EPPING, N.H. – The only thing that could have kept Jon McKennedy from winning the Star Classic Saturday night at Star Speedway was the possible rain looming in the distance.
But the weather held off and McKennedy, who had diced back and forth with Rob Summers for the lead for much of the 150 lapper until Summers’ demise on lap 105, took off to lap most of the remaining field by race end. His victory in the 48th running of the prestigious Classic was the biggest of his career. McKennedy, after numerous modified achievements, had chosen to run ISMA full time in 2013 and the decision gave him one of the most rewarding wins of his life.
“It feels good to finally win the Classic,” McKennedy said. “This race brings some of the best drivers around and to say I won one is awesome. I’ve been so close at times. I think I finished second twice and I never could get the win and tonight I finally did. Those last 30 laps seemed like 200 laps. I couldn’t wait for it to get over. The car ran really good. We got fast time today. At the beginning of the race we were a little tight. Robbie caught me off guard there when he got behind me in traffic. But when I got back in clean air the car was just awesome.”
The top sixteen cars were locked in via time trials with the top 12 of those handicapped using the ISMA money won system. McKennedy set a torrid 11.015 lap, with Jeff Locke second fastest with an 11.197. Lou Cicconi (11.22), Ben Seitz (11.288) and Chris Perley (11.370) in the top five. A ten car consi was slated to fill the 22-car starting field (with two options available), when the threat of rain changed plans.
The consi was scrapped and the remainder of the field filled by time trials. Several cars, the No. 2 of Emhoff and the No. 94 of Rayvals scratched from the line-up leaving 25 cars to take the green.
Joey Payne and McKennedy led the way to green with Payne taking the early shift at the point, but McKennedy grabbed the lead on lap six and began his onslaught of the field by lapping his first car before lap 10 on the small New England bullring.
Moving quickly up to challenge McKennedy however was Summers with Cicconi, Payne and Perley staying well in sight. Summers stuck his No. 74 on the No. 79 bumper by lap 30 and each lap saw Summers try McKennedy high and low with success coming on lap 35.
The first yellow flag flew one lap later as the leaders were entering a pack of cars and McKennedy slowed trying to get around a slower car. Summers pushed high, Cicconi, trying not to hit McKennedy, was hit in the rear by his teammate Perley, with Perley taking a hard left into the infield.