Auto Racing: Danta makes right move for win at Illiana
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org July 5, 2014 10:52PM
Anthony Danta closes in on Jeff Cannon during Saturday night's Molenaar Memorial race at Illiana Speedway. Danta eventually made the pass and claimed his first late-model feature of the season. | Goodaker Photography for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 6, 2014 2:16AM
SCHERERVILLE, Ind. — Anthony Danta spent so many laps alongside but unable to pass Jeff Cannon during Saturday night’s Molenaar Memorial race at Illiana Speedway, it had to be frustrating.
“Well, I mean, that’s racing,” he said. “We raced nice and hard. He gave me a line and we never touched once. It’s awesome when you can race that hard and have the fans enjoy it.”
It’s even more awesome when you eventually prevail, which Danta did for the first time in 2014.
The Orland Park native made his decisive move via the bottom on a lap 23 restart. He led the field over the next 12, beating Cannon to the finish line by 0.877 seconds.
“Anytime you can beat Jeff, it’s a good day,” Danta said. “The car has been really good all year, we just haven’t had the good breaks we needed to get through traffic.
“We got good traffic at the beginning of the race. When you’ve got two good cars here you’re not just going to go by them in one lap. You’ve got to work at it and pick away. We took our time.”
The early race leader was Bobby Gash, who outran front-row partner Jack Kalwasinski at the drop of the green. Kalwasinski didn’t fall back, though, and eased by Gash on lap six.
Kalwasinski stayed up front until lap 13, when on a restart Cannon used the bottom to assume the lead and took Danta with him. Cannon and Danta then put on a side-by-side driving clinic that finally shook out on lap 23.
“Whoa, he’s got a really good race car. He works hard at it, though,” Cannon said with a smile after the race. “I like to be out there (on the top), especially on restarts.
“Tradition shows you should be able to carry a little momentum, but man, that car was just phenomenal tonight. And (mine) wasn’t bad by any means, so I know he was really good. He deserves it.”
Eddie Hoffman worked his way through the pack to a third-place finish. Paul Shafer Jr. was fourth, followed by Kalwasinski, Landry Potter, Chris King, Mark Ross Jr., Paul Zolodz and Dean Patterson.
Chris Woodall’s fifth feature win of the season in the turbo stox class had a different twist: He passed the leader, Bobby Gash III, on the high side of the tight quarter-mile.
“I knew he wasn’t going to give me the bottom,” Woodall said. “I had to make it work on the outside. All you can do is hope the car sticks. It doesn’t want to stick up there, that’s for sure. Thankfully, I got it done.”
Gash, who doggedly stayed on the bottom groove, eventually was spun out in Turn 4. Ryan Moore made a daring three-wide move late in the race to take second.
Moore was followed by Billy Jarrells, Bill Serviss, Wesley Dennis and Michael Gerike.
Paul Shafer Jr., jumping in a legends car for the first time this season, prevailed in the main event by a large margin over Matt O’Leary. The pure stocks feature went to Jeff Law over Matt Baikie and Ryan Gilliam. Kenny Myer ruled in the bandolero feature over Kailyn Coates.