To many, Nick Hoffman winning the Outlaw 500cc 25-lap feature of the QRC Speed51 Open Tuesday night at Millbridge Speedway is not a big surprise. What was surprising was that the win was nearly snatched away by Andrew Wehrli in the closing laps. That is until disaster struck coming to the white flag.
After dominating most of the event from pole position, a late green flag run put Hoffman in the thick of lapped traffic, allowing Wehrli to close the distance and even pass Hoffman on the outside, as Hoffman got pinned on the inside by a lapped kart. But right when Hoffman made his counter-attack, Wehrli ground to a halt, with no power.
Hoffman would survive a green-checkered restart over Tyler Seavy to win the Outlaw Division feature on the opening night of the two-night QRC Speed51 Open presented by HMS Motorsport. Though he led from the start, Hoffman knew Wehrli would become a threat given the chance.
“I could kind of look over my shoulder most of the race there and see he was there. His kart was quite a bit louder than mine, so I could hear how close he was and judge myself. The first 10 laps I was making sure I saved my tires so that it wasn’t going to be too bad come the end, because I knew there was going to be a couple of cautions there,” Hoffman told Speed51.com.
A great last lap duel was cut short when Wehrli slowed, a broken carburetor being the culprit.
“That’s racing, it happens. We had a really fast kart tonight, we were probably faster than Nick. We were just biding our time and waiting for those lapped cars to pick. I got one and he chose the bottom, I went to the top and the lapped car bogged him down a little bit. I got by him and I went down into one and the carburetor fell off,” said a disappointed Wehrli.
After the race, Wehrli came down to victory lane to give his congratulations to Hoffman, with Hoffman returning the gesture, congratulating Wehrli running him as hard as he did.
“It sucks for him, we had a really good race, he actually cleared me down the frontstretch there and I was able to get back by him in one. His stuff was really good. It always is every week here when he gets around the bottom, he’s pretty good,” said Hoffman.
On the other hand, the win helped to turn around a day that had a substandard time trial for Hoffman in his No.2 Open kart. He felt afterwards that the win, albeit in a different kart, gives him some momentum heading into the main event for the Open class on Wednesday evening.
“It does for sure. I struggled tonight in my Open kart, which is pretty uncommon for us. I don’t know if we adjusted too much for qualifying, but I really struggled there. It worked out for the invert starting on the pole in the heat, but I’m in there with Hubert and Larson. I think we’ll have similar track tomorrow but hopefully the top is going to come in and we’ll get it working up there.”
Join us for the live PPV broadcast on Speed51.com tomorrow night, all culminating in the 51-lap feature of the QRC Speed51 Open presented by HMS Motorsport. Fans can purchase their online video ticket here.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com