OSKALOOSA, Iowa — Shane Stewart topped a three-way battle for the lead with two laps to go to come out on top in the $20,000 to win 22nd annual Price Chopper Front Row Challenge presented by Musco Lighting and Searsboro Telephone Co. Monday night at Southern Iowa Speedway.
It was Stewart’s first appearance at the event in six years and he made it pay off big time in the 30-lap feature aboard the Larson-Marks No. 2.
Stewart grabbed the lead in the main event, ahead of Daryn Pittman and Brad Sweet. Pittman, a three-time winner of the Front Row Challenge, shot to the point on the second lap, and pulled away a bit, while Stewart’s car was smoking profusely. Sweet followed into the second spot on lap four.
Fifth-running Ian Madsen came to a stop with four laps down, bringing the only caution of the event.
Pittman led Sweet, Stewart, Brian Brown and Carson Macedo back to green-flag racing. Sweet dived front of Pittman in turn one on the restart and repeated the move a lap later, only to have his Kasey Kahne Racing teammate drive back by him. As the leaders entered lapped traffic on lap 10, Sweet would gain the lead in turn two, to become the third leader.
At the halfway point, Sweet was pulling away, but all eyes were on Kyle Larson, who was up to sixth. On lap 18, he took fifth and a circuit later, he grabbed fourth from Brown. On lap 20, Stewart would gain traction again, passing Pittman for second. Larson used the low side to gain third from Pittman on lap 24.
Both Stewart and Larson would close on Sweet, who was in lapped traffic. With two laps to go, all three made bids for the lead in turn two, with each holding it if only for a split second. With the crowd on its feet, Stewart gained the point and pulled away, with Sweet and Larson following him to the finish.
Pittman finished fourth, while Chad Kemenah earned a KSE steering gear for his run into fifth.
Sweet emerged victorious, taking $1,000 and the pole in the first DeBerg Concrete Keith Hutton Memorial “King of the Hill Max.” Sweet topped two four car two-lap showdowns to earn his cash.
Pittman earned $500 from Country Builders Construction for setting quick time. Heat winners Cory Eliason, Kaeding, Stewart and Austin McCarl earned $500 bonuses from Country Builders Construction, Seafoam Motor Treatment, Superflow Dynamometers & Flowbenches and True Value of Oskaloosa.
Dusty Ballenger led the 15-lap distance in the Seafoam Motor Treatment IMCA Racesaver Sprint feature. The Harrisburg, South Dakota driver earned $1,000 for his win, thanks to a bonus from Badger Contracting for $250.
Shane Stewart, Brad Sweet, Kyle Larson, Daryn Pittman, Chad Kemenah, Carson Macedo, Brian Brown, James McFadden, Tim Kaeding, Jac Haudenschild, Jamie Veal, Cory Eliason, Paul McMahan, Austin McCarl, Lucas Wolfe, Trey Starks, Kyle Reinhardt, Chris Martin, Dominic Scelzi, Tim Shaffer, Tayler Malsam, Dustin Selvage, Don Droud Jr., Ian Madsen.
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