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McConnel Outlasts Claborn to Win Founder's Day 100
July 23, 2008 - Shirley’s David McConnell won the Dependable Drywall 2008 Founder’s Day 100, but if it had not been for late engine problems for Kevin Claborn, he would have probably had to settle for second.
McConnell and Claborn battled the final 75 laps as if it were a six-lap trophy dash. Fans were treated to lap after lap of side-by-side, hard-charging racing. There were 11 hotly-contested lead changes in the 100-lap affair.
Shelbyville’s Jason Heaston was the first leader, moving to the front on lap one from his row two starting position. Rushville’s Chris Bolyard led lap three after a restart from the first yellow flag of the race on lap two. Greenfield’s Jameson Owens went airborne over the timing light hump at the start-finish line.
Brian Slavey of New Castle led lap four when the second yellow came out for fast qualifier Ryan Amonett, who had stalled on the front stretch. On the restart, Heaston took the lead on lap five and held it until lap 10, when Middletown’s Mike Vaccaro got around him for top spot.
Vaccaro held on until McConnell, who started 18th in the 22-car field, got around him on lap 14. Frankie Oakes brought out the next yellow when he blew an engine on the backstretch on lap 17.
Claborn got around Vaccaro for second on lap 24, setting up a duel that kept the fans on the edge of their seats the entire race. The pair battled side-by-side for laps on end, with Vaccaro sitting in third hoping the two would take each out and give him the lead.
The next yellow came out for Pam McConnell, who went off the track in the short turn and bounced off a large tree. The race was red flagged at that point to allow Henry County ambulance personnel to attend to McConnell.
McConnell’s mount was towed back to the pit area with a flat tire, where crew members looked the car over and determined all that was needed was a new tire. When told her car was ready to go back into the race, McConnell left the ambulance and returned to the race, four laps down.
Straughn’s Tony Stewart appeared to be on a march to the front as he closed in on Vaccaro for second on lap 18. But his exhaust system began dragging on the pavement, sending sparks everywhere. Stewart was forced to pit for repairs and returned to the race 18 laps down.
Claborn got the lead from McConnell on lap 38, but McConnell came right back to the lead on lap 40. More side-by-side action over the next several laps saw Claborn lead from lap 63 to 73 before McConnell once again took the point.
Claborn got around for the lead on lap 80 and appeared to be on his way to victory as he built a sizeable lead. But on lap 97 his engine turned sour and that allowed McConnell to take the lead and go on to the victory.
The trio of Vaccaro, Ed Knott of Muncie, and Bill Clark of Rushville, battled for the third spot over the final 25 laps. Clark worked his way back to the front after spinning on lap 45 while running third.
Claborn held on for second, followed by Vaccaro, Knott, Clark, Ray Evans of Greenfield, Paul Starks of Fortville, Pam McConnell, Jim Walker of Cambridge City and Owens to round the top 10.
The rest of the finishing order saw Jason Heaston finish 11th, followed by Stewart, John Heaston, Bolyard, Slavey, Rick Moore of Rushville, Amonett, Les Tolliver of Pendleton, Matt Nelson of Greenwood, Oakes and Michael Starks of Greenfield. There were no preliminary races in the Thunder Car division.
Twenty cars started the Motion Motors Late Model feature, which saw Daleville’s Tom Nixon lead the first three laps. That’s when New Castle’s Terry Cater of brought the first caution when he spun on the outside of the short turn trying to quickly get to the front. New Castle’s Miles Sexton led lap five through ten, until Greenfield’s Eric Evans took the lead for good from his 15th starting position.
Evans was followed by Eddie Claborn of Cambridge City, Kevin Claborn, Jeff Marcum who was the Tail Gunner of the event, Brandon Mefford of Knightstown, Scott Knepley of Knightstown, David Fox II of Markleville, Ralph Lane of Greensburg and Johnny Fugate of Cambridge City.
Knepley set fast time trials at 16.652, Evans won the Razzles Dash for Cash, with the heat races going to Marcum, Eddie Claborn and Sexton.
In Collins Auto Service action, Richmond’s Chris Jennings made short work of the field as he moved from his 16th starting position to the lead on lap six. He would never look back in picking up the win.
Jennings was followed by Kim Lawrence of Greenfield, Jerry Small of Arcadia, Keith Morris of Mt. Summit, Joyce Dyer of Greenfield, Ryan Amonett, Josh Neal of Indianapolis, John Massengale of New Castle, Jacob Runion of Mooreland and Vic Pierce of New Castle. Jennings had fast time for the evening at 19.759. Small won the Collins Dash for Cash and the heats went to Lawrence and Neal.
New Castle’s Kenny Boykin won the Street Drag over fellow New Castle resident Gary Branscum.
This weekend the Jenmarco.com UMRA Midgets will join the Late Models, Thunders and Hornets for New Castle Henry County Chamber of Commerce night at the races. Discount coupons worth $3 are available at the Chamber office in New Castle or at several businesses throughout the county. If fans present a rain check from the Founder’s Day 100, they will receive an additional $1 off general admission ticket prices. Check the Mt. Lawn website for complete details.
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