When Billy VanMeter crossed under the checkered flag on Saturday at Winchester Speedway, all signs pointed to him having just won his fourth CRA Late Model Sportsman feature at the legendry Indiana half-mile. He was the leader, the race was over and he celebrated in victory lane. But when it was all said and done, the record books will show J.P. Crabtree as the official victor after VanMeter was disqualified in post-race technical inspection.
Champion Racing Association officials informed Speed51.com that the official infraction was a left-side weight violation and Crabtree, who finished second on the race track, was the official winner.
VanMeter could not be found for comment after the official announcement was made.
For Crabtree, the victory is the first of his CRA Late Model Sportsman career.
“To win here it feels amazing,” Crabtree said. “I love this place. This is my favorite track. The last two races we haven’t had much luck here, but this is really good to be able to take that negative and turn it into a positive. This is awesome.”
Crabtree explained that everything he observed in the tech area made it seem as if something might happen and he might be able to walk out the winner. As it turned out, something did happen and he is walking out the winner.
“When I saw they were having problems and then they rolled us across and rolled the 9 (Tony Brutti) across and we were good I said, ‘Oh man we might win this thing.’ I was happy with second. For the car that we had, I’d have been happy with second, but heck, I’ll take the win.”
The other driver that walked out of Winchester Speedway a happy man was Tony Brutti who officially finished second and clinched his first CRA Late Model Sportsman championship.
“This is unbelievable. This is 15 years in the making,” said Brutti. “I’ve been in knots for two weeks so it’ll probably sink in on the way home.”
For an on-demand replay of Saturday’s Trackside Now coverage, click here.
On Sunday the Super Late Models will take the green flag at 2 p.m. ET for the 47thAnnual Winchester 400. Speed51.com will have a live pay-per-view television style broadcast of the race. Fans can purchase their pay-per-view ticket here.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Associate Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Mojo Photos