ATTICA, Ohio — official series release — DB3 Imaging photo —
A mid-race restart proved pivotal in the battle for Friday night’s Kistler Engines Classic at Attica Raceway Park, as Dale Blaney was able to battle past Cody Darrah and best the Outlaws to become the 12th different World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series winner of the season.
Blaney, who came into the night as the reigning winner of the Outlaws event at Attica, picked up the quick time early on in the night and started on the outside pole of the feature after charging from sixth to second in the Dash.
Through the early portion of the feature Blaney battled with Darrah for the lead. As the two drivers came around to complete lap five, they got side-by-side off of turn four. Blaney got hung up at the top and was forced to give up his run for the position.
“I had a couple of runs on him getting into three but it was a 40 lap race and I didn’t want to do anything to negate what we were both doing up there,” Blaney said. “I knew the last 20 was going to tell the tale.”
The caution flag flew for the first and only time of the night on lap 15. D.J. Foos got caught up with Dean Jacobs and cut a tire down.
When the feature returned to green, momentum and a mistake changed the narrative of the night.
“I just got a good restart there,” Blaney said. “I kind of kept my speed up a little bit and we came to the line together but I had a head of speed going.”
Blaney charged forward in his No. 1 Muddy car, taking over the lead as the two drivers dove into turn one.
For Darrah, the restart captured a familiar frustration.
“I’ve been struggling with my restarts here lately and I’ve been getting yelled at,” Darrah said. “I got a little anxious and went a little too early and had to get my tires back under me and it just gave him enough time to get around me. And then once he got in front of me I throttled down and put myself in a wheel stand. Just made one bad mistake and then another one after that.”
Blaney caught traffic on lap 30 and Darrah was able to close a several car length lead for Blaney. Through the late going though, Blaney held firm, and scored his 10th career World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series feature victory.
“I was a little bit better than Cody was early but then once we got to traffic we were the same and I couldn’t do anything with him,” Blaney said. “I don’t know how we were in the open traffic. To defend what I did last year just makes it even more special.”
Blaney, a regular competitor with Darrah in the All Star Circuit of Champions, complimented the Red Lion, Pennsylvania-native. Blaney currently leads Darrah by 35 points in that series’ championship points standings.
“I get to race with Cody every night with the All Stars and for him to be up here with us is really good – he’s a great kid and we’re going to have a great battle this year,” Blaney said.
Darrah, who got his best Outlaws finish of the season with his No. 89 J&K Salvage car tonight, shared a similar sentiment.
“It felt like we had a great car,” Darrah said. “We were right on him there in traffic, it’s just when it slows down like this it’s really hard to get grip. I’ve learned so much here racing behind (Blaney) in the last couple of (All Star) races. He’s been kicking our butt but we’re closing up on the way he gets around the race track.”
If the restart proved critical for Blaney and Darrah, it was a big break for David Gravel. When the race returned to green, Gravel, who started the night in 11th, restarted in the eighth position. By the time he came around onto the backstretch he had driven his No. 7 Destiny Motorsports car to fourth.
Following a three lap battle with Joey Saldana for third, Gravel drag raced past him down the backstretch on lap 28 and then held him off as the two exited turn four. Gravel closed on Darrah in the waning laps but was not able to find a way around him.
It was the second Outlaws feature in a row that Gravel finished on the podium.
“We had a great car,” Gravel said. “I wish it was 50 laps. Cody was catching Dale a little bit and I was catching them. It was getting interesting.”
Of his transition with a still fairly new team for him, Gravel said, “It’s been a work in progress. Everybody’s been working hard to make this better.”
James McFadden was the night’s KSE Racing Hard Charger recipient after advancing 16 positions from 24th to finish in eighth.
Donny Schatz, who finished the night in sixth after starting the feature in 15th, expanded his championship points lead over second place Shane Stewart to 105.
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series returns to action tomorrow night for the NAPA Auto Parts Rumble in Michigan at I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Mich.