By Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher

After nine grueling nights, the 42nd Annual Ohio Speedweek concluded Saturday night at the Atomic Speedway south of Chillicothe, Ohio.

Danny Sams was in the midst of a breakout week, already picking up wins at Hilltop on Tuesday and Muskingum on Thursday. Cap Henry also had two wins, and was leading the Speedweek points standings. Henry swept the Friday shows at Attica and Millstream. They were your front row for the 35 lap, $10,000 to win Feature in the southern hills of Ohio.

Sams got the jump on the initial start, as Cap Henry and Cole Duncan battled for the second spot. Sams gapped Henry and Duncan by 1.740 seconds by lap three, when the caution flag came out for Max Guilford, who spun out in turns three and four. The ensuing restart was a good one for Sams, as Skylar Gee got by Duncan for third. The yellow would come right back out a lap later though, as Kasey Jedrzejek spun in turns three and four, thankfully being missed by the back half of the field.

The longest green flag stretch would ensue, and it was a doozy. Sams once again got the jump on Henry, who now had his hands full with Gee. Gee would take second momentarily, but a run down the backstretch helped Henry maintain the second spot, then Duncan would retake third from Gee. This would continue for most of the race. Sams had a 1.872 second lead on lap nine as he got into lapped traffic for the first time.

That’s when Henry and Duncan would start reeling in the leader. By lap 11, the lead was down to 1.134 seconds as Sams tried to navigate through traffic. Traffic that was about as fast as the leader. On lap twelve, the lead was slashed to .891 seconds, and it would stay steady around that .8-.9 mark until around lap 19, where the lead would only be a half second. Sams was trying to lap Guilford, who was trying to stay on the lead lap. Thankfully for Sams, Henry, Duncan, Gee and now Greg Wilson were all vying for spots two through five.

Gee would get back by Duncan for third, and would challenge Henry for second once again, but to no avail. Henry would then put a little distance between himself and Gee, Duncan, and Wilson.

On lap 28, Sams made what could’ve been the race-winning move, and finally put Guilford a lap down, putting a valuable car between himself and Henry. Sams lead then grew to 1.317 seconds, as Gee, Duncan, and Wilson caught back up to Henry. But, the yellow would come out one more time on lap 31/35 for a flat tire on the Sterling Cling machine.

This would set up a four lap shootout for $10,000. The clean air was too much of an advantage for Sams, and he would use it to win his third Speedweek show, the biggest win of his blossoming career. Henry would finish second, picking up the Speedweek title in the process, with Skylar Gee rounding out the podium.

“It was tricky up top, and that’s where I like to be. We got out front and got into some thick lapped traffic and some cars passed me back, but we came out on the other end perfect. $10,000 is absolutely insane. That little bit of money is huge for this little team. It’s just my mom and dad here, my girlfriend is working the T-Shirt tent, but we’ve had a phenomenal week, all Glory to God, this is the biggest week of my career and I hope this can carry us somewhere,” Sams said after the race.

A restart with four laps left, and $10k on the line is enough to make any driver nervous, especially with Cap Henry behind you, but Sams handled it like a pro and nailed the restart: “It was everyone’s mindset; four laps for $10k. Everyone was going to be going for it, I knew I was fast, and needed to make a good, clean restart. I changed it up and went to the top, [the car] hooked up great and I went into one, drove it in there deep, never saw anyone under me and figured I was good to go. Once I got out front I needed good, clean laps, don’t hit the wall, and keep it on the top to keep the momentum up, and it paid off.”

For Cap Henry and the 33W team, it was a dream week. The team had struggled some early in the season, but had also won some as well. Speedweek gave Henry and Co. nine chances to figure out more about the car, and it certainly paid off. Minus a P17 finish at Wayne County Monday night, Henry didn’t finish outside of the top five the rest of the week, including wins at Attica and Fremont, and podium finishes at Waynesfield, Hilltop, Muskingum, and Atomic. It was the team that we saw dominate Ohio in 2023.

An Ohio Speedweek title has eluded Henry throughout his career, he’s picked up wins and led the points, but just hadn’t sealed the deal. That box is now checked for Henry.

“It’s really cool and means a lot,” said Henry about winning the Speedweek title. “It’s something that, ever since I started touring full-time with the All Stars, Speedweek was such a big deal. The fans that followed it all week long, I always thought it was so cool and something I always wanted to win. To finally win it, and lead it most of the week, we had such a good week and I’m proud of everybody involved. It takes a whole team to do this. Zack’s [Myers, crew chief] preparation showed a lot of times, getting repairs done in work areas and between races changing engines and steering gears. To pull this off after nine straight days means a lot.”

Henry credited his team for the consistency for the whole week, consistency the team had been missing through the start of this season.

“Zack working really hard, Chris and Chad [Wilson] working really hard, Gary Griff giving us some really good engines. Zack and Doug Berryman have worked really hard since the start of the season to get our shock package figured out and get rolling again. I think Zack figured some things out with our cars, and it showed. We qualified really good all week long and raced really well. That’s what it takes– someone who is willing to keep working at it, and I’m happy he’s on my side.”