Mintz Breaks Long Attica Dry Spell
ATTICA, Ohio – You would have to excuse Craig Mintz if it took him a few minutes to remember where victory lane is at Attica Raceway Park.
The track’s defending champion hasn’t won a sprint car feature since July 2013, but he broke that dry spell in a big way Friday by dominating the 410 sprint feature on Sutton Bank/Fisher Performance/Construction Equipment and Supply Night.
“I didn’t know where to go. I had to ask the guys at the scales where the horse track was,” joked Mintz.
“We got up here just once last year and Fremont’s been kind of our nemesis. We love coming here and this GF1 chassis likes this place too. I was on the gas as much as I could. When you’re leading like that. I’ve lost too many of them with two or three to go just because you get into kind of a mode where you’re sitting still and not doing anything. I just kept trying to push and push and push and the lapped cars held their line and we did our job and here we are,” added Mintz.
Taylor Ferns and Brandon Martin brought the field to the green in the 30-lap 410 sprint feature. The pair would bang wheels down the front stretch with Martin stopping with a broken rear suspension. The second attempt at the start now had Ferns and Chris Andrews in the front row with Ferns gaining the advantage as Andrews fell back to Mintz with Caleb Griffith, Brian Lay, Brad Bowman and Travis Philo in tow.
Ferns was pulling away when she spun in turn two on lap two, handing the lead to Andrews. On the restart Mintz drove to the high side of Andrews to grab the lead with Griffith, Lay, Bowman and 11th starter Gary Taylor in pursuit. Griffith would steal second from Andrews on lap four.
While Mintz pulled away, Griffith ran comfortably in second with Andrews locked in a torrid battle with lay for third. The caution would fly on lap nine as Ferns spun again in turn two. When the green flew Mintz did also, pulling away as Griffith and Andrews now battled for second with Taylor, Lay, Philo and Bowman giving chase.
Mintz caught the back of the pack on lap 17 but Griffith could not close. With 9 laps to go, Mintz and Griffith were unchallenged as Andrews, Taylor and Philo battled for third. Taylor would take the position on lap 23 but with four to go Andrews rallied.
Mintz took the checkered nearly 12 car lengths ahead of Griffith as Andrews got around Taylor late for third with Philo rounding out the top five.
The last four laps of the Summit Racing Equipment UMP Late Model feature were exciting to say the least. Ryan Markham and Jeff Babcock were battling for the lead and encountered heavy lapped traffic that was battling side by side. When one of the lapped cars got out of shape it was almost disaster. But, Markham maintained his poise to claim his second win of the season at Attica. The Ashland, Ohio, driver has five overall wins in 2014 (two at the NAPA Wayne County Speedway and one at Hilltop Speedway) and it was his third career victory at Attica.
“That was a little hairy there. I got out there and I was kind of just cruising and I thought I had a pretty good deal and then I saw somebody’s nose on the bottom. I thought I’d better pick up it. I have to thank everyone that’s helping us out this year. This Rocket Chassis is running really good. It’s one of them years and I just want to keep it going,” said Markham.
“I’ve never had a start of season like this. Usually we don’t start getting rolling till about June. I think I’ve only ever won one race in April before this. It’s been a phenomenal year. This race car is working good and we’re keeping after it,” added Markham.
Last week Bobby Clark led the Foster’s Auto Body 305 Sprint feature until the final lap when Nate Dussel squeezed by for the win. Clark got a measure of redemption Friday, holding off Dussel on a couple of late race restarts to claim his 14th career victory at Attica. Clark now sits seventh on the track’s all-time win list for the 305 sprint division.
“That makes up for last week. We’ve been getting better and better every week. It’s taken me and Dave (Foos, crew chief) a little while to get to know each other. We’re coming,” said Clark.
“When you look up and see that No. 1 behind you on the scoreboard, that’s as bad as anything knowing he’s there,” added Clark.