by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher
“Championship night. Haven’t won a race – Just gonna send it.” That’s what Chris Andrews tweeted Friday afternoon. Maybe it was all a part of his plan, maybe it was a coincidence, but Andrews certainly sent it, and parked the Jay Kiser 23 car on the horse track for the first time all year. The win, thanks to Baumann Auto Group, was worth a nice $7,000, and Andrews had to work for every penny to take the win over Caleb Griffith and Craig Mintz.
Andrews was fastest in qualifying, which meant that he was guaranteed a redraw spot for the feature, as long as he transferred out of his heat race. Andrews transferred, and then drew the pole of the 30 lap feature. Harli White lined up beside Andrews, and they took the field to green with Andrews edging White slightly at the end of the first lap. The red came out on the next lap, as RJ Jacobs, who started fourth, spun in turn two and got clobbered by Cole Macedo, bringing out the red flag.
War ensued on the restart. Andrews initially pulled away from White, who had her hands full with Stuart Brubaker. On lap four, Brubaker went two-for-one and took second from White, and the lead from Andrews coming out of turn four. Brubaker then set a torrent pace, building up his lead to just over a second by lap nine. Brubaker was ripping the top, while Andrews was running the middle, slowly reeling the leader in while Caleb Griffith lurked in third.
On lap 10, Brubaker had reached traffic with a .869 second lead, and Andrews had his hands full with Griffith, who was also looking for his first win of the year. While Andrews and Griffith hashed out who would be second, Brubaker worked through traffic well. He built his lead back up to 1.852 seconds as Griffith wrestled second away from Andrews. Brubaker’s lead was up to 2.215 seconds on lap 14, but more traffic lied ahead. The lead was cut to 1.533 seconds two laps later.
Another two laps passed and it all fell apart for Brubaker. Something broke in the car, making it impossible to steer. Brubaker was a passenger at that point and away he went, off the top of turns three and four, bringing out the yellow flag and giving the lead to Caleb Griffith.
With 13 laps remaining, your top three were Griffith, Andrews, and Craig Mintz. The stage was set for an excellent finish. On the restart, Andrews slid Griffith in turns one and two, but Griffith crossed back under Andrews down the backstretch and held onto the lead. Andrews tried his luck again the next lap, but again, Griffith stood strong. Griffith then started to stretch out his lead and on lap 21, had nearly a second gap to Andrews.
Slowly but surely, Andrews was reeling Griffith in. But, time was running out. With traffic ahead, Andrews cut into Griffith’s lead with only five laps remaining, and showed the leader his nose wing. Andrews made his winning move on lap 27. With a great exit off of turn two, Andrews had a run down the backstretch that Griffith couldn’t block. Andrews slid Griffith in turns three and four, and the pass stuck. Andrews then gapped Griffith by .757 seconds as Griffith had to turn his attention to Craig Mintz.
Andrews cruised to the win, his tenth all-time in the 410 division at Attica, over Griffith, Mintz, Greg Wilson, and White.
It wasn’t a matter of ‘if’ Chris Andrews would find victory lane this year at Attica, but ‘when.’ He just waited to end the Attica season with an exclamation point.
“We struggled a little bit here all year just getting going. We started off strong, but just couldn’t hit our stride,” said Andrews. “Tonight wound up pretty good.”
Andrews wasn’t too worried when he got shuffled back to third after the early red flag: “Stuart took off, and that’s Stuart’s style. He likes to start hard, and he and Caleb got to racing hard and I kind of let them go. I knew once we hit lapped traffic, things would be a lot different, and they were. Caleb was slipping up on top, and we were really good at keeping it straight.”
Continued Andrews, “We reeled him [Caleb Griffith] in, and I knew the laps were winding down and I had to make something happen. We worked really hard, we’ve done a lot of racing and things didn’t really click, but we’ll take a win this late in the year.”