With Indianapolis citizens shooting off fireworks in the background, Terry Fisher Jr. started Independence Day weekend off with some fireworks of his own.
Fisher worked his way past Eddie VanMeter on a lap 17 restart and held the lead the rest of the way to win the 30-lap Vore’s Welding CRA Late Model Sportsman feature as part of the Indy-Pendence Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway.
“We were real good,” said Fisher to Speed51.com Powered by JEGS. “I knew I had the car to get to the front. We had a lot of good cars here, and I knew I had to get to the front fast. (The leaders) left the high side open and I went three-wide. It was kind of a gutsy move two laps into the race, but I knew I had to get up front because there were a lot of good cars behind me. Greg Van Alst was good all day.
“We just caught some breaks there, got into second and were just riding, trying to get around Eddie (VanMeter), and Eddie was really strong. I knew I had to nail the restart just to get around him.”
Fisher, 29, took the win after working his way past race leader VanMeter on the race’s only restart.
“I knew I had to get a really good jump on him,” said Fisher. “I actually got a better jump than I thought. I had to kind of let off and let him get to the line. I pulled him a little bit coming off of (turn) four and then I knew if I could drive it in real deep and just try to clear him there, I could actually get him.”
After leading a race-high 16 laps, VanMeter would come home in second.
“I’ve just got to thank these guys,” VanMeter said of his crew. “They’ve worked their butts off getting me and my son (Billy VanMeter) out here this week. We mainly did it to get some seat time for when we come back here in a couple weeks. I haven’t been here in a couple years so I figured I’d need all of the help I can get.”
VanMeter acknowledged his smaller motor cost him on the race’s final restart.
“The car was good all night,” said VanMeter. “We just had the smaller motor there, so on restarts and starts we struggled a little bit, but the car ran good.”
Greg Van Alst drove through the field after setting quick time during the night’s qualifying session to finish in third.
“We had a real good car, awesome power from MEP tonight,” said Van Alst. “We got ran up off of (turn) four and got into the wall, and it knocked the rear end out of square. We were still fast, but the handling was just gone.
“I had nothing after that. I feel like we had them pretty well covered before then, but that’s racing. We’ll go on to the next one. It’s an awesome points night. We were the highest-finishing CRA Sportsman regular, so I think we’ll come out of here a couple points behind the points leader. We’ll go to Anderson and win that one.”
Shawn Amor and Jared Thomas rounded out the top five, with Billy VanMeter, Jack Dossey III, Jason Atkinson, Matthew Parsons and Keith Lyons rounding out the top 10.
Scotty Tomasik led the field to the green flag at the Clermont, Indiana track, driving off to a large lead in turn one. However, CRA officials deemed that Tomasik had jumped the start, prompting a complete restart of the race. When the race restarted, VanMeter took the lead from second. Tomasik would drop to 11th.
The race’s lone caution came out on lap 16, when J.P. Crabtree spun out coming off of turn four. Crabtree would keep his car off the wall and rebound to finish 12th.
With the victory, Fisher becomes the fifth different winner in as many races to start the 2015 CRA Late Model Sportsman season, joining Amor, Dossey, Atkinson and Tomasik.
In the 30-lap Stealth Trailers CRA Street Stock Series Powered by JEGS feature that ran earlier in the night, Jimmy Kirby drove from ninth to take the win in an intense race.
Kirby would take the lead on lap 19, diving under pole-sitter Jason Thompson in turns three and four and beating him to the finish line. From there, the veteran drove off to the win in a caution-free race.
“We started back in the ninth position, and I was complaining all day that the car wasn’t good, but it started hooking up on the bottom,” Kirby told Speed51.com Powered by JEGS. “I drove to the bottom and heck, it went that way so I just kept on driving it. Before you know it, I got up to the leaders and drove to the bottom of them also and just drove away. Then I just ran off with it.
“It was just pure luck, I feel,” Kirby continued. “But it was a good race with all of the competitors. I was down, and I wasn’t going to get up there, but then there we came.”
Kirby had to race his way through an intense field to earn the victory.
“It was (a madhouse),” said Kirby. “At the beginning there were nine cars all going into turn one, everybody fighting for position; four-wide, five-wide I seen it. You’ve gotta just maintain and keep your composure. Don’t lose the car. You know, there’s young kids, old guys, all of us out there racing. This track’s big enough that you can take your time, and make moves. If you can’t get one lap, go another lap. It was real clustered out there, but then once I got spread out, then you’re out to (Indiana state road) 465 driving.”
Despite running on old tires, Thompson would hold on to second.
“We came here with old tires – we didn’t put any new tires on – and the kind of started us off a little behind schedule,” said Thompson. “We came here to practice and to try to get our car better for the big race at the end of the month. It pays a little bit of money.”
Thompson would run the final laps with four drivers in his mirror.
“You know, these are tough competitors,” said Thompson. “CRA’s got some of the best drivers around, so I feel good with what we’ve done.”
Jacob McElfresh would end the night in third, with Mason Keller and Phil Jenkins rounding out the top five.
James Kirby III, Robert Amos, Josh Poore, TJ Flynn and Matt Clark rounded out the top 10.
The Vore’s Welding CRA Late Model Sportsman Series will return to action on July 17, when the field heads to Anderson Speedway (IN) for a 75-lap feature. The CRA Street Stocks will return on July 31, heading back to Lucas Oil Raceway for round three of the Lucas Oil Raceway Stock Car Series championship.
-By Aaron Bearden, Speed51.com Contributor
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com