ATTICA, Ohio – Dale Blaney exudes confidence. That spells trouble for the competition wherever he goes and that was very evident at Attica Raceway Park Friday during the Eric Phillips 26th Anniversary Classic Presented by American Powersports the and Tiffin Paper Company.
The Hartford, Ohio driver drove into the lead of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 410 Sprints feature at Attica Raceway Park Friday on lap two and after a close battle in lapped traffic, benefitted from a caution at the half way point and then cruised to his second win of the season at the Attica speedplant.
The victory is the 19th of Blaney’s career at Attica and moves him into fourth on the track’s all-time win list.
Defending track champion Craig Mintz came up short in his bid for a second consecutive victory at Attica, but he earned valuable points with his second place finish. Mintz is gunning to repeat as the Kistler Racing Products FAST (Fremont Attica Sprint Title) Championship Series titlist and take home its $10,000 year-end prize.
“My car has felt so good ever since we got home from Florida. I can put it anywhere that I want to. That testament comes back to George (Fisher, crew chief) and Tony (Kennedy, team owner) and Donnie and Skippy. They do the work on this thing during the week and I go home and work a little bit and come back and get to drive it. Those guys have made me look awful good,” said Blaney.
“A confident race car driver is tough to beat and right now I feel like we can deal with anybody at any time and that’s a good thing,” continued Blaney. “It was tough in lapped traffic. They were running up and down. I was circling the top in three and four but it was just so dirty up there following guys and I saw Craig (Mintz) inside of me in one and two. I knew where I wanted to go when we got rolling again (on the restart). I knew I better get to the top. I’ve gotten beat a couple of times running the middle and the bottom on restarts last year.”
In the 30-lap 410 sprint feature Mitch Harble and Chris Andrews would bring the field to the green with Blaney and Rob Chaney in row two. Harble would gain the advantage as Blaney slid into second. A pile-up involving Caleb Helms, Tim Shaffer and Travis Philo after a lap was recorded would put Blaney right on Harble’s rear bumper and when the green flew so did Blaney.
The four-time UNOH All Star champion would rocket around Harble for the lead while Andrews battled with Mintz for third with Sheldon Haudenschild, Chaney, Chad Kemenah, Christopher Bell and Byron Reed in tow.
Mintz would take third on lap three and drive around Harble for second a circuit later, bringing Andrews up to third. Blaney had built a comfortable lead until he caught the back of the pack by lap 10. This allowed Mintz to close as Andrews, Harble, Chaney, Bell, Haudenschild and Reed gave chase. The lapped cars were racing side by side in front of Blaney and Mintz was there as the pair raced side by side dicing through the lapped cars.
At the half-way point Brady Bacon took a tumble off turn four bringing the action to a halt. He was unhurt but the stoppage gave Blaney a clear track and that’s all he needed. When the green reappeared Blaney left the competition. His only close call was when he slipped off the cushion somewhat in turn four on lap 21 and glanced off the front stretch wall.
Meanwhile Mintz ran comfortably in second with a tremendous battle being waged for third. Bell would take the position on lap 18 after racing hard with Andrews with Chaney, Harble, Reed, Haudenschild and Kemenah close by. Blaney would catch lapped traffic again with seven circuits remaining but he got through easily to take the win over Mintz, Bell, Andrews and Haudenschild.
Wayne, Ohio’s Jeff Babcock used a lapped car as a pick to drive around Rusty Schlenk on lap 17 and then cruised to his third victory of the season in the Summit Racing Equipment UMP Late Models. The win is the seventh career victory for Babcock and moves him into fourth on the track’s all-time win list.
The Foster’s Auto Body 305 Sprint feature came down to the final corner on the final lap. Race-long leader Tyler Gunn jumped the cushion in turn four while being pressured by Jason Keckler and smacked the front stretch wall as Keckler drove by for his first career Attica win.