WINCHESTER, Ind. (September 23, 2001) -- In a race similar to many of the previous 31 showdowns, the Winchester 400 came down to just the final laps, as Joey Clanton held off three-time Winchester 400 winner Mike Cope in a dramatic showdown to...
WINCHESTER, Ind. (September 23, 2001) -- In a race similar to many of the previous 31 showdowns, the Winchester 400 came down to just the final laps, as Joey Clanton held off three-time Winchester 400 winner Mike Cope in a dramatic showdown to take his third win of the 2001 season. For Clanton, racing with Cope was the perfect thing to turn around his season, as the two have had several run-ins over the season, including in ASA's last event at Memphis Motorsprots Park.
"Mike (Cope) really knows how to get around this place," said Clanton, who now has four career ASA wins and moved himself into third in the points. "I knew I couldn't lift or he would be around me. You really have to stay focused on getting around the middle of the corners."
Clanton took the lead on lap 332 when pole sitter David Stremme, who dominated much of the race, missed a shift coming to the green flag. Clanton held onto the point until late in the race, when Cope closed within one car length. Cope made several attempts to get by Clanton late in the race, but to no avail.
"We did some rubbing toward the end," said Clanton. "I knew he wouldn't have wrecked me toward the end. To win at Winchester is really special. It is one of the toughest short track races there is."
Cope, who was involved in several incidents during the afternoon, led the most laps, but ended up with his second career runner up finish, his first coming in Nashville earlier this season.
"I was waiting for him to slip," said Cope. "He did once, but I wasn't in a position to take it from him. We had our share of stuff in the past, but it was nice to race him clean for the win."
The race was a typical Winchester 400, as the afternoon took its tool on the field. One of the pre-race favorites, Mike Miller, was taken out of the event in a first lap accident that also involved Indianapolis' Tim Taylor. Only three cars, including third-place Mike Garvey, finished on the lead lap, and only 17 of the 32 starts were running at the end.
National Championship points leader Johnny Sauter had a bad afternoon, as he was involved in a accident early and finished 12th, 19 laps off the pace. With that finish, we was not able to lock up the championship and will head to the season finale still looking to wrap up his first ASA National Championship. Sauter is now 108 points ahead of St. Amant.
ASA closes the 2001 season on Saturday, September 29th with the tirerace.com 200 at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Clermont (IN). Activities begin on Friday, September 28th, with ASA practice starting at noon and qualifications at 5 p.m. Race day events begin with spectator gates opening at 3 p.m., followed by the on-track autograph session at 5. The tirerack.com 200 will take the green flag at 7 p.m. (local) and will be telecast live on TNN Sports.