YORK HAVEN, Pa. — James McFadden continued his strong season at the wheel of Kasey Kahne’s No. 9 sprint car with a victory in the Collision Kevin Gobrecht Classic Thursday at BAPS Motor Speedway.
The victory in Thursday’s race was particularly special for McFadden, who never got a chance to race with the late Kevin Gobrecht, but his crew did, and this was the perfect way to honor the Gobrecht family and his team.
“It’s been fun, mate,” said McFadden of his recent success. “It’s an honor to win this race, Kevin’s race. I never got to see him race, but obviously, a hell of a racer, and to win his race is really cool.”
McFadden started second and beat Danny Dietrich off the cushion in turn two. Third-place Gio Scelzi dove to the bottom off the corner and also slipped past Dietrich to take over the runner-up spot.
The first caution of the event came on lap four, when Jared Esh and Chase Dietz got hooked together in turn one. McFadden blasted out front on the restart, with Scelzi in tow. Eliason and Brock Zearfoss swapped the third position multiple times through the corner over the next two circuits.
McFadden had a close call in traffic on lap 11. The Aussie got sideways on the bottom of turn four after making slight contact while trying to lap Ryan Linder.
“I watched the lapped car the lap before run right around the gutter,” McFadden said. “I thought he was going to do the same thing, and I tried to run off his right rear because there was a big moisture strip through the middle.
“I didn’t want anything to do with the cushion out of four, and I kind of tried to run on his right rear. He just moved up a bit, which was no fault of his own, and I was kind of there. It’s lucky he was there, because I got into the side of him, and it bounced me back straight. We got lucky, so I slowed down when we got to traffic.”
The incident didn’t slow McFadden’s pace. He increased his lead to 1.410 seconds by the halfway point and was able to maintain a one-second advantage through lapped traffic on lap 17.
Zearfoss entered the picture on lap 18, when he made a daring low move through turns three and four to pass the lapped car of Greg Plank and Scelzi for the runner-up spot. He closed the gap to .963 seconds on lap 18 and got a shot at the leader on a lap 23 restart, when Danny Dietrich got upside down while running sixth.
But, McFadden was too much on the restart. He rode the cushion and opened up a 10 car-length lead by the time the next lap was scored.
“For three laps, I would go hard and try to pull a gap,” McFadden said. “Then, I would ease off because there were seven laps, and I didn’t want to catch traffic.
“I just tried to hit my marks. I hate double-file restarts. I reckon they can get rid of them, and I would be happy. It’s too much decision making … I have enough on my plate as it is.”
The final restart of the night occurred on lap 24 after Scelzi hit the fence between the first and second corner. Like the previous stoppage, McFadden was able to pull away out of Turn 2 and down the backstretch on the restart.
McFadden pushed the car as hard as he had to over the final six circuits and took the win. It was his third in his last four starts, as he won two-of-three All Star Circuit of Champions events last weekend.
Zearfoss came from sixth to second in the final rundown. Eliason won a tight battle with Ryan Smith for fourth, and J.J. Grasso came from 16th to fifth.
Steve Ownings raced from sixth on the grid to win the 25-lap 358 sprint car feature.
Feature (30 Laps): 1. 9-James McFadden, ; 2. 70-Brock Zearfoss, ; 3. 26-Cory Eliason, ; 4. 72-Ryan Smith, ; 5. 37-J.J. Grasso, ; 6. 44-Trey Starks, ; 7. 91R-Kyle Reinhardt, ; 8. 99M-Kyle Moody, ; 9. 8-Billy Dietrich, ; 10. 21-Brian Montieth, ; 11. W20-Greg Wilson, ; 12. 73B-Brett Michalski, ; 13. 4-Dwight Leppo, ; 14. 75-Chase Dietz, ; 15. 9L-Ryan Linder, ; 16. 11P-Greg Plank, ; 17. (DNF) 39M-Anthony Macri, ; 18. (DNF) 71-Giovanni Scelzi, ; 19. (DNF) 48-Danny Dietrich, ; 20. (DNF) 99G-George Riden III, ; 21. (DNF) 91-Anthony Fiore, ; 22. (DNF) 97-Brie Hershey, ; 23. (DNF) 33-Jared Esh, ; (DNS) 24-Lucas Wolfe