On Friday night a small dirt track in Conneaut, Ohio was the site of one of the craziest finishes of the 2016 racing season. Two cars door-to-door in turn three, one car almost backwards in turn four, those same two cars side-by-side coming to the checkered flag, the crowd going crazy and no fighting.
Does it sound almost unbelievable? We can’t blame you if it does sound unbelievable, but that’s exactly what happened last Friday night at Raceway 7.
Dennis Lunger and Darrell Bossard were the stars of this wild finish. Bossard was on the bottom in his No. 213 Crate Late Model, and Lunger was on the top side in his No. 71L. The two made contact in turn three and Lunger, who had the lead, started to spin. At one point he was almost facing backwards, but he got his machine straightened out and drag-raced with Bossard to the checkered flag with third-place runner Kyle Zimmerman charging hard just behind them.
Lunger beat Bossard to the checkered flag by 0.015 second.
“When I was sitting backwards the only thing that was going through my mind was holding it to the wood and hoping for the best,” Lunger told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I really didn’t think we were going to win that race. I just put it to the wood and hoped for the best and it all worked out there in the end.”
Lunger, who also races a Modified at Raceway 7, said he didn’t realize just how turned around he actually was, and he didn’t get to fully experience what had just happened because he had to go hop into the Modified.
“I really didn’t have a lot of time to let it all soak in when I was in victory lane,” Lunger said. “To me it was just a racing deal. Me and Darrell have been good friends for a long time. I really wasn’t upset with him. He knew the high side was prevailing in that race. I was beating him off the high side the entire race. I think he knew the only chance he had going into that last corner was for him to move up a bit and we just made a little bit of contact. It was quite the interesting finish.”
While Lunger says that Bossard moved up in the final corner, Bossard’s take, naturally, is just a little bit different.
“Honestly what was going through my head was I can’t believe he turned across my nose that much and almost cost us both the race,” Bossard said. “I was kind of in shock. I was going to the bottom, he’d been around the top and when he came down, I mean I realize he probably wasn’t going to want to give me as much room as he had been. But when he came down and touched my right front I literally had lost control of my car and I was in a skate up the race track with him.”
At that point Bossard was left with two options.
“Once I got to where I could control my car I had the option of turning to the right and spinning him around and possibly going over the bank myself, or I started easing back into the gas, turned into his door and started driving to his fender,” said Bossard. “That straightened both of us out and gave us the chance to finish the race.”
A lot of times finishes like this are so crazy that the drivers involved can’t even be angry at each other. They get out of the car and smile and laugh and talk about how cool it was to be involved in something like that. Depending on who you talk to, this finish isn’t one of those happy situations.
“I know he likes to blast me on Facebook and say that it’s all my fault, but everyone I’ve talked to say he turned across my nose,” Bossard said. “I’m not going to get into the social media drama and stuff like that. You won’t see me post on there. If he wants to talk about it he’s more than welcome to call me.”
Bossard said he and Lunger have always gotten along and helped each other out in the past, so he was surprised at the social media comments, but Lunger swears there haven’t been any negative social media posts on his end.
“I haven’t said anything on social media about Darrell,” said Lunger. “I’ve seen what other people have said. A couple people said I turned down, but to that I say watch the video. It was the same line I ran the whole race. I haven’t said anything about Darrell. I actually asked people on there to stop saying things about Darrell. There were a couple people saying ‘Dirty Darrell’ and I put a stop to that. As far as me, I haven’t said anything about Darrell.”
Both drivers have said that they will talk on Friday night, the next time they’re at the race track together. And maybe then they’ll be able to smile and laugh and talk about how cool it was to be involved in something like that.
“We’ve been friends for a long time,” said Lunger. “It was just a racing deal on my end. Both of us were going for the win, and it’s racing. That’s what happens. But it sure did put on a good show for the fans. The fans love that and that’s what our sport needs right now.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Raceway 7 Facebook