On a hot summer night in Indiana, Johnny VanDoorn was challenged by his competitors and the scorching heat during the closing laps of Monday's 53rd Annual Redbud 400. But nothing was going to stop him from reaching victory lane at Anderson Speedway. The Coopersville, Michigan driver battled through the pain and outlasted all challengers to win his third career Redbud, and his first since the race returned to its traditional 400-lap distance.
Upon pulling into Victory Lane, VanDoorn was immediately greeted by series officials and medical personnel who helped him out of his Super Late Model and began treating him for heat exhaustion. After drinking water and getting cooled down, he delivered an emotional message that explained why he wasn't going to give up on this particular summer night.
"My dad's expected to pass away here any minute, and there was no way I was pulling in," VanDoorn said while fighting back tears. "This one is for him.
"This one is for you dad. I love you."
VanDoorn dominated the majority of the 400-lap Super Late Model race before being challenged by Jack Dossey III over the final 30 laps. Dossey was able to grab the lead from VanDoorn on Lap 373 but after swapping a little bit of paint in true Anderson Speedway fashion, VanDoorn reclaimed the lead 10 laps later on Lap 383.
From there, VanDoorn pulled away to score one of the most meaningful and most emotional wins of his impressive racing career.
"Butch (VanDoorn) gave me such an awesome car," he said. "I kind of thought we were in a little bit of trouble there by pitting when we did with the 20 car (Jack Dossey III) and the other car (Daniel Hemric) coming with fresher tires. Man, the thing was just so good I was able to hold them off."
After the race, a true display of sportsmanship was on display as Dossey's crew rushed over to VanDoorn's car and used one of the team's fans to help VanDoorn cool off. That was a deed that didn't go unnoticed by VanDoorn once he stepped up onto the stage in Victory Lane.
"Hats off to the sportsmanship of the 20 car," the race winner stated. "We battled for the win and his guys came over and gave me a fan to help cool me down. That's what racing's all about. We beat and banged, exchanged tire marks, but that's what Anderson's all about and I appreciate it."
Dossey, who won the ARCA/CRA Super Series race held at Anderson earlier this year, ended the night with a strong runner-up performance. After pitting for his final set of tires with less than 75 laps to go, Dossey thought that his team had brewed up the prefect recipe for a Redbud victory.
"All night last night we were talking about pit strategy. We really thought that was going to win the race but when you're running against JVD he's a hell of a wheelman and ran a great race, so did everybody else. It was a really good, clean race. It was the cleanest Redbud 400 and it was a lot of fun, honestly."
NASCAR Cup Series rookie Daniel Hemric set a track record in qualifying and led the field to the green flag for Monday night's race. After using a pit strategy similar to Dossey's, Hemric appeared to be in a position to challenge for the win after bolting on fresh tires with less than 75 laps to go. However, the former race winner came up just short in his bid for a second Redbud win and ultimately finished third.
"It was fun to come back here. Thanks to these fans for coming out and Anderson Speedway for having me. I never would've thought we'd run that fast in qualifying but this car was really good from the time we unloaded. Huge thanks to everyone at Wimmer Motorsports, Chris Wimmer and Jana Wimmer, for giving me the opportunity to come back and have a little short track fun.
"We took off there in the race and I could feel that something just didn't feel quite right. I let Johnny go and the next caution came out and as I went to accelerate I could feel the clutch slipping. I never would've thought we'd make it all 400 laps. Went a lap down trying to take care of the left sides and luckily got another caution to get rights on this thing. We made a charge. Never thought we'd make 400 laps, let alone come home third. So somedays you count your blessing and you move on; that's what we're going to do. Congratulation to Johnny. I hate to see him laying over there on the ground but that's a hardcore short track racer laying it all on the line, so congrats to those guys."
Former ARCA/CRA Super Series champion Cody Coughlin and defending ARCA/CRA Super Series champion Josh Brock completed the top five Monday night.
A full on-demand video replay of Monday night's broadcast can be viewed on Speed51.com by clicking here.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor - Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Redbud 400 Unofficial Results
|2||20||Jack Dossey III|
|6||35||Greg Van Alst|