Hardesty Scores Second Hutch Nationals Win in NCRA Modified Series HUTCHINSON, Kan. (July 15, 2006) -- Former series regular Dave Hardesty took the early lead from the outside pole and roared to victory Saturday in the O'Reilly NCRA Modified ...
Hardesty Scores Second Hutch Nationals Win in NCRA Modified Series
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (July 15, 2006) -- Former series regular Dave Hardesty took the early lead from the outside pole and roared to victory Saturday in the O'Reilly NCRA Modified Series, presented by ICM/Ethanol.
It was his second win in the prestigious 50th Annual Hutchinson Grand National Auto Races.
"I haven't been racing very much but we always like to come down here to the Nationals so we thought we'd make another NCRA show here," said Hardesty of only his second NCRA show this season.
They went three-wide into turn one at the green -- Brian Franz low, pole sitter Mike Jarvis inside, and Hardesty on the outside. They shook out of turn two with Hardesty in front, followed by Franz and Jarvis. Rounding out the early top five were Jason Friesen and Brian Casey.
Franz, the defending three-time series champion and current point leader, quickly began to reel in the leader. By lap 10, Brian had closed to Hardesty's bumper, looking for a way around. Lapped traffic two circuits later helped Franz poke his nose low a couple of times but to no avail.
"I bobbled a couple of times in three and four and I could hear him (Franz) up on me," Dave said. "I knew that he was close and I couldn't make any more mistakes."
While the battle tightened up front, Jarvis had moved up to challenge Friesen for third. Behind them, Casey had lost fifth place to Brian McGowen but was still in the hunt for that position, along with 2005 Hutch Nationals champion Greg Stephens.
After a dozen caution-free laps, there were five cautions over the final eight laps. On the third restart, this one for lap 16, Hardesty, Franz, and Friesen pulled away slightly from the field. Close behind were McGowen, Casey, and Stephens in a chase group.
Franz managed to slip inside Hardesty a couple of times but lost his momentum each time and couldn't complete the pass.
"I think I was too cautious when Franz was pressuring me towards the end, afraid I would make a mistake," Hardesty said.
Dave didn't make any more mistakes -- at least not any big enough Franz could capitalize on. It was Hardesty at the checker, winning his third career NCRA modified race, with two of them coming at the Hutchinson Nationals.
"Anytime you can finish good here -- winning's great, but finishing good is just about like winning here," he said.
Franz, the current season point leader, finished second as his quest for a Hutch Nationals win fell a bit short this season. He has 20 career NCRA wins, none in this race.
"I knew Brian would be there, especially since he hadn't won here and wants this one bad," Hardesty said. "He's a hard racer and I'm just glad I was able to stay in front of him."
In third was Friesen, the 2005 NCRA Modified Series Rookie of the Year.
Both Casey and Stephens got around McGowen on the final lap to finish fourth and fifth, respectively.
Hardesty's usually not comfortable with a lofty starting position like he had tonight.
"I have a lot of pressure when I start up front," he said. "If you start in the second row you can advance and that's good. If you start up front and you don't advance, that's bad."
For Hardesty, winning this event a second time was perhaps even more satisfying than the first time around.
"To be able to come back and win here again -- with my family and some of my sponsors here -- is really good, no more than I've been racing is really good," he said.