East keeps challengers at bay for IRP win

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East keeps challengers at bay for IRP win

Despite predictions of thunderstorms, the final USAC Silver Crown Series pavement event of 2005 was completed on a dry track at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Part of the three-day Kroger Speedfest, the J.D. Byrider 100 was the last pavement race...

Despite predictions of thunderstorms, the final USAC Silver Crown Series pavement event of 2005 was completed on a dry track at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Part of the three-day Kroger Speedfest, the J.D. Byrider 100 was the last pavement race for the current Silver Crown chassis. USAC has introduced a new generation of pavement cars scheduled to race the 2006 season.

Bobby East.
Photo by Kenneth Plotkin.
NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers Kasey Kahne, Jason Leffler and Carl Edwards strapped into a Silver Crown sprint car for the night. Leffler, driving for Panther Racing, qualified on the pole with a fast lap of 21.115 seconds on the one-mile oval. Defending event champion Jay Drake drove his Tony Stewart owned car to the outside of row one. Kahne started directly behind Leffler on the second row after running the third quickest qualifying lap.

In front of packed stands and a full grassy hillside Drake took the lead as the green flag waved. Kahne and Leffler drove side by side the first few laps. On lap 14 a strong Bobby East in the Klatt Enterprises machine took the lead from Drake.

The first yellow occurred on lap 22 when Kevin Swindell spun his car in turn 3. Two cars pitted during the yellow including Brad Armstrong who needed air in his tires which Tony Stewart himself helped the crew perform.

East led the restart followed by Drake, Leffler and Kahne. Dave Steele, who has dominated Silver Crown pavement races this year found himself in the middle of the pack after having problems on the initial start of the race.

Drake's hopes of repeating a win were dashed after the 50 lap halfway point when his car broke on the backstretch. Unsure of the cause, his crew was not able to get him back out to complete any more laps.

The second yellow occurred on lap 90 when Marc Jessup spit flames and the car was brought back to the pits on the hook. With only 10 laps remaining, no laps run under yellow were counted. This time East was followed to the green flag by Leffler, Josh Wise and Kahne only to have another yellow on the start up. East was able to pull away on the restart though and built his lead again.

With 5 laps to go a yellow flag was thrown for a spun car giving Leffler another shot at East. Lapped traffic separated Leffler, Wise and Kahne. But again, East had a good restart and was able to hold off Leffler.

On lap 98 Kahne bumped the wall in turn 1 and brought out the final yellow of the night, eliminating his hopes for a podium finish. But the yellow set up a dash to the checkered with Leffler immediately behind East on the restart with 2 laps to go.

East's Ford motor had what it needed to pull off the victory putting him in the record books as the last champion in this pavement chassis. He was joined on the podium by Leffler and Wise.

East will attempt to continue his winning streak tomorrow night at IRP in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race driving a Ford F150 for Roush Racing. Leffler and Kahne will wait until Sunday at the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard to race for a win.

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