Darren Long grabs SOD season opener. Darren Long from Elida, OH took his first win of the 2003 season in fine fashion by besting a field of 38 cars. "I was disappointed that Mike (Woodring) took the (front row) Challenge." Stated Long. "I was ...
Darren Long grabs SOD season opener.
Darren Long from Elida, OH took his first win of the 2003 season in fine fashion by besting a field of 38 cars. "I was disappointed that Mike (Woodring) took the (front row) Challenge." Stated Long. "I was looking forward to starting up front with him. I was really looking forward to racing with one of the best there is. The track was in good shape, you could race anywhere to get through the traffic. My crew gave me a great car that I could drive anywhere."
Mike Woodring was scheduled to start the 30-lap affair from the pole position. However, an extra $500 from Rose City Motors to start at the tail and win convinced him to do just that. This would put Mark Steman on the pole, and he set sail after taking the green flag. The battle for the second position came early. Long, Aaron Shaffer, Dustin Daggett and Sean Robinson were three and four wide racing for position. The first big move of the night was Long passing Shaffer on the highside in turn four on the fourth lap. One lap later, Long made a pass for the lead in the same corner. "I was just biding my time." Said Long. "I knew I was as fast or faster than them (the lead cars) and I was just waiting to catch lapped traffic or for them to bobble. Then I think I found the rubber a little earlier then they did. They were running below it and I went up in it and sailed on around them."
As long was increasing his advantage, the battle for the second spot was under way once again. The 85 of Daggett followed Long around the highside of the track and soon took over second on lap 7 and began to reel in Long. As Long began to close on some lapped traffic, all eyes were on the red 16 of Woodring. By lap 10, Woodring had moved up to 11th place, after starting 21st. Just as the leaders entered lapped traffic, disaster struck the second place car of Daggett. A right rear tire that was losing air pressure caused the crowd favorite to slip over the banking in turn four and hit the wall ending his evening.
The lap 15 restart had Long up front, with three lapped cars as a cushion between him and Shaffer who was running second. Jim Wohlfeil had moved into the third position, with Steman and John Gall in fifth. Long quickly opened up a straightaway lead over second place of Wohlfeil two laps later. On lap 18, Woodring and Dain Naida were both working traffic like the two former champions know how. Naida, who started 20th, had been following Woodring up through the field, and by lap 19, Woodring was sixth, with Naida in seventh. Two laps later, Wooding would move past Gall for fifth, then pick off Steman for fourth on lap 23.
Caution flew on lap 24 for Fred Bliss and Ben Rutan who had made contact in turn four sending both cars spinning. Now, Long had 5 lapped cars as a cushion over second place Shaffer. On the restart, Long once again quickly built up a huge lead, as second place Shaffer began to fade. Wohlfeil passed Shaffer one lap later, then Shaffer pulled off the track with rear end problems. The final caution flew on lap 28 when the 19 of Erin Crocker and 61f of Tom Fedorczyk made contact in turn four. This would leave a 2 lap shootout for the win, but Long still had 5 lapped cars before the now second place car of Woodring. Long would pull away the final two laps for his first win of the 2003 season. Woodring would come home second, followed by Wohlfeil, Gall, and Steman in the top five. Rutan, Ronnie Beale, Bliss, Naida and Fedorczyk would round out the top 10.
Rookie of the year contender Aaron Warnock blew a motor in heat race action, and was not able to return. Jerry Whitney flipped on the opening lap of the first B-main event, ending his evening. Whitney walked away uninjured. Up next for the SOD sprinters is May 2nd at Hartford Speedway Park in Hartford, MI. For more information, be sure to log on to the official SOD web site at www.sprintsondirt.com.