SALISBURY, N.C. — On a track that was ‘dicey’ and ‘tough to handle’, Nick Hoffman survived the ruts and rumbles on Wednesday night at Millbridge Speedway to notch his second-straight win at the sixth-mile dirt oval.
Hoffman led all but the opening circuit of the 500cc Open class main event, passing defending track champion Tom Hubert on the second round and going on to a dominant victory over recent NHRA Pro Stock winner Tanner Gray.
“There was nothing we could do (to make the track better), because of all the rain, but hats off to everyone at Millbridge on getting the show in,” Hoffman said in victory lane. “Sometimes racing throws a curveball at everybody, and tonight was definitely one of those.”
“I could bounce through the bumps as good as anyone, I feel like, but when I found the smooth line around the bottom I just stuck to it. If anybody was going to throw a Hail Mary, it’d be (runner-up Tanner Gray). I knew he’d race me clean, though, and thankful we hung on.”
The rough-and-tumble feature was shortened from 20 laps to 17 due to the time limit, which was exceeded after nine incidents during the course of the race drew either the yellow or red flags.
A rough track rose to the surface after more than four inches of rain slammed the Carolinas prior to Wednesday’s race, prompting a yeoman’s effort by track officials to get the show in but making for a tricky track for drivers to grasp.
Worst among the chaos was Ethan Mitchell’s wild flip through Turns 1 and 2 on lap 11, which collected Dillon Latour, Brandon Dean and Dillon Silverman and saw Mitchell go end-over-end three times before coming to rest.
Mitchell was uninjured in the crash and quickly walked away, but his No. 18 JGRMX mount was worse for the wear.
“It’s really unfortunate that we flipped, because we had a rocket ship underneath us,” Mitchell said. “It just sucks. We qualify on the pole, win the heat and then roll a six (on the invert die) and just get stuck in traffic. We were coming back from the rear after the clutch went out under caution; I was up to fourth … and just hit a rut the wrong way.”
“From there I was just hanging on and waiting to see how bad it would hurt.”
Gray started on the pole but could not find the steam to get around Hoffman on a green-white-checkered finish, coming home second ahead of Hubert, Clark Houston and the debuting Alex Bodine.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader Kyle Larson returned to Millbridge for the second-straight race, looking to avenge a near-miss to Hoffman from April 20, but broke a gear on lap nine and went out of the race.
Larson was credited with 15th in the final rundown.
In other feature action, Caden Kvapil ended the three-race winning streak of Ryan Israel in the Intermediate class, leading all 20 laps of their feature en route to his first win of the season and his first overall Wednesday night victory in the division.
Israel rallied from a mid-race spin to collect runner-up honors at the finish, ahead of Tyler Letarte, Taylor Gray and Brent Crews.
Sam Corry passed Gavan Boschele with four laps to go to win his first Box Stock feature of the year, while Jett Rolewicz made a nearly-identical pass of Cassidy Keitt to collect his first-career Millbridge win in the 15-lap Beginner Box Stock main event.
Millbridge Speedway’s Wild Wednesday Series returns to action on May 3, with a rescheduled night of racing from a rainout on April 5.
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…