From T.J. Buffenbarger
Hartford Notes and Quotes…
- After only having one appearance in Michigan for the All Star Circuit of Champions, the series returned to Hartford Speedway Park for the first time in seven years in what was estimated as one of the largest, if not the largest, crowd in track history. The last All Star show run at Hartford was won by Joey Saldana in Art Wendt’s #77 car during the season where Saldana won every All Star feature run in the State of Michigan and took the victory in Michigan’s Pennzoil World of Outlaws feature of that season at the then named I-96 Speedway.
- Kasey Kahne used a new chassis (See our feature story on the car) and some smooth driving to win the All Star Circuit of Champions feature at Hartford Speedway Park. The track took rubber halfway through the race, and most of the front-runners had on a Hoosier 15 compound tire including second place Paul McMahan and third place Kenny Jacobs. Both of their 15’s were bald at the end. Kahne ran a 12 compound and still had plenty of tread left, which was attributed to his pavement experience and smooth driving.
- McMahan did a great job during the mid stages of the race just to keep Kahne within a straightaway distance before falling off toward the end. When Paul was asked if he had at shot at Kahne if he was closer on a restart, he responded, “No way, our tire was used up at that point. I was just hanging on”. Kasey’s Durst Motorsports team has also picked up Curb Records sponsorship on the nose wing of their machine.
- Dean Jacobs had an eventful run to finish fifth. During a caution with a handful of laps to go, Jacobs right rear tire began going flat while running in the fourth position. Dean kept his car on the Speedway, got some heat in the tire, and held onto fifth position at the finish.
“That was pure luck” Jacobs said after the race. “I saw the flagman signaling I had a flat tire, and I was just waving ‘No, no, I’m not going off’. I wanted them (the officials) to hurry up and throw the green before it went entirely flat. Somehow we made it”.
Jacobs tire did blow at the finish line.
- Brett Mann had the honor of being the highest finishing Hartford Speedway semi-regular with a great run from 17th to finish in the 10th position. Mann was as high as seventh position being one of the few drivers up on the high side of the Speedway before the top started to go away and tucking in line to secure a top ten finish. Mann will head out to Central Pennsylvania Speedweek in late June.
- Bruce Robenalt made his first All Star Circuit of Champions feature of 2002 Friday night at Hartford. Robenalt has been mired with bad luck, but seemed to enjoy his trip to Hartford. “I really like the big tracks, and this is a big one” said Robenalt about the 9/16th mile oval. Robenalt will be debuting a new car and paint scheme in two weeks at Attica Raceway Park and on Ohio Speedweek.
- In case anyone wondered, the new DRC chassis did weight 1,220 pounds after the feature. There were a few nervous moments as the team was “pretty sure” it would be 1,220 after their work with it in the shop. Builder Joe Devin was relieved to see Kasey walking back to the pit are carrying the trophy.
- Joe Gaerte will be racing Ohio Sprint Speedweek with the All Star Circuit of Champions utilizing a new Mopar Engine built by Gaerte Engines. Gaerte was approached by Mopar about doing some engine work, and Saturday night team driver Tim Norman was heading down to meet Joe at Terre Haute, Indiana and run the Pennzoil World of Outlaws show at the Terre Haute Action track.
“We’re going to work into whipping him into shape”, Norman said. “What better way to get back into the swing with seven nights of racing!”
No word on how many other races Gaerte might run after Speedweek.