Harris beats tough LPIR Late Model field COEBURN - Lonesome Pine International Raceway had its share of Fourth of July fireworks both on and above the track Friday night as Chad Harris claimed a victory in the 100-lap Late Model Stock feature ...
Harris beats tough LPIR Late Model field
COEBURN - Lonesome Pine International Raceway had its share of Fourth of July fireworks both on and above the track Friday night as Chad Harris claimed a victory in the 100-lap Late Model Stock feature portion of the U.S. Army 265 racing program.
Harris, who makes the five-hour tow each week from Stuarts Draft, fought off the early challenges from Steve Blackburn to beat one of the strongest fields of the season at the .375-mile NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series oval.
The special Friday holiday race marked the first appearance this season at LPIR by 2002 track NASCAR Atlantic Region champion Wade Day. He qualified 10th quickest and was able to fight his way to fifth in the running order by lap 42 before finishing sixth.
Harris took the checkered flag ahead of Matt Wolfe, Steve Blackburn, Eric McClure and Michael Kidd in the second through fifth finishing positions.
Blackburn provided the biggest surprise of the night when he snatched the pole with the top lap in time trials.
Blackburn jumped to the early lead and held it for the first 10 laps. Throughout the first 16 laps, he and Harris raced side by side for the lead. Blackburn and Harris were still dueling for first place when lapped cars appeared ahead of them. As the two were vying for position on lap 15 at the exit of the second turn, the lapped car of Steve Treadway was thrown into the mix to create a three-wide situation that Harris used to get the lead.
"I got into one and the car took off on me and I got hit a little hard and got into his side of him," said Harris of the sequence that put him ahead of Blackburn for the lead. "He stayed right there and he was digging on the outside. My hat's off to him. He did a heck of a job."
Blackburn eventually slipped to third behind Wolfe after keeping the large crowd standing through the early laps.
"I couldn't believe I was running up there beside him," said Blackburn of his battle with Harris. "We wanted to win, but finishing in the top three, you can't ask for much better than that."
Wolfe, who was coming off a lackluster race the previous weekend, came back with something to prove. Wolfe qualified second quickest to start alongside Blackburn, but he had fallen back to third by the fourth laps. By lap 20, he was challenging Blackburn for second. Wolfe made several attempts to get under Blackburn, even running side by side with him for a number of laps, before eventually taking the second position on lap 35 and remaining there for the rest of the night.
Kidd and McClure were racing each other for the fourth position throughout the race. Kidd and McClure slid up the track in turns three and four of the second lap, opening the door for Kres VanDyke to slip through and take fourth place. VanDyke remained in fourth position until lap 20 when McClure advanced past him, bumping him to fifth.
McClure began battling Blackburn for third, but McClure triggered a caution flag on lap 42 when he spun trying to race hard for spot.
Day was lurking in fifth place behind the leaders for the restart. On lap 43, the yellow flag was thrown again as a result of debris on the track. When the green flag was dropped, Kidd and Day kept the crowd on its feet by running side by side for several laps. Day's car broke loose on the backstretch of lap 55, but he was able to hold his position.
Sparks began to show under VanDyke's car on lap 58 and the yellow flag appeared two laps later as his car began smoking. VanDyke parked his car and attributed the problem to a failed clutch.
When green-flag racing resumed, the remaining 40 laps were full of beating and banging all the way to the finish.
On lap 87, Day, Kidd and McClure raced three-wide for position. As Day faded to sixth, McClure challenged Kidd again on lap 93 before taking the fourth position on lap 94.
Action resumes at LPIR Saturday at 7 p.m. with a full slate of races.