Brian Campbell knew he had his work cut out for him on the final restart of the Asphalt Wars 100. He was running second behind veteran Scott Hantz at Baer Field Speedway in Indiana, a place where Hantz has five career wins. But a rare slip-up by Hantz changed the face of the event in Campbell’s favor with just six laps remaining.
Going into turns three and four, Campbell closed to the back bumper of the white number 72 of Hantz, In a flash of an eye, the 72 skated up the race track, giving Campbell the top spot for the first time with just a few laps remaining. There was no doubt about it after that as Campbell wheeled away from Hantz and drove the Perfect Circle Race Cars machine to the checkered flag.
"I knew I was going to catch him, but passing him was another story," said Campbell. "I know Scott doesn't make many mistakes so when I saw him go up the banking I had to go or there was not going to be another opportunity. It was like the sea just parted for me."
Hantz had been in the lead since lap 34 and was in position for what looked like another victory, but the pressure from Campbell had Hantz driving just a little harder than he had been.
"I got my front brakes a little too hot and I was experiencing a little brake fade there with too much rear brake in the car," said Hantz. "I got into three and I went in a little hot, and it was my race too lose and I lost it for me."
Hantz hung on for second, 1.4 seconds back behind Campbell with a hard charging Jeff Lane in third followed by Derrick Griffin and pole sitter Terry Fisher, Jr., who led early before Hantz got around him.
"We would have loved to win here in front of the hometown crowd,” said Fisher who is from nearby Ossian, IN. “The car was a little tight and we put some rear brake in to solve that. It's hard to beat Scott Hantz here at Baer Field. We were leading and we had a good run. I burned the right front off and I was just hanging on after that."
Fisher has been racing at Baer Field for many years, but like for race winner Campbell, success takes time at a tricky track.
"We came here the first time and I was the slowest car on the track," added Campbell. "We got better every time we came back and I have had a handful of second-place finishes here in other divisions, but today we're number one."
Campbell bases a lot of how he does on the track compared to his dad, legendary Midwestern Late Model racer Freddie Campbell. Now both he and his father have won at the Fort Wayne track.
"My dad has won here and now I have," said Campbell. "So it's off the bucket list and now we can go on. My dad's my hero and we have each won here so it's special."
Championship Jinx for VanDoorn
When you win a championship, all the stars have to line up just right. You get through the wrecks, spins, the trouble and have good runs that accumulate enough to earn you the right as the overall points champion. After two years of running front in the CRA Super Series standings, Johnny VanDoorn finds himself in a huge hole without much more than a fork as his shovel in 2011.
An engine failure at Anderson and a broken rocker arm in practice at Baer Field looked to be the last of the troubles. Rolling out on the grid for the 100 lapper at Baer Field found the bug providing one more sting as the transmission broke.
"It's a big hole," said VanDoorn. "We'll take it one race at a time."
From our count there will be at least 15 drivers in front of him in the standings. Still very possible, but he's used up his mulligans early.
Bickle Bounce Back
Rich Bickle, the five-time Snowball Derby Champion, has been having fun running tracks around the Midwest the last few years. In fact he went to Berlin Raceway for last year's Rowdy's Revenge, but did not make the show. On Sunday at Baer Field he had his strongest run yet in a CRA Super Late Model as he battled in the top 10 all day before coming home seventh.
CRA Community Races With a Heavy Heart at Baer Field
William Mefford, a member of the CRA racing family was killed in a crash at Anderson Speedway (IN) on Saturday night. Just about all of the officials with CRA and the drivers felt the impact of Mefford’s loss. One driver who was hit hard by it was Jeff Lane. Mefford was a long time friend and a spotter for Lane in previous seasons.
"We have talked about Willie all day," said an emotional Lane after the race. "It's been a tough night and on the track we had a great run with a car that was not 100%. Willie was one of my best friends and he got me into racing, I think we are still in shock and we'll have to see what the week brings."
Rookie War Stays Hot With New Contender
An impressive CRA rookie class features two champions from other touring series from the 2010 season. Mason Mingus won the Ken Ten Late Model championship, while Derrick Griffin won the Great Lakes Outlaw Late Model title. These two looked to be the odds-on favorites for the RoY title, but a new competitor has emerged.
David Carter had a strong run at Baer Field and even flirted with the win. The Ohio native started eighth and got all the way up to the third spot before fading in the late stages of the race. With these three drivers it should be a great rookie battle. All three have already posted top-six runs after only two events. Don't count out Matt Hall and Justin Alsip either, as they can be right in the mix with a good run too.
Former Champ Jeff Lane Out of the Gates Strong
In 2005, Jeff Lane rode two victories and 11 top-five finishes to the CRA Super Series Championship. Things might be shaping up for a repeat performance as Lane leads the standings after two events. Lane told CRA officials he didn't really think about running for the title, but the way CRA does their point fund allows teams to get money after each event. Now Lane might stick around to run the balance of the season.