Midvale, Ohio — During Saturday’s Hilltop General Store 75 presented by Frontier Tool and Equipment Rental, the field of competitors were not only evading impending storms in the sky but also within the abundance of action on the track. Petersburg, West Virginia’s Brent Nelson dodged and survived numerous close calls to come away with his third career Super Cup Stock Car Series victory. It was his first at Eastern Ohio’s Midvale Speedway.
“We thought we had it won three different times and still had to fight for it,” Nelson said, adding that he could not recall being part of a more eventful conclusion to a race.
Some dramatic altercations set up by a yellow flag with only two laps to go resulted in four green-white-checkered attempts on the 3/10-mile, but the turning point to the race came even earlier. A long green flag run during the middle stages of the 75-lap event began to get interesting as 2015 Midvale winner Larry Berg was tracking down the leader and teammate Stephen Cox, who set a track record earlier in the evening with a lap time of 14.758 seconds.
When a caution flag flew for a spin by Brian Harrison on the frontstretch with 11 circuits remaining, Berg got together with Cox in turn four of the ensuing restart lap and Cox went around. Due to initiating the contact, Berg was sent to the rear meaning the two fastest cars throughout most of the distance had to climb their way back through the field.
“I just went down into the corner the first time, he checked up, and I just bumped him a little bit,” Berg, who ended the night with a fourth place finish, recapped. “Didn’t mean to, and of course we got sent to the back and from that point our car was pushing badly.”
Avoiding it all was Nelson, who had come back to third place at the time after spinning out earlier in the going.
“Everything closed up and then it opened up,” Nelson explained. “We were able to weave our way through it.”
Cox, making his first SCSCS appearance since 2012, was involved in another close call during one of the green-white-checkered attempts. Nelson slowed up in the first two turns, allowing both Cox and 2014 series champion JJ Pack to get a run under him. Down the backstretch, the two ran out of real estate, spun toward the infield, returned up the track in turns three and four, and collected two other cars in the process.
Without a green flag lap being completed the running order was reset, giving Nelson the lead once again. With some additional restart mishaps among others in the field, Cox would rebound to end the night in second place.
“My question is how many times do you have to win the race?” Cox inquired. “We came out and were lapping the whole field. I had the race won; got taken out. Came back, got all the way back up front, was passing (Pack) on the inside, and he comes right down and takes us both out. I won it twice and couldn’t win it three times.”
Despite the disappointment from finishing runner-up with a fast car, the Indianapolis, Indiana driver making his return behind the wheel after recovering from a fiery incident in late February was certainly grateful.
“There are a lot of guys that get hurt really bad and are never the same driver again,” Cox commented. “It’s kind of emotional for me. I feel like I’m still a race car driver, and I hope everybody at Boschett Timepieces, Impact Race Products, and McGunegill Engines knows it too, because everybody up in the stands knows we were there.”
Pack also returned toward the front after the altercation and finished in third. The Nokesville, Virginia driver’s view of the late race incident differed slightly.
“Brent actually pushed up in the corner and I went to capitalize,” Pack documented. “I felt Stephen getting on my side. I was already sideways, he was pushing me, and we went for a slide.”
Brian Harrison recovered to finish fifth. After the top six qualifiers redrew, series veterans Kevin Kromer and Harvey Harrison started from the front row. Each led laps during the event, but unfortunately their end fate would not be successful.
Harvey Harrison would suffer sheet metal damage in an early incident, but an issue with the radiator would ultimately end the Renick, West Virginia driver’s night a third of the way through while running in second. Walnutport, Pennsylvania’s Kevin Kromer made hard impact with the lapped car of Trent Gossar with two laps remaining, initiating the aforementioned series of green-white-checkered restarts. The two-time Midvale winner was shaken after the accident, but was okay after being checked out by the track’s medical team.
Although starting off the season with a win was exciting, Nelson expressed being fortunate to go on to the next one unscathed with his Airtek Inc. / Precision Auto Collision No. 80.
“Thank the good Lord above,” Nelson remarked. “We got a little damage but we’ll fix it and go to Columbus, and we can roll it and drive it into the trailer.”
The Super Cup Stock Car Series marches on in two weeks for their annual stop at Columbus Motor Speedway. This visit will be a special one with it marking the final time in which the 1/3-mile hosts the series as the track will shut its doors for good at the conclusion of 2016 after 71 seasons of competition.
The Hilltop General Store 75 presented by Frontier Tool and Equipment Rental will air at a future date on MAVTV and LucasOilRacing.TV. Please visit the official web site at www.supercupstockcarseries.com, Super Cup Stock Car Series Facebook at www.facebook.com/SCSCSRacing, or Twitter @SCSCSRacing for an announcement of dates and times.
-Super Cup Stock Car Series Press Release
-Photo Credit: Super Cup Stock Car Series
Hilltop General Store 75 presented by Frontier Tool and Equipment finishing order:
1 80 Brent Nelson
2 33 Stephen Cox
3 61 JJ Pack
4 7 Larry Berg
5 15 Brian Harrison
6 18 Jeff Zillweger
7 2 Mike Kurkowski
8 77 Kevin Kromer
9 5 Brandon Harrison
10 71 Trent Gossar
11 35 Bill Ashton
12 3 Jason Schue
13 51 Harvey Harrison
14 52 Kyle Kromer
15 07 Brian Kaltreider