Hearn Conquers Eastern States 200
VanInwegen started on the inside front row on lap 69, but Edwards had a strong restart, pulling up next to the leader on the front stretch and driving around him in turns three and four to take the lead. Edwards continued to lead on lap 73 when three-time defending Super DIRTcar Series Champion Sheppard returned to the track.
VanInwegen reclaimed the race lead before a lap-77 caution slowed the pace. Off the restart, Hearn powered head on the inside to third, making his way toward Edwards and VanInwegen. Hearn made his way around Edwards on the backstretch in lap 85. Wight slowed in the front stretch in lap 88 to bring the next caution and was unable to return to the race.
On lap 94, VanInwegen still led, followed by Hearn, Friesen and Edwards. Edwards rear-ended Friesen on lap 99, causing Friesen to spin and bringing out the yellow. When pit road opened in lap 102, Friesen ducked in to change both rear tires.
Soon after the lap-105 restart, the yellow was out again with Bachetti against the inside wall in turn two. VanInwegen kept the lead off the restart while McCreadie battled Planck and Donnie Corellis to make his way to fifth place. Hearn kept up to the leader in second, followed closely by Danny Johnson in third.
Hindley was also making his way up after his last pit stop, passing Plank in lap 125 to claim the sixth spot and soon gaining on McCreadie in fifth. Jim Davis was running in fourth after Johnson. On lap 129, McCreadie passed Davis on the outside groove after Hindley attempted to challenge McCreadie from the inside.
Corellis drifted sideways in lap 136 to bring out the yellow flag. VanInwegen pulled to the pits for a tire change, leaving Hearn as the new race leader.
Hearn lead off the lap-141 restart, but an immediate caution brought Hearn and Johnson back to the front row in a double-file restart. Again, Hearn led over Johnson. Behind them, McCreadie found speed around the turns to take third and close in on Johnson. Friesen pulled up beside Davis to challenge for sixth.
With fewer than 50 laps to go, Hindley was fast on the inside, nudging past McCreadie for third on lap 152. A few laps later, he pulled outside Johnson in turns one and two, then tried inside in three and four, but had little luck until Johnson got a flat in lap 155.
Starting again on the front row next to Hearn, Hindley had 40 laps to gain an edge. Hearn charged to the lead on the lap 159 restart before a caution in lap 162 brought the field back together. Off the restart, Hearn kept his lead, but a few green laps let Hindley gain momentum, staying within a couple car lengths of the leader before the yellow flag waved again on lap 173.
Hearn stayed ahead at the next double-file restart, and frequent cautions in the last 20 laps – one each in laps 182, 193 and 198 – were not enough to slow him down. A green-white-checkered finish posed a threat to Hearn’s lead, but instead it was Hindley who fell in the last laps to challenges from Friesen.
“We were able to get up there in the green-white-checkered, and make a better day out of it,” said Friesen who, after pitting twice came back from the rear of the field for a second-place finish. “We had some problems early, we made the call to go in and get some more tires, and go back at it.”
“We were able to overcome some of our adversity,” Friesen continued.
Despite succumbing to Friesen’s last-lap challenge, Hindley was not disappointed with a third-place finish in Sunday’s Eastern States 200.
“I can’t say enough for the car, the car owner, sponsors,” Hindley said. “They gave me great stuff, I had great guys, and we put on a great weekend.”
“I needed a green flag run,” he continued.
Rounding out the top five in Sunday’s race were Jimmy Phelps in fourth and Tommy Meier in fifth.