Hartford SOD race notes 2003-05-02

Ben Rutan takes SOD point lead with Hartford win. Ben Rutan from Jerome, MI took his first win of the season by passing early race leader Dain Naida on lap 10 to claim the 20 lap event. "The track was perfect tonight." Stated Rutan, "The...

Ben Rutan takes SOD point lead with Hartford win.

Ben Rutan from Jerome, MI took his first win of the season by passing early race leader Dain Naida on lap 10 to claim the 20 lap event. "The track was perfect tonight." Stated Rutan, "The track crew had the track in great shape. It was smooth and fast from top to bottom. My guys gave me a perfect car to drive, and it was up to me to finish the job."

Sean Robinson would lead the field down to take the green flag, and quickly jumped out to an early lead. Robinson kept his sprinter on the low side of the speedway, while Dain Naida entered turn one on the topside. Robinson exited turn two in the lead, but Naida had the better bite coming out of the corner and passed Robinson for the lead entering turn three. Meanwhile, the battle for third was beginning to take shape. Jim Wohlfeil, Mark Stemen, Fred Bliss, Rutan and Dustin Daggett waged a war that had cars three wide for four laps until a caution came out on lap 5 for the spun sprinters of Eddie Smith and Tom Fedorczyk. Front end damage to the Smith machine would end his evening. Under the caution, Daggett who had just passed Rutan for the fifth position would exit the track with a tire going flat. Daggett would get the tire changed and return to the race before the field went back to green.

The restart had Naida up front, with Robinson, Wohlfeil, Stemen and Rutan in tow. Entering turn one, Rutan made a daring three wide move on the top side to push him into third, then down to the bottom entering turn three to move past Robinson to take over second. At this point, Naida had built up a 20-car length advantage. Daggett, who restarted at the tail, was working his way back to the front. On lap 8, Rutan was reeling in the race leader as the duo began to close in on the tail of the field. Just as Naida closed in on the back bumper of the first back marker, Rutan was able to keep his momentum coming out of turn two and took the lead on lap 10.

Rutan would pull away from the field leaving a furious battle for the second position. Naida, Wohlfeil, Jason Blonde, Daggett, Robinson, and Stemen all were racing two and three wide fighting for position. By lap 15, Blonde had moved into fourth behind Wohlfeil, with Daggett close in tow as the group was working lapped cars. Blonde moved past Wohlfeil on lap 18 to take over third, and then set his sites on Naida who was still running second.

As Rutan took the white flag, he had lapped up to eighth place, and was lurking on the seventh place car of Dave Fox. Just as Rutan entered turn three, disaster struck the fourth place car of Wohlfeil as he made contact with the turn two wall, sending him into a series of flips, bringing out the red flag with 19 laps in the book. " We actually took the checkered flag twice." Stated Rutan in victory lane, "I saw the flag waving, then the red came on, but I was not sure if we had crossed the line yet."

After tending to Wohlfeil, the 64-year-old driver would walk away uninjured. Rutan would restart at the point, but had a four lapped car buffer between him and second place Naida. As the field entered turn one, Blonde made a highside move passed Naida to take over second, while Stemen would make a move past Robinson for fifth. At the line, Rutan took the win buy 15 car lengths over Blonde, Naida, Daggett and Stemen in the top five. Robinson, Fox, Ronnie Beale, Bliss, and Fedorczyk would round out the top 10.

Up next for the SOD Sprinters is the Spring Nationals to be held on Friday, May 16 at Ionia Raceway Park. Then Saturday, May 17 at Crystal Motor Speedway for a $1200 to win, $225 to start the A-main event. For more information, be sure to log onto the official SOD web site at www.sprintsondirt.com

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Series Sprint