Brian Campbell makes History with Win in Inaugural JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour race at Toledo Speedwayvdl
Salem, Indiana (Saturday, April 23rd, 2011): Brian Campbell made history at Toledo Speedway in Toledo, Ohio on Saturday, April 23rd as the Wyoming, Michigan veteran took the lead from 14-year-old Erik Jones on lap 18 and from there, Campbell would fend off challenges from Jones and then a late charge from another veteran, Eddie Hoffman, and in the end, Campbell would steer his McGunegill Engine Performance Ford into victory lane after winning the VR-12/Easter Bunny 100 Presented by JEGS.com, the inaugural race for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by GM Performance Parts.
“This is pretty special to come here against such a great field of cars and get to take the trophy home in the series first ever race.” Campbell stated in victory lane. “We had a great car, but we were a little worried about Erik (Jones) and then I seen the #8 go up on the scoreboard and knew that Eddie (Hoffman) was lurking back there as well, so I had to stay on top of the steering wheel.” The former Glass City 200 winner at the track added.
After a rousing pre-race ceremony and driver introduction for the stout 32-car field, the VR-12 Easter Bunny 100 Presented by JEGS.com was led to Chief Starter, Brian Duncan’s green flag by pole-sitter, Josh Nelms and Jones and as the field dove into turns one and two, a couple of contenders for the Howie Lettow Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Howe Racing Enterprises, 14-year-old Karl Weber and 15-year-old Cody Coughlin were caught up in a chain reaction incident along-with several other teams. Veteran, Jack Smith and Dan Leeck were also lost due to the incident.
On the restart, the 14-year-old rising star Jones maneuvered around the outside of Nelms and would lead the first feature lap in series history only to watch Nelms drive underneath him to lead lap two. Jones was having none of that and for the third lap in a row, a new leader emerged and this time Jones stayed in the lead while the rest of the field would settle down behind him.
A quick caution flew on lap 17 forcing the field back to a double file restart. By this time, Campbell had gotten around Nelms and was now starting next to Jones on the outside of the front row on the restart. As the field took the green, Campbell built up the momentum up in the top groove and when the field came back around to the front stretch; Campbell was the new leader shuffling Jones back to second once again.
The night’s second serious incident occurred on lap 34 when Nelms, who had a tire going down, tried to move down to the lower groove and allow the field to drive by, but as the field checked up behind him, a multi-car pile-up ensued coming out of turn four. In all, five cars were hauled away including Nelms, Ross Zumbach, Justin Matson, Jimmy Novak, and Dwayne Baker.
Several more cautions slowed the field and on each restart, Campbell would choose the inside lane forcing Jones to have to use the top groove. In the meantime, Hoffman had been methodically been picking his way through the field and was in the top five at the 3/4s mark of the century grind. All the while Campbell and Jones continued to click off laps when with just three laps to go, the nights seventh and final caution flew forcing one final restart and for Jones, one last chance at Campbell.
But on that last pivotal restart, Campbell again proved to be too much for Jones who fell backwards and into the grasp of Hoffman, who was able to get by Jones and try to make a late charge at Campbell. But by this time, Campbell had pulled away and would take the checkered flag to win the VR-12 Easter Bunny 100 Presented by JEGS.com. Hoffman settled for second with Jones coming home in third.
“This is such a huge win for our entire team, a huge thank you to McGunegill Engine Performance, Perfect Circle Racecars, Allstar Performance, everyone who is a part of this whole deal,” Campbell continued. “This is one of those very special wins that you’ll always remember the rest of your life. I can look back on this someday and say yeah I won the very first JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour race.” He ended.
“We didn’t think we had a chance at all, but then that last caution came out and we were able to get by Erik (Jones), so I thought, well maybe we do,” Stated Hoffman as he climbed from his Lisa Thomas Salon Ford. “We had to work hard tonight starting from so far back (16th), but we’ll take a second and we’ll be waiting for everyone at the next race at Illiana.” The Wheaton, Illinois veteran added.
The 14-year-old Jones was pleased despite dropping to third at the very end after being passed by Hoffman. “We had a really good car all night, I was just trying to be patient, but man Brian (Campbell) was so strong that I couldn’t afford to let him get too far out there,” the Byron, Michigan teenager explained as he leaned on his Paragon Corvette Reproductions Chevrolet. “We’ll get those guys next time. We’re going for a Championship and this is a good start for sure.”
Claude Plante Jr., started 24th and would finish an impressive fourth with Chris Koslek finishing off the Top Five. Brent Downey would come home sixth as Jordan Sims, who won the 20-lap Last Chance Race to transfer into the show, started 21st and finished seventh. 19-year-old Chad Finley was eighth while 18-year-old Brandon Watson and Danny Jackson rounded out the Top 10.
Earlier in the afternoon in Keyser Manufacturing Qualifying, Campbell broke the template body / crate motor track record at Toledo Speedway with a lap measured at a 15.738 which equals out to 114.373mph. Campbell’s new record, over a 39-car field, bested the previous template / crate mark set by Jones back in April 2010 when the then 13-year-old went a 15.836.
Also in preliminary events, Canadian, Jordan Sims took advantage of the top two cars tangling on the checkered flag lap to take the win in the 20-lap Last Chance and allowing the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario / Canada driver to transfer into the VR-12/ Easter Bunny 100 Presented by JEGS.com. The Top 10 transferred into the inaugural race for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by GM Performance Parts event.
Race #2 on the 2011 calendar for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by GM Performance Parts is set for Saturday, May 14th at the ½ (0.500) mile semi-banked paved oval of Illiana Motor Speedway located in the Chicagoland area of the country in Schererville, Indiana for the running of the Illiana 100 Presented by JEGS.com. Pits Gates Open at 1:00p.m., the JEGS/CRA/GM Drivers Meeting is at 2:30p.m., Practice begins at 3:00p.m., Keyser Manufacturing Qualifying is at 5:45p.m., and the evening’s race program begins at 7:00p.m.
The next event overall within Champion Racing Association is on Saturday and Sunday, April 30th and May 1st as the premiere series within the organization, the CRA Super Series, will try once again to start their 2011 racing season with the running of the Manning Service 100 at the famed ½ (0.500) mile high-banked paved oval of historic Winchester Speedway in Winchester, Indiana. Joining the CRA Super Series will be the EDCO Welding CRA Street Stocks Series who’ll race in a 40-lap Feature and the Vore’s Welding & Steel CRA FWD Compacts Series will go 20 laps in their main event.
For more information about all five series’ within Champion Racing Association, log onto the CRA website at: www.craracing.net