PUNTA GORDA, Fla. – Defending BG Products Southern Sprint Car Shootout Series champion Troy DeCaire won a hard-fought event Saturday night at 417 Speedway.
In the process, he snapped a seven-month-long winless streak. DeCaire fought off late race challenges from John Inman and Daniel Miller en route to the victory.
DeCaire started in ninth position and wasted no time working his way to the front quickly once the green flag dropped. After only 10 laps DeCaire quickly found himself in second place and began to set sail for early leader Shane Butler.
DeCaire was able to power past Butler on lap 13 and appeared as if he would cruise the rest of the way, well clear of a furious battle for second place being waged by Miller, Inman, and Joey Aguilar at that point.
With 10 laps to go, Miller had caught DeCaire several times in lapped traffic, but was unable to make a pass for the lead.
The final caution of the evening waved on lap 36 and gave Miller the break he was looking for, putting him beside DeCaire on the double-file restart.
When the green flag waved for the final time, DeCaire took command of the event and left Miller and Inman to settle the battle for second. The duo ran side-by-side before making slight contact with each other on lap 38 entering turn one.
Inman then took over second position, leaving Miller to round out the top three in a strong performance.
In victory lane, a happy DeCaire was relieved to get the monkey off his back and find victory lane for the first time in SSSS competition since March, despite getting tied up with lapped cars late in the race.
“Sometimes being the first guy to them (lapped cars) isn’t always a benefit. It was no fault of their own. They were just racing hard,” said DeCaire. “I was a little too patient with lapped cars and looked up and saw he (Miller) was behind me. On that restart with four to go I was OK with it, because in clean air my car was so good. I felt at that point it was my race to lose.
“We’ve had four or five seconds since my last win. We haven’t had a bad year, but I really wanted this win bad tonight,” DeCaire added. “I tied Dave Steele for the most wins in series history, too, and that means a lot because he was a hero of mine.”
1. Troy DeCaire (36)
2. John Inman (59x)
3. Daniel Miller (5)
4. Joey Aguilar (11)
5. Sport Allen (88a)
6. Mike Tharp (J1)
7. Tommy Nichols (55)
8. Travis Bliemeister (4)
9. Stan Butler (1)
10. Gary Wiggins (44)
11. Ryan Adema (92)
12. Shane Butler (555)
13. Albert Ferianc (83)
14. Mickey Kemgens (5s)