Caution-free races have a common misconception about them. Often times, people assume that a race must have been boring if it went caution-free. The ARCA/CRA Super Series portion of the Kalamazoo Klash at Michigan’s Kalamazoo Speedway was anything but boring as the veteran driver of Johnny VanDoorn battled through lapped traffic with the young gun of Carson Hocevar.
At the end of 125 laps it was the veteran using the knowledge he’s accrued through years of racing prevailing over the teenaged driver.
In the early stages of the race Harold Fair set a blistering pace, pulling out to a more than three-second led.
Hocevar continued to follow the back bumper of VanDoorn’s red No. 71 machine closely, and then made his move on Lap 85. As VanDoorn tried to put Steve Dorer a lap down, Hocevar jumped to the outside in a bid for the lead. When they came off turn four, Hocevar cut hard left and drove underneath VanDoorn to take the lead in turn one.
Unfortunately for Hocevar, the lead was short lived as he too had trouble putting Dorer a lap down. Just three laps later Hocevar and Dorer made hard contact exiting turn four, and that contact allowed VanDoorn to drive back by Hocevar and into the lead.
Hocevar didn’t let VanDoorn escape, however. He trailed VanDoorn by no more than four car lengths as he tried to regroup.
The youngster got back to VanDoorn’s back bumper and made a move to the outside once again, this time off turn two, but once again a lapped car impeded his progress. Hocevar made hard contact with John Long, ending his bid at the biggest victory of his young career.
VanDoorn was able to hang on and score the victory at Kalamazoo, a track the Fruitport, Michigan driver considers one of his home tracks.
“That was a phenomenal battle. That’s what racing is all about. The lapped cars held us down on the bottom and it made for a heck of a race,” said VanDoorn in victory lane. “I’ve wanted to win this race so bad. This is like my second home track and I’ve been so close. To finally come down here and do it after all these years is really awesome.”
For Hocevar, a second-place result is of course a good finish, but at the same time a bitter pill to swallow.
“It was definitely a good show, but unfortunate with the lack of respect with 10 to go and then three to go,” said Hocevar of the lapped cars. “He waved us by and then decided to race us. I think I would have had a shot at Johnny if I could have got too his outside and then we could have put on an even better show for the finish. Just a little bit of a lack of respect from lappers.”
Rounding out the top five was championship contender Josh Brock in third, last year’s Klash winner Travis Braden, and early leader Harold Fair.
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-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Associate Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
ARCA/CRA Super Series Kalamazoo Klash 125
Kalamazoo Speedway, Kalamazoo, Michigan
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