It appeared that defending JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour champion Jack Dossey III was on his way to his first-ever series victory Saturday evening at Winchester Speedway. He had taken the lead on lap 26 and had stretched his lead to nearly six seconds. But it was not meant to be, as his night ended on the hook after collecting the turn two wall on lap 71.
Form there, the outlook of the race completely changed as veteran Jack Smith and series rookie Mason Keller were locked in a battle for the win. Lap after lap, Smith was able to hold off Keller’s repeated attempts at getting around him.
That was until the last lap when Keller drove his car deep into turn one. He and Smith made contact, but both drivers saved their cars and kept battling. In turn three, Keller went to the outside of Smith and made the pass at the exit of turn four, picking up his first career JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour win.
“My heart was in my stomach; I knew I had one shot,” Keller told Speed51.com of his last-lap pass. “I drove it into one deeper than I think I ever had in my life. I got to his bumper and if it hooked up coming off, I knew I was going to have a run on him. It hooked up. I wiggled him. It’s the last lap at Winchester and we’re racing for a win, so I wiggled him. He went down the track and I went up and we were just so good through three and four late in the race. I drove in there and let out for like two seconds, then right back to the meat and drug it across the line.”
For Keller, not only was it his first career JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour win, it also guarantees himself a spot in the championship four at Winchester 400 weekend in October.
“Weeks are going to be a lot more relaxing for me leading up to the next one,” Keller admitted. “The final race is going to be a big deal for us. We’re in it to win it. We were strong but Dossey was a lot stronger than us, so there’s still work to do if we’re going to win the championship. But it’s a relief”
Smith ran in the top three all race and led the way after Dossey’s accident until turn four coming to the checkered flag.
“I was too tight. In the beginning of the run there, I just said I’ll get behind these guys and ride and let it pan out,” Smith began. “I knew we had a good race car but the stagger went to heck. It is what it is. I hate to lose it there on the last lap, but we had a pretty good hot rod. It just wasn’t our day.”
Dossey set fast time in qualifying and had set sail on the field, but bad luck struck Dossey once again after blowing a tire and hitting the wall late in the race.
“We blew a right front tire going into one,” Dossey said. “We had the car to beat; I was just kind of coasting there, riding around, making sure I didn’t get too far away from Jack Smith and let him get too close to me. I thought I was doing all the right things, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Corey Deuser, former JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour champion Dan Leeck, and Jordan Miller rounded out the top five.
Race fans can watch an on-demand broadcast of Saturday’s race on Speed51.com’s Summer Thunder TV.
-Story by Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com