CITY, IN (September 13) -- Friday the 13th proved to be lucky for both
Tony Elliott and John Wolfe as Elliott passed Wolf at the checkered
flag to capture the final regular weekly sprint race feature at Gas
City. Wolfe entered Friday's race tied with 18-year-old Michael
Burthay in the sprint car standings at the 1/4-mile Gas City I-69
Speedway. Wolfe finished in second, while the youngster finished 11th
giving Wolfe his second track championship in the past three
Hoosier Open Wheel Dirt Product Manager Neil Cowman
and Hoosier Compound Engineer Jon Huffman attended the Friday night
race--bringing with them several test tires. Among the van-load of
tires the pair brought were both left and right side variations. The
new left side tires had Hoosier's RD12 compound which were yet to be
available for the non-wing cars. While the right side test tires had a
new compound that was to be between Hoosier's RD12 and RD15 options.
The test tires were given out to two top teams that
were not track regulars and to the two drivers tied for the points
lead at the facility--John Wolfe and Michael Burthay. The new compound
codes had been tested but not under race conditions on non-winged
cars. Neil Cowman stressed to the four teams, that if the conditions
were not appropriate, the teams were under no obligation to run the
tires that night.
The 39-car field had 24 drivers opting to ride on the
Hoosier brand with the remainder of the field sporting the other
American-made tire brand.
Shane Hollingsworth set fast time of the evening with
a lap of 13.011 seconds around the 1/4-mile oval. Hollingsworth set
the mark on Hoosier tires.
Two of the four heat races were won by drivers on
Hoosier tires. Tony Elliott won the first heat race after starting
fifth, while Scott Orr won the final heat race from the pole. Michael
Burthay finished fourth in the second heat race, while John Wolfe
finished a disappointing seventh in the fourth heat.
Prior to the start of the feature, Burthay's team
opted to pass on running the experimental tires and ride their usual
set-up with the championship on the line. Their decision was
understandable given the importance on the night's final race in
determining the title winner for the Sprints.
Wolfe, however, jumped at the chance to run the new
compound in the 25-lap feature. With no guarantees, this was a gutsy
decision on the part of the driver of the #3M Pak-A-Sak sprinter, as
did Tony Elliott and Bill Rose.
In the 25-lap feature, Bill Rose started on the pole
with Tony Elliott in fourth and John Wolfe in fifth. Michael Burthay
started in seventh just behind Wolfe on the starting grid with the top
eight being inverted. Of the 22 cars entered in the feature, 14 were
riding atop the Hoosier brand.
At the drop of the green flag, John Wolfe took just
five laps to move from fifth to first in his bid to capture the track
championship. Despite several cautions, Wolfe maintained the race lead
as Burthay had moved up to sixth.
On lap 16, Brandon Petty used the high-side of the
track to capture the lead after starting the race in 21st and using a
provisional. All eyes were on Petty who was a rocket as he ran the top
of the track picking off cars nearly every lap until he had no more to
pass. But on lap 17, Wolfe regained the lead from Petty with Elliott
moving into second.
The exciting race-within-a-race was not only between
Wolfe and Burthay, but also between the two tire brands. With the
crowd on its feet, Elliott used his high-side momentum to narrowly
beat Wolfe at the line with Petty less than a car length behind the
two at the stripe.