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CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (June 23, 2018) - An emotional victory to say the least, Lockbourne, Ohio’s Cole Duncan smoked the field on Saturday night at Atomic Speedway, not only capping off Cometic Gasket Ohio Sprint Speedweek presented by C&R Racing with a trip to victory lane, but honoring his life-long racing hero in the process by claiming the inaugural Rick Ferkel Classic worth $10,000.
Starting from the pole position by way of dash victory, Duncan led all 35 circuits on Saturday night at the Atomic highbanks, keeping the “Buckeye Bullet” Dave Blaney and Lemoore, California’s Carson Macedo at bay. The Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 victory bumped his career win total to four with the Series, his second in Chillicothe.
“I just went over and told Rick (Ferkel) he is one of my all-time heroes,” a teary-eyed Cole Duncan said in victory lane. “To earn this, the inaugural Rick Ferkel Classic win, there are no words. To do this at my home track, in front of all of these great fans, with my family and friends here, means so much to me.”
Duncan was able to run away from the field right from the drop of the green flag, leading defending All Star champion Chad Kemenah, and fellow Ohio native Dave Blaney, by the flagstand for the first time. By lap eight, Duncan was already in traffic, eventually allowing Blaney to chip away at his advantage with Carson Macedo in tow. Although intense during certain segments of the main event, Duncan maneuvered through the lapped cars well, always keeping at least a pair between himself and Blaney.
The main event’s first and only caution appeared on lap 30 giving Blaney an opportunity to restart on the back bumper of Duncan. Blaney’s restart attempt was good, but not good enough, unable to work by the familiar No. 22. Duncan went on the score the five-figure payday; certainly the most sentimental victory of this young career.
“Being the leader, you never really know how far out ahead you are. I felt really good, so I felt really confident the entire race,” Cole Duncan continued. “It started to lay some rubber down in certain spots, especially in the exit of the corners. You can race anywhere you want, but you have to make sure you are in the rubber when you exit the corners. It made lapped traffic a little difficult, but we were really good in traffic. I was just praying the tires would stay under me. It all worked out.”
Cole Duncan won the battle, but Paul McMahan won the war, claiming the 36th Annual Cometic Gasket Ohio Sprint Speedweek presented by C&R Racing championship worth $3,000. McMahan’s Ohio Sprint Speedweek campaign included one victory - the Speedweek opener at Attica Raceway Park - as well as a grand total of six top-ten finishes in seven starts. Four of McMahan’s top-ten finishes were inside the top-five. The Speedweek title was the first of McMahan’s storied career.
“People had me written off a few years back, so to come back and do this is pretty special,” Paul McMahan said while celebrating his Speedweek title with crew. “We only won one race this week, but this goes to show that consistency wins championships. To clinch this title during Rick Ferkel’s race makes things even more special. I had the opportunity to race for Rick at one point. He is someone I have always looked up to. I’m glad to be here.”
Atomic Speedway/Speedweek Night #6 Rescheduled Feature Report:
The Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 kicked-off the evening program at Atomic Speedway by running the Cometic Gasket Ohio Sprint Speedweek presented by C&R Racing night six feature that was originally scheduled for Wednesday evening, June 20. Mother Nature invaded Chillicothe just as feature cars were beginning to be pushed out onto the speedway. A heavy downpour forced officials to postpone the event until Saturday.
Utilizing patience to power himself to a 35th-career All Star Circuit of Champions triumph, Alvada, Ohio’s Chad Kemenah was the first to visit victory lane on Saturday evening at Atomic Speedway, leading all 30 circuits during the Wednesday make-up feature to clinch his first All Star victory since winning the 2018 Series opener in Ocala, Florida.
The driver of the Hunter Racing/DKW Transport/Seneca Energy/Bonnell’s Rod Shop/No. 10H earned the top spot right from the drop of the green flag, powering ahead of fellow front row starter, Justin Peck, as the pair raced into turn one for the first time. Although dominate from the start, Kemenah’s trip to victory lane was far from down an easy path. Kemenah was forced to survive six stoppages during the 30-lapper, two of which resulting in red flag conditions.
“My car owner, Rob Hunter, really messed up today; he took the night off and stayed home tonight,” Chad Kemenah laughed in victory lane. “This is really cool. It feels great to get this done. To say our Speedweek has been up and down is an understatement, but this team doesn’t give up. I felt like we got better after that first red. (Brian Kemenah) came out and made some adjustments that really helped out the car. I lost a race on the final lap here to Dave Blaney last year. I’d drive into the fence before I let that happen again.”
Although it was Kemenah in control, it was Ryan Smith and Paul McMahan who were putting on the show, battling almost side-by-side for the runner-up position for a multitude of laps. Continuing to substitute for Max McGhee, Smith secured the runner-up spot for the first time on lap six. McMahan, a two-time winner thus far in 2018 for car owner Tom Buch, powered into third for the first time on lap eight.
The duo exchanged positions four times between laps 16 and 26 beginning with McMahan getting by Smith after a restart on lap 16. Smith returned the favor on lap 21, but it would not last long, as McMahan was able to sneak back by the familiar No. 11 after a restart on lap 22. The caution on lap 22, waved for an upside-down Mitch Harble, was the final stop of the night. It followed a trio of yellow flags during the first half of the main event on laps five, ten, and fourteen, as well as a red flag on lap 18 for Parker Price-Miller who was battling inside the top-five. All drivers involved in all accidents walked away unharmed.
Once green flag action returned following the lap 22 caution, McMahan and Smith’s battle resumed. By lap 26, Smith was all over McMahan again, ultimately powering back around the Nashville native via Elk Grove, Calif., to officially regain second on lap 26. After gaining second for the final time, Smith set his aim for Kemenah, working as hard as he could to match Kemenah’s pace through the middle of the speedway. A late charge would put Smith within a half-second of Kemenah, but time was out. Kemenah held on for the $5,000 payday, followed Ryan Smith, Paul McMahan, Jac Haudenschild, and Cap Henry.
MAVTV Motorsports Network will be on hand to capture all of the action from Plymouth Speedway on Friday night. The second-ever All Star program at the northern Indiana oval will be aired on MAVTV later this year. A full broadcast schedule will be released later this summer.
Contingency Awards/Results: Atomic Speedway - Saturday, June 23, 2018: