ANDERSON — For most of the Thunder Car feature Saturday night, Dustin Sapp turned down a number of challengers to score his first feature win of the season.
Sapp set the fast time for the Byrider Spring Championship at Anderson Speedway and led from start to finish, but the outcome hung in the balance until the end.
Five times during the PGG Enterprises feature, the Community Hospital caution flag waved that gave Kevin Rabenstein the opportunity to challenge for the top spot.
On every restart, Rabenstein — and early in the race Robbie Wyman — attempted to use the high groove to take the point which resulted in side-by-side racing among the top five drivers.
Wyman’s night ended on Lap 19 with an overheating problem.
Early in the race, David McConnell and Ron Phipps were in contention. Phipps lost an engine on Lap 21, bringing out the final caution.
Sapp held off Rabenstein by .29 of a second to record the win followed by McConnell, Earl Adams and Dylan Hoppes. Adams started 11th in the field.
“I finally got the monkey off my back,” Sapp said in the Star Financial Winner’s Circle. “I like side-by-side racing, and everyone was racing clean.”
Sapp admitted he thought about going to the high groove for the final restart after Phipps’ lost engine oiled down the front straight.
“I figured I could straddle the oil,” he said.
Teenager Zachary Tinkle captured his first McGunegill Engine Performance win after an early caution scrambled the field.
Kent Baledge, the fast qualifier, took the lead at the start chased by Tinkle with defending champion Jeff Marcum running fourth.
By the third circuit, Marcum got inside of both Tom Miller and Tinkle and started to challenge Baledge for the lead.
With both cars loose in the corners, the two leaders got together on the 13th lap entering Turn 3. Marcum’s ride hit the outside retaining wall, ending his night. Baledge changed a right front tire and returned at the tail of the field.
That put Miller in the lead, but Tinkle was able to take the point on Lap 17 with an inside pass exiting Turn 4. Baledge moved into the second spot on Lap 23 and was attempting to close on the leader.
Tinkle maintained the point by turning laps that were equal to the circuits turned by Baledge to win by a half-second. Miller finished third, followed by Brian Morrow and Tanner Ballard.
“I don’t know what to say,” Tinkle said. “This win is for my crew that gave me a great car. The track was slick in the corners, so I had to fetter the throttle a little. Once I was in the lead, I just concentrated on running my line.”
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.