Wisconsin Dells, Wis (May 17, 2003)--Eddie Hoffman won the NASCAR Elite Division, International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series, Spring Sizzler 200, Saturday night at Wisconsin Dells Motor Speedway. The triumph broke a winless streak...
Wisconsin Dells, Wis (May 17, 2003)--Eddie Hoffman won the NASCAR Elite Division, International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series, Spring Sizzler 200, Saturday night at Wisconsin Dells Motor Speedway. The triumph broke a winless streak that hadn't seen Hoffman find victory lane since the end of the 2001 campaign.
Hoffman crossed the finish line 2.458 seconds ahead of Brian Hoppe. Rookies Eric Fransen and Jeremy Lepak; and twelfth starting Ron Breese, Jr rounded out the top five.
Hoffman took the lead from Hoppe with 45 laps remaining and pulled away to the impressive win.
"Brian wasn't that good after restarts and I took advantage of it," said Hoffman. "My car stayed good."
Justin Diercks started from the pole and got a jump on the field at the drop of the green. Fransen started from the outside front row, but got pinned in the outside lane, sending him back several positions early on as the preferred, inside, lane took off.
In the early going, Diercks' Chevrolet proved to be a handful for the young driver and he slipped back through the pack. NASCAR Busch Series regular Tim Sauter, making a return to his home track behind the wheel of Jeff Victor's potent Ford, motored past to lead the field.
On lap 39 however, as Sauter went around the lapped car of Josh Vadnais, contact with the lapped car sent both machines spinning. Sauter quickly righted his ride, but the yellow waved and on the restart he lined up eighth.
"I was passing him on the outside and he must have gotten in a little hard," said Sauter. "He got into my left rear and just turned me around."
With Sauter's misfortune, Hoppe inherited the lead. Hoffman lined up directly behind him with Diercks, Fransen and Nathan Haseleu following.
Hoppe and Hoffman spent the next 100 laps putting on a brilliant show for the fans. The pair swapped the lead five times in that segment, with the most daring being a three-wide move that saw Hoffman go beneath the lapped car of Pete Moore and Hoppe.
"That move was from the short track days," said Hoffman. "This is a true short track and we all made it out of that move okay."
The complexion of the race changed however, on lap 127, when Vadnais, Dave Finney and Chris Bires were involved in a grinding crash in the middle of the back straightaway. Bires was able to continue, but Vadnais and Finney were done for the night, their rides having suffered extensive damage.
"After that last yellow, the car just didn't come back to where it needed to," said Hoppe. "We were a little soft. Eddie by far had the better car after the yellow."
Defending Midwest Series champion Steve Carlson was never a factor, qualifying sixteenth and placing ninth in the 200-lap main event.
That allowed Breese and Fransen to move ahead of Carlson in the championship standings. The pair have the same point total, but Breese gets the nod in NASCAR's tie breaker system.
"This EWT, Inc Chevrolet has been phenomenal lately," said Breese. "I don't know if this is the point where we make our bid for a points championship or not, but I think we're one of the one's to beat."
The win was Hoffman's 12 career Midwest Series triumph and vaults him from 19 to sixth, early on, in the 2003 championship standings.
The International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series is back in action, Sunday, May 25, with the All-Star 150 at Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Illinois.