Ohio The old adage Being lucky is better than being good was applied to
Saturday two-race Buckeye Nationals finale at Eldora Speedway, and Matt
Westfall was on the right end.
Westfall, in the No. 54 Westfall
Motorsports Bordner Welding/E&E Machine & Tool F-5/Claxton, became the fourth
driver in 2006 to win his first career USAC National Sprint Car Series feature event,
leading the final two laps of the 30-lap feature.
Rob Chaney, seeking his fourth victory in
five series races at the half mile, was in position to score that victory when he hit the
Turn 2 wall on the white flag lap, handing the lead back over to Westfall, who had led the
first 20 laps.
"It's pretty cool to get our first career
victory at Eldora," Westfall said. "We've run well here before, but we've just
had a lot of bad luck. I just knew when I got the lead back, I had to keep the thing
straight and not do anything out of the ordinary."
Westfall took command on the start - which
was delayed twice by incidents - going into Turn 1 after pass Brian Clauson, and
began his initial dominance. He led the 24-car field around the outside of the slick
track, never faltering in the opening laps as cars behind him lined up single file.
Clauson, Chaney and Mat Neely did their best early to allow Westfall the opportunity to
pull away. The four battled for the second spot amidst the nearly one-groove track, with
Gaines taking second on Lap 1.
Chaney, who sat
fourth, let the track come to him before his car gained life. On Lap 13, Chaney took
advantage of a wiggle by Clauson in Turn 2 to pull alongside on the backstretch and sail
past. However, he pounded the Turn 4 wall hard, which may have caused the last lap
incident. However, he did not relinquish third.
Chaney began to
work to get past Dickie Gaines on Lap 14, but the two found it easier to work together
first to catch Westfall, who was lapping slower cars. The trio sat right in a row on Lap
17 before Chaney made his pass on Gaines.
No sooner did
Chaney take second than Gaines found himself flipping wildly in the air, bringing out the
second red flag of the night after tumbling in midair before coming to rest on the
backstretch. He climbed out of his car under his own power.
resumed, Westfall did his best to keep Chaney behind and it worked for a couple of
laps. Westfall got a two-car length jump, and when Chaney came up short on a pass attempt
in Turn 2, Westfall established a larger lead.
But Chaney finally
made what he though would be the winning pass, diamonding off Turn 2 and speeding past
Westfall on Lap 21. The lead, at that point, was not in jeopardy. By Lap 26, Chaney had a
straightaway lead, while Westfall tried to shake Neely, who had moved up to third. The
pair looked like it was ready to fill out the podium.
didnt happen. Chaneys car slipped up into the Turn 2 wall on what was then the
final lap, damaging the car beyond repair. He finished 15th.
With Chaney out, Westfall assumed the
point, but Neely has right on his heels. Both drivers got a good start on what was
reverted by to Lap 29, and Neely made his attempt right away at the entrance of Turn 1.
But the outside groove was the place to go,
and without much bite, Neelys attempt ended up being just that. He returned to the
top side when he fended off point leader Josh Wise and Jon Stanbrough, who had taken Top 5
positions just laps earlier.
By that point, Westfall was running away,
and was holding a marginal lead. He crossed under the checkered flags with ease, with
Neely, Wise, Stanbrough and Clauson filling in the Top 5 positions.
the crowd first for their support and acknowledged the efforts of his crew.
thank the fans enough, Westfall said. I have a lot of local supporters here
tonight. It was all Chaneys race. But my crew gave me a great car, which helped us
out when we needed it.
Neely claimed the two-race Buckeye
Fridays USAC Silver Crown Series
presented by K&N Engineering winner Bud Kaeding won the first eight-lap heat race, and
was followed by Jerry Coons Jr., Chaney and Drake as subsequent victors. Wise, who
extended his point lead to 35 to new second-place runner Neely, set the nights fast
time at 15.505 seconds. Westfall won the 12-lap semifeature.Gainess flip wasnt
the only driver to end his night upside down. On the second start of the feature
the first nixed after Dave Darland and Scotty Weir spun in Turn 1 Tony Elliott and
Jerry Coons Jr. tangled, with Elliott flipping as the pair crossed under the green flag.
Both drivers retired from the event, and a third car involved that of Darren
Hagens resumed after light damage to the front of his car.
Kyle Stuchell was
transported to Coldwater (Ohio) Hospital after flipping in qualifications.