The 18th Annual Summer Sizzler at New Paris Speedway was a two-hour long marathon which saw the perennial favorite’s chances sputter under yellow with three laps to go and a surprise driver pick up the popular win.
It appeared that Tyler Roahrig would pick up a fifth win in the event before a yellow erased a nine-second lead with three laps remaining. After another caution off the restart, Roahrig ran out of gas, ending his chances at victory.
That would give the lead to local driver Donny Klotz III, who held off Shawn Amor on the final three-lap shootout to pick up the biggest win of his career. The Elkhart, IN driver led the first 69 laps after starting on the pole and was having a career run when he re-inherited the lead. He admitted in victory lane that he did not envision himself winning the race with the struggles his team faced leading up to the race and luck played a big part in the outcome.
“I struggled all day. Not only could I not get it fast, I couldn’t even get it to control right,” Klotz told Speed51.com. “I was on the track the whole time trying to get it off the track. We tried something after qualifying, we changed a little bit of the setup and we came out here and crossed our fingers.
“The first 50 laps this thing was rolling, I was like it was easy to drive, I love it, it’s back to how I need it. I wasn’t having to push it because I wasn’t feeling anyone behind me and I just wasn’t having to try and pass anyone. I just kind of rode it out and then that middle run where Tyler got me, my car just went really bad. It just started pushing real bad and it just tightened up and I really needed a caution and I got it. Luck was just really on my side today, that’s really all I could say, I love it.”
Roahrig took the lead from Klotz on a lap 70 restart and quickly checked out from the field with a half-lap lead. He was on his way to his first Outlaw Late Model win of the year before the caution with three to go and running out of gas. He was unhappy with how the race played out and was left baffled as to why there was not a fuel stop after two-plus hours.
“I had the dominant car by far and I could see second place coming around,” Roahrig said. “There was a yellow with two to go and we ran out of gas under the yellow. Three other cars ran out of gas, I don’t know why we didn’t have a fuel stop, that totally blows my mind with as many yellow flags as we had.”
Klotz, Shawn Amor, and defending race winner J.R. Roahrig put on a fight for second late that ended with the race-deciding caution. They made it three-wide down the backstretch and Klotz backed out just before Amor and Roahrig made contact and Roahrig went around, stacking up more cars behind them. Amor would go on to finish second after winning the Modified race earlier in the night, while Roahrig was credited with a ninth place finish after damage from the incident ended his night.
“The No. 40 car got real sideways and I went to go around him and I felt a little bit on my quarter panel so I kept it straight and I came around to a pileup,” Amor said about the wreck. “I’m not sure what happened, I can’t wait to see the video. Sorry for all the cars that got tore up but it was either hit him in the door or go around him, so we chose the safe way out.”
“We had some troubles at the beginning, I wouldn’t have guessed we would’ve came back to a second. It was the first time driving the car racing at speed and we’re happy with a second,” he continued. “I wanted to get him on the start but he got me up in the marbles on that green there and I couldn’t get them cleaned off so I tried to go under him there. I wish we had a couple more laps but we’re really happy with this car for now.”
It was a special win for Klotz, whose family had owned the track for 26 years before selling it during this past offseason. He was there when the race was created, and to win it eighteen years later meant everything to he and the Klotz family.
“It’s really special, 18 years ago I sat in the room when they decided to try to run this and take a chance at it and it was such a big thing,” Klotz stated. “I didn’t run the first one but I’ve tried running every other one or I’ve ran the Sportsman when the Sportsmans were here for it. I’ve been a part of every one, I’ve been to every one, it’s one of those where it’s my dream race of the year. If I could race one, this would be the biggest one I could win in, and I got it today.”
Two-time Kalamazoo Speedway track champion Mark Shook would earn a third place finish, followed by 2017 winner Bud Perry and multi-time Owosso Speedway champion Jason Felver.
Summer Sizzler Unofficial Results:
Pos # Driver
1 40k Donny Klotz
2 6a Shawn Amor
3 57s Mark Shook
4 10p Bud Perry
5 11f Jason Felver
6 83b Andy Bozell
7 24r Tyler Roahrig
8 4t Adam Terry
9 25r JR Roahrig
10 10l Jack Landis
11 95s Steve Stacy
12 X Steve Dorer
13 5g Jeff Ganus
14 9w Kenny Whitman
15 101e Craig Everage
16 88d Andrew Devreese
17 23h Scott Hantz
18 8b Phil Bozell
19 1r Scott Ross
20 17r Corey Ryman
21 89s Jeff Stetler
22 22b Rich Boal
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51.com