Salem, IN – Owensboro, Kentucky native Blake Hillard got his first ever Lawrence Towing CRA Street Stocks Powered by JEGS points victory on Sunday afternoon in Casey’s Homemade Pizza 50 on the High Banks of Salem Speedway. The event was part of the Second Annual Casey’s General Store GAS/CRA Challenge, an event with a 50 lap point’s event for the Salem Speedway Lucas Oil Great American Stocks, a 50 lap point’s event for the Lawrence Towing CRA Street Stocks, and then a final 50 lap event for the top 12 finishers out of each series race for jus money and bragging rights.
The event was one of the best races the series has had to date when James Kirby III got the early lead at the drop of the green flag from his outside pole starting position. Hillard quickly worked his way from his sixth starting position to close on Kirby III’s tail. Allstar Performance Fast Qualifier Brett Hudson came from his eighth place inverted starting position to quickly join the three car battle for the lead.
Kirby III first fought off Hillard for several laps, then fought off Hudson who had battled with Hillard for several laps to take second. Hillard didn’t give up and got back around Hudson to battle for the lead again with Kirby as the laps started to wind down. Hillard then slipped just a touch coming out of turn four while under Kirby III. Hillard made slight contact with Kirby III forcing him into the outside front stretch wall. The contact cut down the right front tire of Kirby III giving the lead to Hillard on lap 42.
Kirby III got his car to pit road without causing a caution. Hillard was then able to hold off fellow Owensboro native and defending event winner Hudson to get the win.
“That was some of the most intense racing I’ve ever done,” remarked Hillard in victory lane. “The 22 car (Kirby III) was doing a great job racing on the top. I got under him in three and four and slipped up just a little and got into him in four. I didn’t mean too, just hard racing. I hate it happened. It’s great to get the win, have to thank my crew and my dad for this opportunity!”
Hudson would finish in second and maintain the series points lead. Chuck Barnes Jr. would finish in third. Jason Atkinson would finish in fourth. Jimmy Kirby finished in fifth place.Hillard was the winner of last year’s Casey’s General Store GAS/CRA Challenge 50 non-points race.
With the win Hillard joins Hudson and Barnes Jr. as drivers locked into the CRA Championship Chase format if they compete in at least 70% of the races leading up to the final four Chase events, to crown the 2018 series Champion.
Todd Kempf won the Caseystogo.com 50 for the Salem Speedway Lucas Oil Great American Stocks. The top four finishers from each of the series 50 lap point events then redrew for their starting positions for the non-points Casey’s General Store CRA/GAS Challenge 50. Barnes Jr. got to start on the pole for that event with Hudson on the outside pole and Hillard right behind Barnes Jr. Hudson took the lead at the drop of the green flag, then held off Will Kimmel to get the win in the Casey’s General Store GAS/CRA Challenge 50. Barnes Jr. was third, Hillard was fourth with Josh Brading in fifth place.
The next Lawrence Towing CRA Street Stocks event will be the second leg of the CRA Street Stock Five Crown series on Saturday, June 16th at Anderson Speedway. That event will be 200 laps and pay $3000 to win. For more information on all the CRA series go to www.cra-racing.com.
-CRA Racing Press Release. Photo Credit: Rich Corbett Photo