On a wild, rainy night in Anderson, Indiana, Scotty Tomasik was the bravest – and best – driver in the field.
Tomasik worked his way from seventh using the outside lane to the lead on lap 38 and held the field off the rest of the way to claim the Vore’s Welding CRA Late Model Sportsman Anderson 75 at Anderson Speedway (IN).
Tomasik took the win after setting quick time during the night’s qualifying session with a 12.991-second lap around the quarter-mile oval.
Ronnie Rose started the night on the pole after Tomasik drew a seven-car invert. Rose would lead the first 22 laps of the event, leading a train of eight cars that ran nose-to-tail throughout the early stages of the race.
After nearly 20 laps spent applying pressure, JP Crabtree finally worked his way around Rose for the lead on lap 22. Crabtree would pace the field until the night’s first yellow fell on lap 38, for a spin involving the No. 41 driven by Hunter Jack.
Using the outside lane, Tomasik worked his way past his competitors to place himself in second on the ensuing restart. The 28-year-old drive would use the outside lane once again to take the lead on the restart, powering by Crabtree off of turn two.
“I had to ride for the first 30 laps and let everything sort itself out, and then the top opened up,” said Tomasik to Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We had a rocket-ship race car. I put a lot of work into this thing, and it sailed on the top. We passed everybody up there and it just wanted to go.”
Tomasik would hold the lead for the rest of the 75-lap feature, though not without challenge. In the closing laps, the No. 7 of Jason Atkinson and the No. 35 of Greg Van Alst found themselves fighting for second place directly behind the leader.
Atkinson, the points leader entering Saturday’s race, had used the bottom to drive from sixth to second. Van Alst was forced to start from the back after making repairs to his late model.
“It wasn’t a very fun night,” said Van Alst. “We came and practiced earlier today, and broke a rear end, so we had to put a different rear end in (the car), and it was not set up for this car. It was actually a five-on-five, and our car’s all wide-five. We’ve got wide-five wheels on the front and five-on-five wheels in the back.”
On the last lap, the leaders found themselves running nose-to-tail for the victory. A lapped car, driven by Larry Swinford, ran directly in front of the leaders. Unaware that they were behind him, Swinford ran his normal racing lane through turns three and four, washing up the track and making contact with Tomasik.
Despite sustaining heavy cosmetic damage, Tomasik was able to power his No. 8 Chevrolet off of turn four to take the victory.
“(Swinford) drove into the bottom of turn three, and kind of shoved up into the middle of the groove in turn four,” said Tomasik. “I was committed to the top already, and had to turn down into the bottom. I got into his bumper cover, but no harm, no foul. Everybody finished.“
Swinford, a veteran of the series, had a different opinion of the incident.
“(Tomasik) tried to crash us,” said Swinford, who finished 11th.
While Tomasik took the checkered flag, the battle for second intensified. Stacked up behind Tomasik and Swinford’s incident, Atkinson drifted up the track. Van Alst tried to take advantage of the error, but at the checkers it was Atkinson in second and Van Alst third.
“I just wanted to get around (Atkinson), but I was going to do it clean, no matter what,” said Van Alst. “He opened the door a little in (turn two) and gave me the inside lane, and a lapped car coming off of turn four just.. I don’t know. Just one of them racing deals, I guess.”
“He was trying to get out of the way, and sometimes that hurts you more than trying to just run your line. The leader and him got together, and I turned down underneath Atkinson.”
Atkinson had an adventurous run to second.
“We were pretty good, but we got held up three wide a couple times, and (Tomasik) got around us then,” said Atkinson. “I don’t think if he couldn’t have gotten around us then, that he could’ve got us. We caught him there towards the end, but the lapped car played a factor.”
“I thought the lapped car might be in my favor, and I might win that way because I’ve lost a couple that way, but it cost us a spot again.”
Swinford apologized for costing Atkinson a position.
“I didn’t mean to cost Jason (Atkinson) the race, at all,” said Swinford. “Scotty (Tomasik) came in and blasted me, and I didn’t know they were there. I watched the flagman lap-for-lap.”
Early leader JP Crabtree would come home in fourth, with Jack Dossey III rounding out the top five. Billy VanMeter, Matthew Parsons, Tony Brutti, Hunter Jack, and Chris Brann made up the back half of the top-10.
The caution flag flew only twice in the late model feature, for spins featuring Jack and Swinford on laps 37 and 42.
With his challengers right behind him, Tomasik summed the race best.
“I just never looked back. If you look back, you make mistakes. Just keep driving forward,” said Tomasik. “I knew that somebody would let me know if they got up to my door, and it never happened, so we just kept driving forward. Some lapped cars were kind of dicing it up in front of us, and that made it a good race. I’m just glad to put on a good show for the fans.”
-By Aaron Bearden, Speed51.com Midwest Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com