ROSSBURG, OH (Sept. 21) — Eldora Speedway’s 32nd annual Four Crown Nationals produced some new faces in victory lane Saturday night, as Chris Windom (Sprint, Silver Crown) and Rico Abreu (Midget) wheeled to impressive wins.
With Friday’s card falling to the weather, it was an all USAC (United States Auto Club) affair, as the Indianapolis based sanctioning body boasted their three National divisions before a hearty crowd.
The Midget division kicked off the evening’s feature events on the .500-mile clay oval with Bryan Clauson shooting out front, followed by Bobby East and Abreu. Clauson began increasing his lead as Abreu moved into challenge East, with a quickly approaching Christopher Bell up to fourth.
Suddenly Clauson dropped off the pace with a broken water pump, allowing Abreu to inherit the lead, with Bell tagging right behind. That duo instantly set up a battle that had the crown on their feet. Back and forth they swapped the lead, only inches from the concrete wall. Abreu would be in command at the finish line, but the balance of the trip around the legendary oval, it was back and forth.
Time ran out for Bell, despite a last lap effort; crossing the line .245 seconds behind Abreu. Tracy Hines moved up to third at the finish, followed by East and Dave Darland.
For Hines, that was the highlight of his night, as things went downhill from that point.
When the green flag flew on the Sprint Car finale, it was Daron Clayton taking total command of the early running. And then, it was a strange turn of events that had the outcome of the finish in doubt right through the checkered flag.
First it was Chase Stockon, who after mounting a challenge on Clayton for the top spot, retired suddenly to the pit area during a caution period to allow Hines a shot at Clayton. Hines repeatedly moved in close, but could never complete the deal. However, after making contact with a lapped car six laps from the finish, Clayton flipped violently in turn two.
That turned the lead over to Hines, with Windom and Jac Haudenschild completing the top three. Windom was reeling in Hines with Haudenschild in tow, and then coming down for the checkered flag, Hines made contact with the turn three wall to send him into a series of wild flips and out of the race.
After that turn of events, and knowing the veteran Haudenschild was on his tail, Windom was aggressively cautious on the final lap; the lap the produced his first-ever Eldora win. Haudenschild finished .613 seconds behind in runner-up, with Darland, Clauson and Robert Ballou completing the top five.
Like many drivers doing double and triple duty throughout the night, Windom dashed from the Sprint Car victory lane to get behind the wheel of his Silver Crown machine and the final race on the busy card.
It was Bobby East darting into the early lead of the night capper, with Bell right behind him and Windom in third. East slipped off the pace somewhat on lap three, allowing a rocketing Windom to dart from third to first in one-half of a lap. After tasting victory once, Windom was hungry for more and he set sail towards the checkered.
However, it was Hines again mounting a challenge towards the front, in hopes of erasing the memories of the race just prior. Hines inched closer and closer, but with two laps to go in the 50-lap chase, he again made contact with the outer wall and again flipped viciously off of turn four, in an almost identical location as a few minutes prior.
As he walked dejectedly back to the pit area, Windom was able to hold off Matt Westfall in the final two laps to take his second Eldora win within an hour. Shane Cockrum, Taylor Ferns and Dave Darland completed the top five.