The Herald Bulletin
---- — For the past 40 years I have been traveling the Hoosier State watching auto racing at numerous venues, but the 2013 season will be one that is long remembered.
Indiana racing fans were treated to outstanding racing on both pavement and dirt ovals during the year, with open wheel pavement events taking the top two spots.
The best race of the year was the Pay Less Little 500 with Crawfordsville driver Jacob Wilson claiming the win in a thrilling finish with Kokomo hot shoe Shane Cottle.
Wilson grabbed the lead from Cottle on lap 335 when Chet Fillip blocked the leader as the field was coming to a restart and Fillip was trying not to fall a lap down.
Wilson and Cottle raced in lock step for the next 155 laps when things got really interesting. Cottle closed to the rear bumper of Wilson and challenged for the lead with five laps remaining. Unfortunately for Cottle his Larry Contos owned sprint car lost an engine. Instead of bringing out the caution flag, Cottle dove into the pits.
For Wilson it was his first Little 500 win. He was followed to the checkers by pole sitter JoJo Helberg, Eric Gordon and Tony Elliott, all on the lead lap. Fillip finished fifth, two laps down followed by Cottle.
The second best race of the year was the record setting Indianapolis 500 won by fan favorite Tony Kanaan.
Kanaan passed Ryan Hunter-Reay in the waning laps of the spring classic, winning under caution when Dario Franchitti made contact with the outside wall entering turn one.
The race featured a record 68 lead changes among 14 different drivers and Kanaan’s winning speed of 187.433 miles per hour set another record.
Third on the list is the Winchester 400 for the ARCA/CRA super late models with Erik Jones taking the lead from Chase Elliott on lap 352 during the final round of pit stops.
Jones held off Elliott for the final 34 laps to win by a half second. Mason Mingus, Augie Grill and Daniel Hemric rounded out the top five.
Fourth on my list is the ARCA series race at Salem Speedway in April. Tom Hessert passed Spencer Gallagher in a Green-White-Checker finish for his third career win. There were numerous lead changes during the race and several caution periods.
I placed the Brickyard 400 next on the top races of 2013 because the win came down to pit strategy during the final pit stop. Ryan Newman opted to take two tires while Jimmie Johnson changed four tires.
After all the drivers completed their final stops, Newman led the final 11 circuits to beat Johnson by 2.67-seconds. Kasey Kahne finished third followed by Tony Stewart.
The Stoops Freightliner Red Bud 300 is next with Michigan driver Johnny VanDoorn passing Travis Braden on the back straight following a restart with 146 laps remaining. For VanDoorn it was a win in the second leg of the $100,000 challenge sponsored by JEGS.
He held off T.J. Reaid, Ross Kenseth, Eddie VanMeter and Braden for the victory.
Next on my list is the National Crown at Anderson Speedway for the outlaw Figure-8 cars, a race that saw several early leaders eliminated by incidents in the cross-over.
Jeff Shackleford and Jesse Tunney staged a heated battle for the victory over the final 86 laps with Robbie Loving, R.J. Norton III and Steve Durham rounding out the top five.
Other races on my list included the three days of racing at Kokomo Speedway for the USAC Sprints. The best drive of the three nights of racing was turned in by Cottle, who passed started last in the B-Main, drove to the win and then finished fourth in the feature.
Curtis Chapman’s bump and run pass of Johny Magee on lap 57 to win the NASH-FM 100-lap feature at Anderson Speedway and Josh Poore’s dominating win in the CRA Street Stock 200.
Follow Ken de la Bastide @KendelaBastide on Twitter, or call 640-4863.