For the second night in a row, a Late Model Stock Car race for a good cause and a big payday was decided after being pushed into overtime due to late race carnage. The inaugural Racing for Wishes 150 benefitting the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Virginia was held at Shenandoah Speedway (VA) Friday and saw veteran competitor Michael Hardin take advantage of an opportunity on the final green-white-checkered restart.
Leader Keith Carpenter appeared to have spun his tires coming out of turn four, allowing Hardin to get the top spot and hold off Brian Purdham for the win. All three competitors had different perspectives regarding what had occurred.
“I knew I had to go; being on the outside line here is pretty crazy,” Hardin told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I had been having some trouble on the restarts. It slides the front end really bad so I did everything I could to get heat in that right front tire. When I went they told me that somebody got into the back of (Carpenter) and I guess it made him spin his tires a little bit.”
Carpenter, a local racer who finished second in the track standings a season ago after taking three years off from competition, did not see things the same way.
“The rules are that you have to start in between the two white lines and (Hardin) started a car length before the white line, so he jumped the start,” explained Carpenter. “The flagman is supposed to throw the caution and start the race again, but that’s racing.”
Both Carpenter and Hardin were not noticeably the class of the field, which included four-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Philip Morris. During the 150-lap affair that paid $6,000 to the winner, both drivers had inherited the lead positions due to numerous events that unfolded at the front of the field.
Tyler Ankrum, fresh off of a fifth-place finish at the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown the night before, was the fastest qualifier and quickly made his way to the front after a seven car invert. A dominating performance would change hands at lap 120 when a planned stoppage to invert the top-five competitors occurred. The 15-year-old Californian fought unsuccessfully to make passes and was sidelined with a suspected steering box issue in which the team felt was as a result of contact from Carpenter in a race for the fourth position at the time.
When the field was inverted, 2014 Shenandoah champion Doug Liberman led the way and for several circuits held off Purdham who was in hot pursuit. That would change on lap 142, when the winner of the last four weekly races at the track dating back to the previous season would make a little too much contact, sending Liberman for a spin. The aftermath meant that Purdham had to restart from the back.
“I let him know I was there several times, and just tried to work on him a little bit,” said Purdham. “Tried to push into the corner and I kept getting up underneath his left rear fender, and that last time I got in the throttle a little too soon.”
The two drivers both would have to find their way up through the field once again, but Liberman’s night was cut short when he was involved in a multi-car melee. The Delaware competitor who formerly competed at Old Dominion Speedway before it closed in 2012 spoke about his displeasure after the event.
“I was running the bottom where I needed to be to run some quick laps, and apparently it wasn’t quick enough for him,” said Liberman. “So he just turned me sideways once, twice, and then he finally finished me off. I guess three strikes and you’re out.”
After a couple ensuing multi-car incidents, Purdham found himself in the mix and had another shot for the win thanks to the issues on the final restart involving Carpenter. However, with the short amount of time remaining the local favorite, who lives five minutes from the track, could not get around Hardin.
“The restart there, (Carpenter) missed a shift,” recalled Purdham. “I could hear his rev limiter in my ear, and I got to the bottom and thought I was clear. The only thing I could have done when (Hardin) was stuck on the bottom was bump him once, but we had already been through that one time. I think I had the better car.”
Hardin, who is running a full season at Langley Speedway and currently sits third in points, congratulated Purdham for the way they raced on the final restart and throughout the race.
“I did what I could those last couple laps to get on the bottom, and I know Brian is a hell of a racer,” said Hardin. “He’ll race me clean.”
The 27-year-old Maryland resident made the two and a half hour trip to Shenandoah with Langley having an off weekend, and made it one of the biggest and profitable wins of his career.
“I did get the very last race ever at Old Dominion Speedway, their Big One, and that was a pretty big one but I don’t think it had the same dollars as this one did.”
Racing for Wishes 150 Results
1 8 7 Michael Hardin 156
2 6 77 Brian Purdham 156
3 5 44 Keith Carpenter 156
4 3 41 Davey Callihan 156
5 18 9 Mark Miller 156
6 11 81 Timmy “Mini” Tyrrell 156
7 16 97 Brian Henderson 153
8 17 82 Mike Ganoe 153
9 9 54 Dave Carter 153
10 19 07 Richard Storm 152
11 1 56 Doug Liberman 147
12 7 58 Tyler Ankrum 130
13 2 99 Vincent Campbell 115
14 13 86 Michael Marr 115
15 15 95 Ty Miller 57
16 10 79 Jeff Abbott 41
17 4 17 Philip Morris 21
18 14 57 Ray Terczak 17
19 12 51 Kevin Bush 9
– By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Pennsylvania/Central New York Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
– Photo credit: Speed51.com