BECHTELSVILLE, Pa. —Dale Blaney helped the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions keep the Pennsylvania Posse out of victory lane, scoring the Arctic Cat All Star win at the Grandview Speedway Thursday night.
The pilot of the GoMuddy.com/Big Game Treestands/CH Motorsports No. 1 held off charges by Lucas Wolfe, Stevie Smith and fellow National Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductee Sammy Swindell during the course of the 35-lap main event, claiming his seventh victory of the season and raising his career win total to 134 with the Arctic Cat All Stars.
Blaney also used his victory to chip away at Chad Kemenah’s championship point lead, lowering the gap by 14 to a 36-point margin.
“My guys gave me a great car here tonight,” Blaney explained. “Donny, Skippy, and George did an awesome job. Big Game Treestands and Muddy have been behind us the last couple of years. Janet Holbrook and CH Motorsports give us great race cars and a great opportunity to come out here and race every weekend. To win out here, and to have Sammy (Swindell) finish second with Big Game and Muddy on his car, too, is pretty cool.”
Wolfe and Blaney brought the 24 feature starters to green, with Wolfe jumping out to the early advantage and leading lap one over Blaney and Swindell. Those three drivers held the pace out in front of the field for the first five circuits, not reaching traffic for the first time until lap six.
Intense traffic around the bottom of the speedway, the leader’s preferred line, allowed Blaney to chip away at Wolfe’s advantage, making a bid for the top spot on lap seven and again on lap eight, ultimately igniting a near-five-lap, side-by-side battle between Blaney and Wolfe.
By lap 11, Blaney had established himself at the front of the field, only to be halted by the main event’s first caution on lap 12.
When green-flag conditions returned, Blaney reopened his advantage at the front of the field, followed by Wolfe and now Stevie Smith, who drove around Swindell just before caution flags appeared. A pair of cautions, including a red flag involving four main event starters, would halt action for Blaney on lap 16 and lap 18.
After an open red flag from the four-car accident involving Cap Henry, Kraig Kinser, Danny Dietrich and Greg Hodnett, green flag conditions returned once again. Blaney resumed his place at the front of the field, followed by Smith, who moved around Wolfe just before the lap-18 caution flag.
Despite a lengthy advantage, Smith eventually reeled in Blaney using the topside of the speedway. A two-car battle ensued, with Smith on the topside and Blaney on the bottom racing nearly side-by-side for multiple circuits.
Smith poked his nose to the outside of Blaney at the exit of turn two and turn four on several occasions, but the effort was not enough.
“I just wasn’t comfortable those first seven or eight laps,” Blaney said. “I had to start slowing myself down a little bit to get faster. Stevie (Smith) and I had a pretty good battle there for a while toward the later portion of the race, but I was able to get myself off of four; really kept my speed up and run through on the middle on exit. I was fortunate enough to clear a lapped car there toward the end that probably helped us out a little bit. Overall, we are thrilled with everything.”
Blaney moved on to score the victory worth $5,000, followed by Swindell and Smith.
Swindell, who had dropped well outside of the top-three during the middle segment of the main event due to a damaged nose wing, moved by Smith with less than five circuits remaining.
“I think we may have had something for Blaney,” Swindell said. “I was able to find a great line off of two and four. A lot of guys were missing that line, really opening the door for us to capitalize. I just had to be patient and start working back around those guys. We were there and coming. The car was definitely fast.”
Ryan Smith and Sheldon Haudenschild rounded out the top five.
John Barnett won the TSRS Sprint Car Series feature.