by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher photo: Jacob Hord
After a week off due to rain, Attica Raceway Park kicked off the Fourth of July weekend with an action packed night of racing. After getting off to a slow start due to lots of rain throughout the week, and a slow-moving pop-up shower, Attica clicked off race after race and before we knew it, it was time for the 30 lap Feature for the 410’s.
Travis Philo and DJ Foos led the field to the green flag, with Philo taking the early lead. Philo had himself a one second lead, and held that lead while he worked the top side of the track. Foos started to cut into that lead, though. With 23 laps to go, Foos was right on Philo’s rear bumper. The next lap saw the lead duo enter into lapped traffic. Philo fared well, slicing through the slower cars with ease, while Foos had some issues and fell back .907 seconds. That lead evaporated for Philo in an instant, as he bobbled in turns three and four, putting Foos on Philo’s heels.
With 17 laps remaining, Foos made a move for the lead, and it stuck. There was only one problem: the yellow flag came out at the same time. Fourth-running Cap Henry and a lapped car came together, breaking Henry’s front axle. Philo got to hold onto the lead over Foos, Byron Reed, Caleb Griffith, and Cole Macedo as the green came back out with 17 laps to go. The yellow flag immediately came back out for Attica points leader Cole Macedo, who’s rear wing posts broke, blocking Macedo’s view, and forcing him to relinquish his fifth place spot, ending his night early in the process.
Philo held serve on this restart, but at the halfway point, Foos was again, right there. The next two laps saw Foos take a stab at Philo. Foos would rip the top of turns one and two, get a massive run down the backstretch, and throw a slider at Philo in turns three and four. Both times, Philo held his own. Another yellow flag brought on another restart. It’s worth mentioning that Philo got on the gas at a different spot on each restart, leaving Foos to guess where to go at. Anywho, on this restart, Foos got a good jump on Philo and attempted a slider for the lead, but just couldn’t make it stick.
“I’ve watched guys a lot, and if you do the same thing every restart, they’re going to catch on and they’ll be right on your rear,” said the No. 5T Philo. “I tried to mix it up, and keep DJ guessing.”
With only ten laps remaining, Foos was building momentum on the top of turns one and two like he had been. Foos got another huge run down the backstretch, and he and Philo made contact, almost sending Foos for a ride. This also changed how Philo ran the rest of his race.
“I got into some moisture off of two, I got into DJ’s left front, I didn’t know he was there. I got into him with my right rear, and thought it was going flat, so the last 10 or so laps I wasn’t up there, banging the cushion where I needed to be,” said Philo. Philo did come over to Foos’s trailer to apologize and shake hands with DJ. There doesn’t seem to be any ill-will on either side.
Foos fended off Reed and went back to work on catching Philo. Foos had his momentum built up once again, and was going to take a shot at Philo with seven to go, but a yellow for Andrew Palker threw a wrench in those plans. The next restart was negated by another yellow for debris.
There were only five laps left now, and this would be the last restart of the race. Foos got another massive run down the backstretch, but Philo defended perfectly, taking Foos’ line away going into turns three and four the last few laps. Foos was right there, but just couldn’t capitalize. Philo picked up his seventh career Attica win, with Foos, Chris Andrews (from the tail), Byron Reed, and Caleb Griffith rounding out the top five.
“It had to have been a hell of a race to watch,” said Philo. “DJ and I are really close friends, and it was a lot of fun. He was probably a little bit better than us. Obviously I’d like to start deeper in the field, and then come through the field and win it, but we started on the front row and didn’t back up.”
DJ Foos may not have picked up the win, but he did know exactly what type of race it was going to be, and his instincts weren’t wrong:
“Travis and I raced each other really hard. With each of us starting on the front row, it was going to be a very grueling race. I knew that there would be sliders and banging wheels; and all that happened. I’m happy for my guys, but mad for myself for not being able to get the job done. I really thought I had the better car, and my closing speed on Travis was so good, and I just didn’t get the job done. I would’ve loved to go 30 laps straight, but it didn’t and tonight just wasn’t our night. We have speed back in our race car though, and I’m really looking forward to going back to Waynesfield tomorrow.”
Philo has had a solid year, this being his first win, but he now has seven Top 5 and eleven Top 10 finishes. I’ve noticed that Philo gets stronger as the year goes on, so as we get into the back-half of the season, Philo has some good momentum to keep building and adding on to his solid 2021 campaign.
“We’ve been fairly decent, but we have struggled a little bit. Tonight was good, definitely a big confidence booster. We’re going to one of my favorite tracks tomorrow at Waynesfield, so I’m looking forward to that. We ran third there earlier this year, so hopefully we can pick up another win tomorrow.”