Winchester, Indiana: The 10th anniversary 2014 racing season for the Vore’s Welding CRA Late Model Sportsman Series Powered by JEGS concluded during the 43rd running of the Winchester 400 Weekend on Saturday, October 11. The legendary 1/2 (0.500) mile high-banked paved oval of Winchester Speedway, located west of the Indiana / Ohio state line and east of Muncie in Winchester, Indiana served as hosts of the Vore’s Welding 50 as the 2014 Series Champion and Rookie of the Year titles were officially decided at the end of 50 laps.
The CRA Late Model Sportsman Series had raced at the famed high-banks on 34 previous occasions prior to the 2014 Winchester 400 Weekend. On this night, 18-year-old Quinnton Bear was looking for a bit of redemption from his last appearance in Eastern Indiana. On Labor Day Monday, September 1st during the World Stock Car Festival, Bear crossed the start / finish line first, but was DQ’ed in post-race tech. He redeemed himself in part in the next race at Anderson Speedway (IN) on September 13th by winning that event. The Avon, Indiana teenager than completed the redemption process in his #94 Advance Auto Sales / Sam Soni Incorporated / Chevrolet by returning to victory lane at Winchester.
“I’m so happy right now, even with a tore up racecar. I got the trophy, I got the win in front of all these people and it’s Winchester 400 Weekend,” The elated rookie stated in victory lane after the race. As the checkered flag waved, contact was made between him and Jason Atkinson resulting in Bear slamming the wall after the race was over and Atkinson suffering severe damage to his right front. “This puts all the bad stuff we’ve experienced this season in the past for good. Definitely a great way to end my time in the CRA Late Model Sportsman Series before we move up next year.” He added
In the midst of the post-race activity between Bear and Atkinson, Greg Van Alst finished 13th which was good enough for the 33-year-old to hang on to win the 2014 CRA Late Model Sportsman Series Championship by just five points over runner-up, Jack Dossey III. Van Alst, who won his first career Feature of any kind after 17 years of trying back on June 13th at his home track of Anderson Speedway (IN) during Redbud 300 Weekend, would hang onto the points lead for the remainder of the season in his #35 Top Choice Fence & Deck / McGunegill Engine Performance / Ford en route to his first career Championship.
“Just Wow! I can’t say Thank You enough to everyone who has made this possible. A year ago I really didn’t know if I would ever be able to race again after sitting out the season for neck and back surgery.” The exuberant Van Alst said during post-race ceremonies surrounded by his crew as well as family and friends. “My guys and I didn’t want to sit at home and just watch so we kept our team together and helped Mark Lambert win his championship last year. That taught us how to win races and a title and I think we really showed that this season. A big Thanks to those that have helped at some point this year whether it was at the race track or at the race shop. We did it man!” He added.
While the 15-year-old Dossey III just missed out on the overall championship, the Indianapolis, Indiana teenager didn’t leave the legendary high-banks empty-handed as he would clinch the 2014 Rookie of the Year title by merely taking the Green Flag to start the race. With nothing to lose in that regard, the driver of the #20 Hart’s Auto Service / Jack Dossey Motorsports / Chevrolet fought his way to as high as second before settling for a fifth place finish. With Van Alst finishing 13th, Dossey III would’ve had to stay in second at the end of the race to sweep both titles.
In the 50-Lap Feature, Atkinson, who earlier in the afternoon won the Allstar Performance Fast Qualifier Award, drew the maximum of a 10 for an inversion which places Bret Miles Jr., and Shawn Amor, the winner at Angola Motorsport Speedway (IN) back on August 10th, on the front row. Amor would shoot out to the early lead while the rest of the field jockeyed for position behind him. Bear quickly moved his way up to the second spot and it would take a restart with nine laps to go to get past Amor to grab the lead. He brought Atkinson with him and the battle was on.
Atkinson, the all-time statistical leader in most categories in series history, tried every trick in his arsenal to get past Bear to take over the lead. Bear hung tough on the famed high-banks. As the two drivers came out of turn four for the final time, they touched sending Bear sideways across the start / finish line and Atkinson also into a spin. While Bear crossed the line first for his second Feature Win of the 2014 season, he then careened into the turn one wall while Atkinson slid into the inside retaining wall just before turn one. Both drivers were ok, but both cars were heavily damaged. Bear’s earlier pass of Amor earned him the AR Bodies Cool Move of the Race Award.
As for the runner-up, Atkinson’s #7 Oak Motors / Ford recorded its second straight runner-up finish dating back to the last race at Lucas Oil Raceway (IN) on September 28th. The 38-year-old from near-by New Castle, Indiana would later officially win the 2014 CRA Street Stock Series Championship as he pulled double-duty in both classes throughout the 2014 season. He also collected the Racing Electronics Second to None Award for his efforts. Lost in the battle for the win was 19-year-old rookie, J.P. Crabtree III who scored a career high third place finish in his #83 Jim’s Automotive / Chevrolet. The Muncie, Indiana freshman won the New Stars Feature the previous night to kick off 400 Weekend.
After leading the first 30 laps of the 50-lap main, Amor would hang on to finish fourth in his #28 Whitman’s Auto Sales / Chevrolet. The 36-year-old who made the trip from Plymouth, Indiana fought hard with Crabtree III before settled for his finishing position. Dossey III completed the top five to secure both the 2014 Overall Runner-Up honors as well as his 2014 Rookie of the Year title.
Miles Jr., hung on for a sixth place finish ahead of out-going series champion, Mark Lambert who finished in seventh. 18-year-old Thomas Hufferd Jr., scored an eighth place effort while veteran Tommy Cook was ninth after starting in 14th as Danny Brown Jr., who started 18th, would complete the top 10. Larry Swinford earned the Racing Electronics Hard-Charger Award after a grinding crash the day before in Practice. He got the car fixed, started 28th and advanced 13 positions to finish in 15th.
Earlier in the day in Allstar Performance Qualifying, Atkinson won his third Fast Qualifier Award of the season over a stellar 32-car field. It was also his 12th FQ Award all-time, which is tops in series history. He toured the 1/2 mile high-banks at a 16.841 which measures out to 106.882mph. Scott Neal will hang onto his Track Record for at least another year as he went a 16.728 back on September 5, 2010.
The previous evening in the CRA Late Model Sportsman Series New Stars Feature, Crabtree III went to victory lane as he took the lead on lap six and held off 14-year-old Chris Hacker for the win. Steve Stacy, Shawn Bonar and Donald Parsons were the top five. The Van Hoy Oil Fast Qualifier was Crabtree III who went a 17.246 over the field.
There is still one event remaining which will officially conclude the 2014 racing season; the 2014 Champion Racing Association (CRA) Powered by JEGS Awards Banquet. On Saturday, January 3, 2015 the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown at Union Station located in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana will host the gala event. The event will honor the top 10 teams in 2014 points from the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS, JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance, Vore’s Welding CRA Late Model Sportsman Series Powered by JEGS and the Stealth Trailers CRA Street Stocks Series Powered by JEGS.
More information about the 2014 CRA Awards Banquet will be released soon. For more information about all four touring series’ within Champion Racing Association Powered by JEGS, please go to the series website at: www.cra-racing.com You can also follow along with all of CRA’s touring series’ all season long on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/ChampionRacingAssociation and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CRAracing
CRA PR = Speed51.com photo