressure Andrews for the lead. All eyes were on 10th starter Blaney who had worked his way to fifth in just two laps, grabbed fourth on lap seven and third on lap 12.
Blaney would dive under both Mintz and Andrews exiting turn four coming down to complete the 14th lap to take the lead. While Blaney pulled away despite hitting lapped traffic at the halfway mark, Andrews, Mintz and Gressman put on a tremendous battle for second, trading slide-job after slide-job. Gressman would wrestle away the second spot on lap 18, only to see Mintz slide by on lap 20.
It was hard to take your eyes off that battle for second as Blaney picked his way through lapped traffic, but the fans couldn't help but notice the charge Tim Shaffer was mounting from the rear after being collected in an opening lap crash. The current O'Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions point leader was in fifth place by lap 23, grabbed fourth a lap later and moved past Gressman into third on lap 25. Shaffer would drive under Mintz for second on lap 27, but ran out of time to catch Blaney who held a half track advantage.
Blaney would flash under the checkered ahead of Shaffer, Mintz, Andrews and Gressman.
Weaver, utilizing the extreme high line, would bolt into the lead from his fourth starting spot at the drop of the green of the 305 sprint main while D.J. Foos, Shawn Valenti and Kevin Lee would wage a great battle behind for second. Once Foos was able to fend off Valenti, he set his sights on Weaver. Weaver was able to pull away slightly until lap 13 when he caught the rear of the field. While he struggled with lapped traffic, Foos was able to close, and by lap 15 was pulling under Weaver exiting turn four as the pair raced side-by-side the next five laps. Behind them Valenti and Todd Heuerman waged a torrid battle for third.
Once Weaver was able to get around Bobby Clark, he would pull away slightly and go on to the win while Foos, Heuerman, Valenti and Steve Rando would round out the top five.
Rookie Cory Tappel would lead the field to the green in the 20-lap dirt truck main with Loren Schwochow, Ward and Jimmy McGrath in tow. Ward would drive into the lead on lap three, bringing McGrath into second and Schwochow to third. Schwochow would grabbed the lead when Ward slipped up on lap four, bringing 7th place starter Bob Dible into second while Ward ran third and McGrath fourth. Dible would drive under Schwochow for the lead on lap six and Ward would take second on lap 8 while Steve Endicott was on the move from his 10th starting spot into third. Tappel would bring out the yellow on lap 12 with the running order Dible, Ward, McGrath, Endicott, Schwochow and Dan Hennig.
Ward would move to the outside on the restart and he and Dible raced door to door the next two laps before Ward would grab the lead on lap 14. Ward would not give up as he continued to race under Ward lap after lap. At the checkered, Ward would win by half a truck length over Dible while Endicott, McGrath and Henning would round out the top five.