Anthony Danta’s late-model season debut at Grundy County Speedway on Friday couldn’t have been much better.
He was first-time fast, first-feature fantastic.
The Orland Park native proved to be the class of the 17-car field, turning the quickest qualifying lap and backing it up with a scintillating run in the 30-lap main.
Danta was able to chase down race-long leader Brandon Clubb and make the pass with six laps remaining. He pulled away during the final few laps to prevail at the end by 1.003 seconds over Larry Schuler.
“My car was really good, but I wanted to keep the fenders on it,” Danta said. “I just kind of took it, paced it out, and to be honest I didn’t realize that there were only that few laps left when I got by Brandon.
“I saw him down there in three and four slipping up a little, so I made my move there and he gave me a lane down into 1. We had a good four or five laps side by side. It was a good race.”
The winning pass came after a power show up front for several laps by Clubb. Then it became a three car under a blanket battle among Clubb, Danta and Schuler.
Once Danta was able to clear Clubb on lap 27, Schuler made his move into second place. Clubb was able to hold off Ricky Baker for third, while Mark Sontag and Eddie Hoffman completed the top six.
It was the second week in a row that Clubb dominated the field for many laps, only to have victory snatched away at the finish.
“I am not heartbroken by any means,” Clubb said. “What can I say? Look who finished in front of me, and look who finished around me. The best guys in the Midwest.
“My spotter was telling me, ‘Two (car-lengths) away, one away’, and then (Danta) was there. He got on the inside and I didn’t give him an inch. It was a good clean race. We may have touched once or twice, but it made for a good race. I’m good with that.”
Late-model heat winners were Billy Knippenberg and Scott Koerner.
Tom Knippenberg continued his dominance in the Mid-American division, easing by John Ventrello on lap 14 and blowing away the field in the 25-lap feature.
It was Knippenberg’s fourth main event win in six tries. He beat Ventrello to the finish line by 3.561 seconds. Matt Clemens was third, followed by Joe Vinachi, Luke Baldwin and Kevin Murphy.
Knippenberg and Vince Cooper took wins in the Mid-Am heats.
A wild street stock feature saw points leader Eddie Ligue come from the back to pass Craig Matteson on the final lap and claim his third win.
Ligue prevailed in a battle that saw Christy Penrod and John Senerchia both have shots at the leader and come up short. At the finish, Bob Davis was able to squeeze out second place ahead of Matteson and Senerchia.
Street stock heats went to Senerchia and Renee Farren.
Cirk Lindemuth became the seventh different winner in seven features in the pure stocks main. Danielle Dobczyk was a close second ahead of Zach Sontag, Spencer Leake and Dan Schmeissing.
Bryce Leake and James Gross won the heats.
Fast Time: Anthony Danta
Heat Race 1: Billy Knippenberg, Ricky Baker
Heat Race 2: Scott Koerner, Jim Weber
Feature: Danta, Larry Schuler, Brandon Clubb, Baker, Mark Sontag Jr., Eddie Hoffman, Koerner, James Gregait, David Einhaus, Tony Scapelli Jr.
Fast Time: Tom Knippenberg
Heat Race 1: Knippenberg, Matt Clemens
Heat Race 2: Vince Cooper, Jeremy Clubb
Feature: Knippenberg, John Ventrello, Clemens, Joe Vinachi, Luke Baldwin, Kevin Murphy, Chuck Yuris, Kenny Benson, Clubb, Jim Kachel
Fast Time: Bob Davis
Heat Race 1: John Senerchia, Rob Scamen
Heat Race 2: Renee Farren, Christy Penrod
Feature: Eddie Ligue, Davis, Craig Matteson, Senerchia, Scamen, Jake Bradley, Penrod, Randy Weese, Pete Morris, Matt Sisson
Heat Race 1: Bryce Leake, Will Shepard
Heat Race 2: Jim Gross, Cirk Lindemuth
Feature: Lindemuth, Danielle, Dobczyk, Zach Sontag, Spencer Leake, Dan Schmeissing, Ricky Wilson, Shepard, Chris Mihalski, Justin Mikel, Mikey Slabenak