From David Sink
WINCHESTER, Ind. – Jason Blonde capitalized on a late-race opportunity to win the 30-lap “Winged Sprint Extravaganza” for the Xtreme Sprint Series at Winchester Speedway on Sunday afternoon, capping off a classic race and a historic afternoon of speed.
Blonde, of Litchfield, Mich., recorded the fastest time by a sprint car in the 97-year history of the track with a clocking of 13.467-seconds during time trials, but rolled a “10” invert that saw him line up on the outside of row five for the feature race.
Mike Larrison and series point leader JoJo Helberg provided the early drama as they waged an intense side-by-side duel at the outset that lasted throughout the first five circuits. Brian Gerster upped the ante when he made it three-wide at times as the leaders worked traffic, eventually slipping past Larrison to take the runner-up position.
Just past halfway Helberg suddenly slowed with mechanical woes, giving the lead to Gerster. Troy DeCaire moved into second, and throughout the next 10 laps began eating into Gerster’s lead.
Things got interesting as the field came to the white flag, with contact between several cars that ended Larrison’s day and sent Gerster pitside with a flat tire. Also slowed with a deflating tire was Kyle Flint, who was running solidly in the top five throughout the race.
DeCaire came to the race restart as the leader, with Blonde right behind. Blonde moved the BioBased.US machine into the lead with a daring pass, with DeCaire holding on to take second. Aaron Pierce was third, with Chris Neuenshwander and Jeff Bloom rounding out the top five.
“What a finish,” Blonde offered in Victory Circle. “It got really hectic back there (on lap 28) and I got into somebody, I think it was Larrison. Sorry about that, nothing intentional but it was just really close quarters. On the restart I felt like our car was good enough and I got a run at Troy and we managed to get it done.
“This is such a tribute to our guys, we have been fast all season but we just haven’t been able to get that win. To win here at Winchester, after setting the qualifying record, it just doesn’t get any better than that.”
DeCaire was exhausted after the race following an all-night thrash for he and his Powell Racing team following engine trouble the previous evening.
“I can’t say enough about our guys, they worked all night and still haven’t been to sleep,” he praised. “Good things come from that kind of effort, and we ended up second with a really good day for the points race.”
Heats were won by Ryan Litt, Pierce, and DeCaire. Track and series officials were sent scrambling by a one-hour rain delay just after qualifying, but managed to salvage the balance of the program.
Up next for the Xtreme Sprint Series is the TruFuel “Xtreme Speed Classic” at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 1.
30-lap “Winged Sprint Extravaganza” Feature Event: 1) Jason Blonde; 2) Troy DeCaire; 3) Aaron Pierce; 4) Chris Neuenschwander; 5) Jeff Bloom; 6) Ryan Litt; 7) Kyle Flint; 8) Hank Lower; 9) Tom Tolbert; 10) Ryan Myers; 11) Sondi Eden; 12) Mike Ling; 13) Brian Gerster; 14) Mike Larrison; 15) Jerry Caryer; 16) Jim Sheets; 17) Brian Olson; 18) JoJo Helberg; 19) Jimmy McCune; 20) Tom Patterson; 21) Ron Kohler; 22) Jason Cox.