Eddie Hoffman used the outside to keep everybody else looking in Friday night at Grundy County Speedway.
The Wheaton native scored his third late-model feature win of the season, beating fellow veteran Larry Schuler to the finish line by 0.389 seconds.
The race had three leaders in the first four laps: Chris Cooling, Schuler, then Hoffman. Hoffman was well back in the field at the start, and took a calculated risk when he threw his No. 8 to the top.
“At the start I went outside because guys were trying to get down low and jamming things up,” Hoffman said. “The outside went, so I picked a couple off on the outside. Then we had that scary deal up high.”
The “scary deal” on lap three involved Mark Sontag, Cooling and Brandon Clubb, with Cooling and Clubb going to the pits for quick repairs and Sontag being sent to the back.
Hoffman chose the high side for the double-file restart and outraced Schuler for the lead.
“I got the outside on Larry and for two laps this car was real fast,” Hoffman said. “Then that was it.”
Indeed, Hoffman had a brief challenge for the lead from Billy Knippenberg, but Schuler eventually was able to wrestle second place back. Schuler stayed close, but not close enough to have a shot at passing Hoffman.
“I think we had a little too much left side air pressure,” Schuler said. “There was a lot of chirping and chattering going on over here. And then we were pulling the car out to the wall coming off the corners. But we did OK.”
Points leader Ricky Baker had a fair share of issues, but hung in and battled to a third-place finish. Fourth went to Scott Koerner, ahead of Knippenberg and Sontag.
Late-model heats went to Cooling and Chuck Sottosanti.
Mid-American points leader Tom Knippenberg needed some patience, but eventually dominated in a special 40-lap main event.
Knippenberg, who won for the sixth time this season, spent many laps on the back bumper of Kevin Murphy before getting underneath and passing on lap 28 in a three-car jumble that also involved Kevin Gentile.
“I couldn’t be more patient,” Knippenberg said. “I knew Gentile was there, but I knew I had to be patient because 40 laps is a long race to get greedy. I just did what I had to do and when I made my move, here we are.”
Knippenberg went on to beat Gentile by 1.971 seconds. Murphy held on for third ahead of Ron Vandermeir Jr., John Ventrello and Luke Baldwin.
Gentile and Murphy captured the heats.
Darrell Gay led for much of the 25-lap street stock feature, but finally gave way to Eddie Ligue on lap 18. Ligue, who also won the heat, sailed to his fourth victory of the season. Christy Penrod, Jake Bradley, Billy Rud and Bob Davis completed the top six.
Mike Yuris took the lead from Danielle Dobczyk on lap nine and went on to capture his first pure stocks feature. Dobczyk checked in second, ahead of Nathan Coleman, Blaine Passini, Dan Schmeissing and Justin Mikel.
Heats were won by Yuris and Jeff Law.
Fast Time: Ricky Baker
Heat Race 1: Chris Cooling, Larry Schuler
Heat Race 2: Chuck Sottosanti, Jeff Olson
Feature: Eddie Hoffman, Schuler, Baker, Scott Koerner, Billy Knippenberg, Mark Sontag Jr., Pat Kelly, Cooling, James Gregait, Tony Scapelli Jr.
Fast Time: Tom Knippenberg
Heat Race 1: Kevin Gentile, John Ventrello
Heat Race 2: Kevin Murphy, Cody Clubb
Feature: Knippenberg, Gentile, Murphy, Ron Vandermeir Jr., Ventrello, Luke Baldwin, Vince Cooper, Chuck Yuris, Jim Kachel, Clubb
Fast Time: Jake Bradley
Heat Race 1: Eddie Ligue, Bradley
Feature: Ligue, Christy Penrod, Bradley, Billy Rud, Bob Davis, Rob Scamen, Rita Fields, Darrell Gay
Heat Race 1: Mike Yuris, Steve Hespen
Heat Race 2: Jeff Law, Dan Schmeissing
Feature: Yuris, Danielle, Dobczyk, Alex Clubb, Blaine Passini, Schmeissing, Justin Mikel, Ricky Wilson, Zach Sontag, Spencer Leake, Mikey Slabenak
– By Tony Baranek, Southtown Star. Photo credit: Brian Nolte/4th Turn Photos