ROSSBURG, Ohio — official release — Mike Campbell photo — Danny Holtgraver is only 24 years old but he showed the maturity of a seasoned sprint car veteran Saturday at Eldora Speedway.
The Pittsburgh, Pa.,driver held off veteran Dale Blaney in a three-lap shootout to score his first career win at the legendary “Big E” to open the 32nd annual Ohio Sprint Speedweek.
With eight laps to go Holtgraver was trying to battle through heavy lapped traffic and Blaney was coming on strong as was Jac Haudenschild. But, when Rob Chaney stopped with three laps to go it gave Holtgraver a clear track but it also moved Blaney right on his rear bumper. As the green flew on the restart Holtgraver got a tremendous drive to the outside wall and drove away from Blaney for his second University of Northwestern Ohio All Star Circuit of Champions win of 2014.
The victory was Holtgraver’s eighth career UNOH All Star win.
“I knew on that restart I had to run around the top as hard as I could. I have to thank all my guys. Rob Hunter for giving me this opportunity. My dad, pup, Barman, Earl, Josh…everyone that helps us out on this thing,” said Holtgraver.
“We’ve had a couple of up and down weeks and these guys have had a lot of work to do and it paid off because here we are,” continued Holtgraver. “I told Rob this week I don’t care if we win any where else I want to win Eldora. I got it…this is unbelievable…I couldn’t ask for more…this is amazing. I can’t wait to come back here.”
For Blaney, who leads the UNOH All Star national and Ohio region points, a second place run is a great way to start Ohio Sprint Speedweek.
“When that yellow came out with 15 to go we were really good. We probably had a harder left rear tire than these guys and I still had a shot at him (Holtgraver) with about five laps to go. He got held up a little bit but I made about three bad corners and didn’t capitalize and there it goes,” Blaney said.
Randy Hannagan finished third.
“We definitely had a good race car,” he said. “We were kind of limited in our tire choice for the feature and we gambled and it didn’t pay off. From lap 15 on I was just kind of holding on. I could be frustrated if I couldn’t see why we slowed up but we know why and we’ll carry that on to the King’s Royal.”
Tim Shaffer and Shane Stewart, who started 24th, rounded out the top five.
Shaffer was fast qualifier for the 44-car field with a fast lap of 13.504 seconds on the half-mile dirt track.
Matt Westfall topped the modified feature and Paul Pardo won the stock car race.