Auto Racing: Eddie Hoffman outlasts Anthony Danta for late-model win at Illiana Speedway
By Tony Baranek email@example.com August 2, 2014 10:30PM
Eddie Hoffman (8) holds his ground on the outside in a side-by-side battle with Anthony Danta in Saturday night's late-model feature at Illiana Speedway. | Goodaker Photography/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 4, 2014 6:52AM
SCHERERVILLE, Ind. — The past few Saturdays at Illiana Speedway haven’t brought the kind of results late-model hotshot Eddie Hoffman is used to. In his eyes, however, it’s more a testament to his competitors doing their homework than any sluggishness on his part.
“Last week Jeff Cannon seemed just ‘bad fast,’ ” Hoffman said. “Anthony Danta won a couple in a row before that and he was ‘bad fast.’ We were there, but we didn’t have anything for them.”
Saturday, it was Hoffman’s turn to be “bad fast,” and once he went in front of the field at the halfway mark of the 30-lap feature, he stayed there for good.
The victory was Hoffman’s fourth of the season and drew him a few points closer to division leader Cannon.
It came after a side-by-side dogfight with Danta, but that was only half of Hoffman’s stellar effort.
The Wheaton native came from the third row to work his way up into contention. He moved past Jack Kalwasinski into second place on lap 8 and chased down leader Mike White.
Hoffman went in front on lap 16, taking Danta with him. Soon a side-by-side duel began, with Hoffman on the outside. It was a classic battle, without any paint traded.
“I don’t think we even got super-close but once or twice. We never touched,” Hoffman said. “He gave me room and I gave him room. I was surprised we couldn’t clear him, but we were a little tight in the middle. I don’t know, it was just a battle of the wills there for a while.”
A yellow flag on lap 23 brought the side-by-side activity to an end. On the single-file restart, Hoffman was able to open a small advantage on Danta, and beat him to the finish line by 0.234 seconds.
“That last yellow there me and (Hoffman) were side by side when it came out,” Danta said. “I was just starting to feel like I was getting an advantage on him and maybe be able to get by him.
“We were pretty equal and he beat me. It was a good race. Any day you can run that close to him and have a chance to win, it’s a good day.”
Cannon hovered close behind the leaders and finished third. D.J. Weltmeyer came from the seventh starting spot to claim fourth, ahead of White and Chris King.
Tim Stewart joined the feature winners list in the turbo stox class by passing Michael Gerike on lap 8 and pacing the field the rest of the way. Gerike spent several laps hanging behind the leader before a battle for second with points leader Chris Woodall gave Stewart the break he needed.
“I could have driven harder, but once I got in front I tried to keep a steady pace,” Stewart said. “As long as I kept a steady pace and kept hitting my marks, I knew I’d be all right.”
Woodall was able to wrestle second away from Gerike. Fourth went to Ryan Moore, ahead of Jacob McKown and Pat Ligue.
Tom Crawford Sr. made a dramatic pass of Jeff Law on the final lap to capture his second pure stocks feature of the season.
“As we came into Turn 1 and 2 on the last lap there Jeff Kind of washed up a little bit on 2,” Crawford said. “I got my nose underneath there and just went for it. I kept my foot in it and just prayed that we’d get around and stay in front of him.”
Law, who was badly sparking from the right front of his car during several of the final laps, surrendered second at the line to Matt Baikie. Ryan Lagestee was fourth and Jim Gross fifth.
Paul Shafer Sr. topped the Legends field for the third time this season, beating runner-up Matt O’Leary by 0.364 seconds. Shafer went into the night just 10 points behind division leader Stan Zolodz IV. Zolodz finished third ahead of Jason Ellis and Brian Tedeschi.
The HOSS Outlaw Winged Sprints made their annual visit with Troy Decaire scorching the field in the 30-lap main event, beating Jason Cox, Jojo Helberg, Davey Hamilton Jr. and Tim Cox.