Auto Racing: Eddie Hoffman wins Grundy County Speedway late-model opener
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org April 25, 2014 11:06PM
Cheryl Hryn (8) and Renee Farren battle it out during heat race action in the street stock division Friday night at Grundy County Speedway. | Brian Nolte/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 28, 2014 6:40AM
Opening night at Grundy County Speedway saw a familiar name in the late-model winner’s circle. But it was far from same old, same old.
Eddie Hoffman didn’t get there without a challenge from Scott Koerner.
“A whole lot of challenge,” Hoffman declared after capturing the 44-lap event. “I didn’t really think we were going to get there. Scottie was running really good.”
An opener couldn’t have been much better.
Koerner, of Joliet, led the race from laps 11 through 40. For most of them he had Hoffman behind him. For about five, he had Hoffman all over him.
Assertive pushes elevated to a pretty hard shove as the duo went into Turn 1 on lap 41. Koerner’s No. 55 got sideways on the backstretch and pointed toward the infield. Hoffman went to the top of the track and checked up.
The breath-holding lasted for about five seconds before Koerner reeled his car in, Hoffman reaccerlated on the outside, and the duo of Larry Schuler and Chris Cooling pulled up behind them.
The four-car pack stayed that way for the rest of the lap before Hoffman was able to clear Koerner.
“I didn’t really want to knock him off the bottom,” Hoffman said of Koerner. “We ended up getting him a little bit when he started to slow down in the corners.
“It wasn’t intentional what I did (on lap 41), and he was really fair about it. He’s always been fair. So if I had finished second today to Scottie I’d have been OK. But you’ve got to try.”
Unruffled by the incident, Koerner was able to regain his momentum and finish second.
“I need to go start working out because I was worn out by the end. I think that’s what did me in,” Koerner joked. “He got me a little bit loose coming off of Turn 2 and, yeah, that happens. I had it fully locked to the right. I didn’t want to spin out and go to the back. I still have to pay my tire bill.
“It’s the same car from last year. We just made some changes to it.”
Schuler outlasted Cooling for third, while James Gregait, Billy Knippenberg and defending track champion Ricky Baker were fifth through seventh.
A wild finish in the Mid-American feature saw Kevin Murphy tap Chuck Yuris as they headed toward the white flag. A melee behind them ensued, with Murphy emerging as the winner. Joe Vinachi finished second, ahead of Jim Kachel, Matt Clemens, Yuris and John McMahon.
Christy Penrod, who was the 2013 street stock rookie of the year, won the first feature of her career in that division with a gritty effort in which she rebuffed challenges from Jake Bradley and then Eddie Ligue. Ligue was second, followed by Bradley, Kyle Carlson, Tim Stewart and Robin Scamen.
Ryan Lagestee won the 4-cylinder feature.