ATTICA, Ohio – After an edge-of-your-seat, race-long duel with Jeep VanWormer, Jon Henry was able to pull away on a couple of late race restarts to take the Sunoco American Late Model Series win at Attica Raceway Park on Friday night.
Not to be outdone, Brian Smith, a former Attica 305 sprint-car champion who runs on a shoe-string budget, passed Byron Reed and Dean Jacobs with seven laps to go and then survived a couple of late race restarts to upset the field for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 410 Sprint victory on a Kistler Racing Products FAST (Fremont Attica Sprint Title) Championship night.
When early race leader Paul Weaver suffered a flat tire, defending track champion Nate Dussel was there to pounce, driving around Dustin Dinan on a lap nine restart and cruised to his second win of the season in the Foster’s Auto Body 305 Sprints.
The 30-lap late model main featured a tremendous battle the entire distance between Henry, Brian Ruhlman, Jeep VanWormer and a charging Matt Miller who stormed from his 18th starting spot to be a contender at the end.
“I earned that one tonight. I tell you what, this is emotional for me. I have a lot of people supporting me and one individual in particular, Darrell Kirsch…I wanted to win one for him,” said Henry Beside his Mean 15 – individuals and businesses that sponsored his #15 this season. “It’s tough…I’ve been thinking about him and I’m thinking about Kent Robinson, a fellow racer who lost his dad today. I raced that race for them.”
Henry said it was “heart” that got him to victory lane.
“I just got up on the wheel and said I’m not letting this one slip away…I let the last one slip away, I’m racing my ass off,” he said. “You’d better be elbows up when Jeep’s around. I knew what I had to do to win this race and it was either wreck or win. I have to thank my dad, John; he busts his ass for me.”
In the 30-lap 410 sprint feature, Smith, who races with a very old engine and very little financial backing, used his familiar bottom groove to blast around Reed on a lap 21 restart to take second, and then drove around Dean Jacobs two laps later to take the lead. Smith had to keep cool on two restarts in the last five laps to score his second career 410 sprint feature win at Attica.
“They finally put a cushion up on top to get them yahoos out of my way so I could run my groove,” said Smith, who exited his car and promptly dove in a mud puddle to do ‘snow angels’ in front of the boisterous crowd. “I talked to Brian Kemenah (a five time All Star Circuit of Champions Crew Chief of the Year) yesterday out at Kistlers and we made some decisions on stuff we needed to do with the race car and guess what…he was right.”
“I’ve raced with them guys (Byron Reed and Craig Mintz) long enough to feel like I belong there sometimes and I’m so grateful God was there. I was praying as hard as I’ve ever prayed in my life and when the caution came out with five to go. I was just fortunate he let me win,” continued Smith.
“I got inside of Byron and then we came off of two and he lifted the front wheels when he picked the throttle back up, so I knew under the caution when we came back down for the green if I could take off real late his car would probably lift up and give me a little bit of a break,” added Smith.
In the 305 sprint feature, once he got into the lead on lap 10, Nate Dussel was never challenged for the win, his seventh at Attica.
“Anyone could have driven this thing tonight it was so damn fast. It’s pretty awesome to be climbing the win list. A lot of the guys I’m passing..I sat in these stands and watch them. Never thought there’d be a day when I’d sit this horse track. This one isn’t about me. These guys had this car unbelievable. It was out for a Sunday cruise,” said Dussel.