Super Late Models

Johnny VanDoorn returns to victory lane with late pass at Anderson Speedway

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Nearly 10 years after his first win in Champion Racing Association competition at Anderson Speedway, Johnny VanDoorn emerged from his No. 71 Chevrolet an ARCA/CRA Super Series winner for the first time since returning to the cockpit in 2016 at the same track.

VanDoorn used fresh rubber – and liberal use of his front bumper – to work his way around the dominant Eddie VanMeter with three laps remaining and claim Sunday’s Koorsen Fire & Security 125, his first victory since July 2014.

“Finally got the monkey off our back,” VanDoorn said. “The funny thing is, this is where I got my first CRA win 10 years ago. This is almost like getting our first win all over again.

“We’ve been fast, but just hadn’t been able to seal the deal. So to finally do it here is really special.”

Looking for a victory to seal an automatic berth in the upcoming Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway, VanMeter proved the class of the field for the majority of the event.

Starting on the pole after a seven-car invert, the Hoosier fended off multiple challenges from VanDoorn, Jack Dossey III and Cody Coughlin even as the field was constantly bottled up by cautions to lead the opening 122 laps of the event.

In the end, VanMeter was left one spot short when a late bump from VanDoorn sent him sailing up the racing groove and back to third in Turns 1&2 of the quarter-mile oval. The 2016 Winchester 400 runner-up battled his way back around Brett Robinson to regain second at the checkered flag before driving his No. 23 Chevrolet into the back of VanDoorn’s car in displeasure on the cool-down lap.

“I figured Johnny would be man enough to go to the outside, but obviously he’s not,” VanMeter said.

“But that’s okay. The main goal was to get locked into Bristol. I think we did that, so we’ll move on to their and have some fun.”

VanDoorn, who charged through the field after pitting during a caution on lap 53, defended his move after the race.

“There was no ill will,” VanDoorn said. “It was just a bump-and-run. Just good racing. He ran me aggressive, I ran him aggressive.

“Eddie’s a customer of mine. I build his race cars for him. I’m sure he’s upset – I probably would be, too. But at the end of the day, we go onto the next race and it’ll be water under the bridge.”

Josh Brock came home third, with Robinson and Hunter Jack completing the top five. Anthony Danta, Jeff Marcum, Wes Griffith, Jr., Jack Dossey III and Cody Coughlin rounded out the top 10.

17 Super Late Models filled the paddock on a cloudless, windy day in Indiana. However, while the sun shone brightly, a dark cloud appeared to loom over Anderson as a tune-up for June’s Redbud 400 quickly turned into a war of attrition.

Eight caution flags flew in the event, often for wrecks that included many of the series’ top contenders. Coughlin, Dossey, Dalton Armstrong and Logan Runyon were just a few of the teams involved in accidents over the course of the day. Meanwhile others, including Toledo Speedway winner Brian Campbell, were sidelined by mid-race issues.

The attrition may prove a fitting test for the field given their next stop. The ARCA/CRA Super Series next heads to the high banks of Bristol on May 19-21.

About Aaron Bearden

Aaron Bearden is a contributing writer for Short Track Scene. Having grown up watching NASCAR and IndyCar, Bearden began following short track racing during his high school years before starting a blog about racing in college. A writer for Frontstretch and Motorsports Tribune, Bearden also covers NASCAR, IndyCar and other forms of open wheel racing.

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