Fans raise their hats to the drivers at the start of Saturday night's race at Toledo Speedway. The fans in attendance were treated to a wild finish.
This wasn't exactly how Terry Senneker wanted to win the Great Lakes Helicopter Glass City 200.
The 24th running of the Great Lakes Helicopter Glass City 200 at the Toledo Speedway gets under way.
Saturday night at Toledo Speedway, Senneker watched as Steve Needles, his friend and former stock-car racing teammate, took and then widened his lead along the half-mile oval. Needles took over the race's lead on the 60th lap and continued to cruise into the late laps until sparks flew from underneath his Outlaw super late model car, and he lost all momentum between the third and fourth turns on the 197th lap.
"He was chugging smoke there for a few laps before that, and I was actually cheering for him to finish it, because he had such a strong car," Senneker said. "I'm the one that built his chassis, we're teammates, we're good buddies, and I didn't want to win it like that. I wanted to beat him, straight up. To see him have bad luck like that, that's too bad for him."
Still, Senneker took advantage of the situation. Senneker finished ahead of Johnny VanDoorn and Scott Hantz in the 32-driver field, while Needles finished eighth. Before Needles' car failed, Senneker had worked his way into the top five of the race's second 100 laps, nosing his way into third and then to second with 14 laps remaining.
"It was a really good run for us," said VanDoorn, who finished second despite having a flat right rear tire coming out of the race's last restart. "Second wasn't a great run, but considering the circumstances, we'll take it.
With 61 laps left, the 32-driver field diminished to 15 drivers after four cautions and an early race red flag, which stopped competition.
"In this race, there's always a lot of attrition," Senneker said. "The lap cars are really tough, and there's really chaotic passing of lap cars. Weaving in and out of traffic, it was close to a wreck numerous times for us. It was somewhat strategy, but be there at the end."
Johnny Belott led for the first 12 laps before Harold Fair, Jr., took over the lead. Fair, who won the 2008 and 2010 Glass City 200 titles, led for the next 15 laps and stretched his lead to three seconds ahead of the field before Nick Grodi spun out in Turn 2, bringing out the race's first caution.
After a red flag halted racing on the 28th lap, the lead changed hands only three times before the halfway point of the race.
J.R. Roahrig took over the lead on the 43rd lap from VanDoorn, but VanDoorn retook the lead on the 55th lap before Needles took over on the 61st lap. Needles led until a mandatory stop in racing after the 100th lap.
Roahrig, who clipped the outside wall at the third turn on the 119th lap in an attempt to pass traffic, did not finish. Roahrig posted the top qualifying time of 14.628 seconds, with an average speed of 123 miles per hour, to set a new track record. Roahrig set the previous record time of 14.718 in qualifying for the 2011 Glass City 200.
Ron Allen of Lincoln Park, Mich., won the 40-lap sportsman feature event. Allen took over the lead on the 18th lap and led for the remainder of the race on the half-mile oval. A.J. Padgett won the 30-lap X-Car feature event on Toledo Speedway's quarter-mile oval.