by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher

Mother nature tried her darndest, even winning night one of the Core & Main Spring Nationals, but the green flag flew on Saturday night as the 410’s battled for $6,000 to win, and the 305’s vied for a $1,200 payday. Cap Henry would find himself in victory lane for the 410’s, and Jimmy McGrath Jr. would win his first career race in the 305 division. Some other noteworthy things include: 

Axsom is the Real Deal: I’ve watched Axsom a handful of times in a winged sprint car the last year or so, including last weekend at Port Royal, and Saturday at Attica. This kid has an immense amount of talent. He was smooth in his heat race at Port Royal before finishing 15th. He won his heat race Saturday night at Attica, made the dash, and would start ninth in the feature. He hung around for the first ⅔ of the race, but those last nine or ten laps, he turned the afterburners on. He passed some of Attica’s best, with ease as he chased down Cap Henry for the win. Axsom ran out of laps, but this was definitely a head-turning race for me, and I think Axsom will put a lot of people on notice this year.

Wilson Snags a Podium: After a dismal start to his season, a night that ended while lining up for his heat race, Greg Wilson needed to bounce back ASAP. He did just that on Saturday. You don’t typically see Wilson excel on the tracks that send a driver bouncing through the corners, but Wilson hit his marks just right, and found some pace near the end of the feature. He battled hard with Axsom, Jacobs, and Dussel near the end of the feature, and came home with a very respectable third place finish. Just what the doctor ordered. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come this season for the veteran. The racing is just that much better when Wilson is competitive.

Steering Plagues Thomas Again: Just a few weeks after a steering malfunction likely cost Cale Thomas a win, a broken steering gear thwarted Thomas again Saturday night as Thomas was battling Henry for the lead. Some terrible luck for the pilot of the Jay Kiser Racing #23 machine, but once they get their steering figured out, they should be some heavy-hitters for the rest of the 2024 season. 

Elliott Impresses: Bobby Elliott hasn’t been racing 410’s all too long, this just maybe his second full year. Saturday was his season debut, and he looked good. He cruised to a heat race win, and would start seventh in the feature. In a stacked field like Attica had, just making the feature is an accomplishment, but Elliott not only started seventh, that’s where he also finished. He picked his way through the tricky ruts, and brought home his car in one piece, and a very respectable finish against Ohio’s toughest competition. Keep your eye on this kid this year.

The Highs and Lows: Bryce Lucius scored his first 410 win on Opening Night a few weeks back. He came back Saturday night with plenty of speed. As he passed his way into third place, it appeared he may have something for leaders Cap Henry and Cale Thomas. All that fell apart just past lap 10, as Lucius took one of the biggest rides I’ve ever seen at Attica off the banking of turns one and two. Lucius made contact with a lapped car and it launched him, sending him all the way across the horse track. Thankfully, Lucius hopped right out of his car. His car didn’t fare so well, though. Sprint car racing gives, and it certainly takes. 

McGrath Scores the 305 Win: Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and Jimmy McGrath may agree with that after Saturday. He started on pole of the 305 feature, but quickly had to deal with Jamie Miller, who had a very fast race car. Miller even got by McGrath on a restart, but a red flag came out, negating the pass. Miller couldn’t get as good of restarts as McGrath in the marathon 305 feature. Eventually, a rut in turns three and four bit Miller, tipping Miller over. McGrath really wasn’t challenged the rest of the race, winning his first career sprint car race over Steve Rando and Brandon Moore. What’s even wilder than the Miller DNF, is the fact that Paul Weaver didn’t make the feature after a DNF in his heat race. Sometimes the stars align, and combined with a fast racecar, it’s your night in the 305’s.

Hat Shakes: I was surprised to see Attica give racing a go on Saturday. It practically rained all week in northwest Ohio, and it didn’t stop raining until about 4pm on Friday. Props to Pork Chop and the track crew for getting the track ready after nearly four or five inches of rain in a 7-10 day span, on already very saturated ground. It would’ve been easy to have just pulled the plug on the weekend, but not only did we get to race, we had a very decent track to race on. Sure, it had some ruts, but with that much rain, it was hard to ask for anything better. There was a little dust to start the night, but I imagine that the track was packed so tight during the week, that it was going to blow off early in the night before getting racy. That amount of effort should not go unnoticed.