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TONY ELLIOTT TAKES GAS CITY WIN
WHILE JOHN WOLFE NABS 2ND TRACK TITLE

9-16-2002

Tony Elliott is joined in the winner's circle by Hoosier engineer Jon Huffman (far left), Tony Elliott, Hoosier Open Wheel Dirt Product Manager Neil Cowman and Elliott's car owner Jeff Walker along with Elliott's kids and crew. GAS 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 years. 

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. 

      

John Wolfe celebrating his runner-up finish and second track championship at Gas City. (Sorry about the dirt on the lens!)The test tires ended up finishing one-two, with Elliott taking the win and Wolfe capturing the 2002 Gas City Sprints crown with his runner-up finish. Petty took third after an exciting run using a provisional start. Michael Burthay finished 11th and settled for second place in the points chase. After the race, Burthay came over to the Wolfe trailer to congratulate the champion on his title in a refreshing display of sportsmanship. The two relived the race's final moments with Wolfe stating he thought it was Burthay, not Elliott, he was battling at the finish. 

Tony Elliott's car owner Jeff Walker commented after his drivers come-from-behind win, "We had been struggling a bit as of late and we came here to our 'backyard' to get things back on track. This was a new car we just rolled out and to come away with a win is just awesome."

Hoosier's Neil Cowman commented after the race, "It was a great evening. We came here to test the RD12 compound on the left rears and a new compound on the right rears and they finished one-two in one of the most exciting finishes I've ever seen." Cowman added, "My hat goes off to John Wolfe. He didn't have to chance running the experimental tires, but he did, and it paid off for him." 

Hoosier Compounder Jon Huffman viewed it this way. "We developed this compound specifically for Gas City and Attica where the Hoosier brand wasn't as dominant as we felt it should be. The one-two finish was more than we expected and it gives us something to build on at the two tracks heading into the future."

In addition to John Wolfe winning the track championship in Sprints, congratulations also go out to Dan Hamstra for winning the championship in Modifieds and James Headley in Street Stocks.

Also in attendance at the race was T.J. Buffenbarger of www.tjslideways.com

      

Other pictures from Gas City.
(Click on image to see a larger version)

Hoosier Compounder Jon Huffman & Track Promoter Jiggs Thomason inspecting the track prior to racing

Michael Burthay's crew member picking up test tires with Neil Cowman and Hoosier Tire Midwest dealer Scott Benic

      

18-year-old Michael Burthay congratulating John Wolfe after Wolfe captured the track championship at Gas City.

Hoosier Open Wheel Dirt Product Manager Neil Cowman & Tony Elliott's car owner Jeff Walker discussing things prior to Friday's racing at Gas City.

      

Tony Elliott getting ready prior to the 25-lap feature.

Tony Elliott prior to climbing into the #39 car at Gas City.

      

      

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