By Ken de la Bastide
CNHI News Service
ANDERSON, Ind. —
After taking a year off from racing, Curtis Chapman returned to victory circle at Anderson Speedway in the WMDH Thunder Car 100.
Chapman set fast and led all 100 laps to open the season Saturday with a victory, but it wasn’t a walk in the park.
For the first 64 laps Chapman was pressed by Eric Evans with Nick Warner, Robbie Wyman and Johnny Magee running in a tight formation.
On lap 65 Evans got loose coming off the fourth corner, made a dramatic save of the car, but was passed by Warner. Warner stayed glued to Chapman’s rear bumper until the finish.
Wyman passed Evans to claim the third spot on lap 74 with Magee coming home in fifth.
The race was slowed only by four caution flags and the race stayed green from lap 32 to the finish.
Paul Phipps used a slower car as the perfect pick to keep Nick Warner at bay on the penultimate lap to win the Front Wheel Driver feature.
Warner and Phipps battled side by side for ten laps with Warner using the momentum on the high side to hold off Phipps, who was running in the low groove.
On lap 17 Phipps was able to clearly get inside of Warner entering turn one and emerged with the lead and the victory. Warner finished second followed by Marshall Clark Jr.
Andy Jones passed Aaron Holden on the final restart with four laps remaining with an outside pass to win the opening Legends race of the season in what became a race of attrition.
Josh Dietz recovered from being sent to the tail of the field on lap 10 to pass Holden to grab the second spot followed by Holden, Eric Black and Zach Holden.
Being on the point was not the place to be during the Legend feature as three of the front runners all experienced problems.
Bryan Nuckles was the early leader when he tangled with fast qualifier Jack Dossey Jr. on the back straight on lap five. Dossey’s night was finished and Nuckles went to the rear of the field.
The next leader to have a problem was Jack Dossey III, who was spun on the front straight on lap 10 by second place running Dietz. Both drivers were sent to the tail of the field.
That put John Robbins into the lead, but his night ended on lap 19 when his car erupted in flames on the back straight. Robbins was uninjured.
Fast qualifier James Edsel worked his way through the field to take the lead from Marty Griffin with an inside pass entering turn three on lap 14 and went on to record the Thunder Roadster win.
Griffin finished second with Doug Dugger claiming the third spot.