BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — With a flag-to-flag romp, Bobby East won the Larry Rice Classic for his first USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series victory of the year at Bloomington Speedway Friday.
East took advantage of pole starting slot and dialed up a flawless 30-lap run as Shane Cottle finished second, followed by Brady Bacon, Chase Stockon and Tracy Hines.
“This is huge. We’ve had a rough start. We’ve really turned it around the past couple of weeks,” East allowed afterward. The win was also his first since picking up the ride in Scott Benic’s No. 2b Champion Racing Oil Maxim.
East nosed ahead of Cottle early in the first lap, but Cottle fought back around the top groove. For the first dozen laps, the two ran wheel to wheel with East repeatedly pulling ahead off turn four, and Cottle scrapping back to challenge again. Eventually Cottle wasn’t able to keep up the pace and began to slip back, working different areas of the track.
“The top started getting way out there and it started slickening off and one and two was a little rough, but there wasn’t a cushion that you could run on, so you had to kind of tip-toe through there. It was a pretty good race there through the first half of it,” Cottle admitted.
East quickly built a straightaway lead before he began to catch slower cars. Wheeling the Epperson Painting No. 2e Spike, Cottle found himself caught up in another battle, as fast qualifier Bacon, Stockon, Jerry Coons Jr., Hines and Levi Jones squabbled over top-five positions.
As the track changed, Coons slipped back as series point leader Jon Stanbrough worked his way up from a ninth starting spot. With just one caution, East worked lapped cars masterfully and wasn’t challenged as he built a 3.5-second lead at one point. He held a straightaway advantage over Cottle at the checkers.
“Scott read the track throughout the night and it was really looking like this race was going to be won on the bottom,” East said after the victory ceremonies. “It would stick to the bottom and roll through the corner really good. The major key tonight was qualifying decent and transferring through the heat to put us in that starting spot.”
“I’m never satisfied with second, but it’s good,” Cottle added later. “We’ve had two seconds now with the team and if we keep staying up there we’re going to get some wins. The car’s been really fast. I abused the tire and late in the race it got real loose and it let Bobby get out on me. It was just one of those things.”
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