A couple months ago, Brett Yackey and family made the trek to Wisconsin for the annual Dixieland 250. Although it did not go quite as expected, the Greeley, Colorado-based team chased their issues until the very end, in part by being parked next to a Midwest champion. Soaking up as much knowledge and advice from driver Ty Majeski and crew chief Toby Nuttleman as possible, they have been on a roll ever since returning to their home state.
That roll continued on Saturday night during Challenge Cup XLIV at Colorado National Speedway. In the first half of the 100-lap Super Late Model race, both son, Brett Yackey, and father, Bruce Yackey, began marching towards the front from their starting positions in the latter part of the top 10. Brett Yackey was the first to the front as he used a mid-race restart to get around early leader and two-time event winner Dominic Ursetta for the lead.
“All I knew is I couldn’t let him get the jump so I threw it down in there in one and two and got a good drive off,” The Kulwicki Driver Development Program participant told Speed51.com. “He got a little loose and bounced off me and I got clear. At that point I just couldn’t look back.”
Ursetta pulled off the track shortly thereafter and for Brett Yackey, there was only one major challenger near the tail of his No. 32, and it was a familiar one. Brett had recently picked up his first Super Late Model victory at the 3/8-mile oval two weeks ago, and passed Bruce Yackey to make it happen. This time he had to fend him off, as the nine-time track champion kept within a car length or two throughout the closing laps.
“This is really really cool,” Brett Yackey, who at 18 years old is the youngest Challenge Cup winner in history, remarked. “I got my first Super Late Model win in an 80-lap feature on championship night, followed it the next week winning the Late Model (Sportsman) championship, and then this week followed it with the biggest race that Colorado has. That’s unbelievable; my first two wins back-to-back in big races.”
For Bruce Yackey, seeing his son in victory lane was actually bittersweet, considering the numerous times the veteran driver has come close without taking the trophy since his lone win in the event in 1993.
“Every time he made a mistake I’d catch him, but he never made two or three mistakes in a row and then he’d pull away from me,” Bruce Yackey commented. “I was good but just not quite good enough, and for me this is disappointing. It’s great to see Brett win, but this is probably my 15th second-place finish in Challenge Cup and I haven’t won it for 25 years.”
Finishing third was 2018 track champion Darren Robertson. The third-generation driver fell to the back in the 10-lap Dash earlier in the evening that helped set the feature lineup and saved his tires for when it counted. Nevertheless, once the Arvada, Colorado driver, who won the event five years ago, made his way into contention it was as far as he could get on this night.
“We started off the race tight and could roll on the outside pretty good, but once we got into third and had an open track in front of us I felt like we were running the top two down a little bit, slowly,” Robertson explained. “It was hard to be consistent with my line, being so tight. The motor started getting hot, got up to 250 degrees. We just didn’t enough for the top two tonight.”
Occasional NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitor Chris Eggleston finished fourth in an uncharacteristic night where his car would fall off on longer runs. A past champion with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, the Thornton, Colorado driver also fought the loss of power steering nearing halfway.
Fast qualifier Eddie Vecchiarelli Jr., with help all weekend from defending winner Preston Peltier, set fast time and methodically worked his way into the top five. Much like Robertson, the conservation game would only get him as far as fifth. The top four in qualifying were separated by only 0.007 seconds.
Brian Yackey, older brother of Brett, finished seventh in only his second career Super Late Model start, after a spirited late race battle with Matt Zwingelberg, always a strong runner in the Challenge Cup.
Although the season is over in Colorado, as evidenced by the chill in the air on this particular autumn night, the Yackey family is not quite done racing in 2018 yet. They hope to take all the lessons learned over much of the year back to Tucson Speedway (AZ) for a few attempts leading up to the Super Late Model Turkey Shoot at the 3/8-mile facility on Thanksgiving weekend.
It is a track in which both continue searching for their first victory.
“I’ve been there a couple times and I love that place,” Brett Yackey noted. “We’re going there next weekend for their weekly show and then we’re going to go down there on October 27th just to get some more races in. Hopefully we’ll head down there with some momentum and see what we can do.”
Bruce Yackey echoed his son’s statements about having momentum following two straight one-two finishes in Colorado. Seeing what the Centennial State drivers can do in the desert will certainly be a story to watch.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com National Correspondent – Twitter: @aaron_creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Challenge Cup XLIV Results
|5||Eddie Vecchiarelli Jr.||100|