HANOVER, Pa. – Usually, racing a car above a dirt track’s cushion is a tactic that spells disaster. However, Brad McClelland is not a typical driver.
Using a high line which defied the accumulation of mud above the racing groove, McClelland posted his final two passes of rivals on Friday night and claimed his fourth 358 sprint feature of the 2013 season at Trail-Way Speedway.
Following two straight rainouts at Trail-Way, McClelland notched his second straight triumph there to conclude a thrilling high-speed three-car duel for the lead over the race’s middle stages. Along the way, he found his car would travel in places which would put many 358 sprints in jeopardy.
The former National 410 Sprint Car Rookie of the Year said to the large crowd, “I was too loose on the bottom and I said, ‘Well, if I’m going to win it away, I’ll put it above the cushion.’ I said, ‘Man, that thing feels pretty good,’ so we stood on the gas a little bit.”
That tactic paid off with McClelland’s 31st career 358 sprint feature win as he pushed to regain the track points lead from Jeff Rohrbaugh, who placed fifth after he had to put with two laps down to replace a flat tire. By starting 11th among 18 cars, McClelland’s drive to the top spot also gave the Westminster, Md., driver the Hard Charger Award.
“You’ve got to run it hard,” McClelland said. “I told the (crew) guys, ‘These things will turn. Put in the corner and work pretty hard and it will go around as long as this thing is set up right.’”
Dwight Leppo led the first 13 laps and gamely attempted to hold back the charges of both Wagaman and McClelland, who used the outside line in the third and fourth corners to circle past Wagaman on the 13th lap for second place. One lap later, McClelland did the same thing against Leppo. From there, McClelland drove away to win by 3.68 seconds over Wagaman, who passed Leppo for second spot with six laps remaining. For Wagaman and Leppo, those finishes were the best of the season at Trail-Way.
McClelland, who trailed Rohrbaugh by two points entering the night, avoided the problems which struck two other top performers in the point standings. In addition to Rohrbaugh’s tire problem, Cris Eash opened the 25-lap feature at the first-turn fence when his car suddenly veered right while in the middle of traffic. Remarkably, no car hit Eash, whose No. 17E wound up nose-first against the wall.
However, because of another caution flag which eventually forced a single-file restart, Eash’s crew repaired the broken steering and he returned to eventually place fourth. Isaac Sneeringer took sixth ahead of Ryan Wilson, heat winner Randy Whisler, Austin Kirby and Bob Anderson. Kirby overcame a sixth-lap spin for his finish.