The timing could not have been better for Dalton Armstrong to have won his first Super Late Model race of the season on Monday afternoon in the World Stock Car Festival 100 at the Winchester Speedway in Indiana.
The triumph was his first since last summer and allowed him to punch a ticket into the CRA Super Series championship race at the Winchester 400 on October 8.
Fortune smiled upon Armstrong who took the lead on Lap 47 when a dominant Cole Rouse fell off the pace on the frontstretch. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver had led since lap 7 but couldn’t close when his No. 51 lost power.
It was later determined that the upper a-arm wasn’t secured on the KBM Toyota.
That left Armstrong with a significant lead over Raphael Lessard and Travis Braden. Braden took second-place on Lap 86 and closed the gap to a second but simply ran out of time to overtake Armstrong and the Scott Neal Racing No. 7.
“Scott kept telling me where Braden was,” Armstrong told CRA announcer Andrew Hayn over public address system. “A part of me wanted a caution and another part of me knew better. I was just exhausted. I need to be in better shape for the 400. But I saved enough just in case and it all worked out.”
When Armstrong returns in October, it will be for a championship. With his victory, he will be one of four drivers in the Championship 4. The other three will be determined on September 16 at Toledo Speedway in Ohio.
Armstrong hasn’t won since July 16 of last year when he captured the Redbud 400. It’s been a trying year since then. He earned the pole for the Circle City 100 at Lucas Oil Raceway but had been kept out of Victory Lane.
Now he will enter the Winchester 400 with a chance at redemption after losing the 2016 crown to Cody Coughlin.
“It’s not been a good year for us,” Armstrong said. “Now we have momentum going into Toledo and Winchester. It’s actually been kind of a bad year, really. This playoff has been good to us.”
Even though he finished second, Braden felt satisfied, knowing he is in good position to repeat as Winchester 400 winner based off his Labor Day race speed.
“These Platinum Motorsport cars are so awesome,” Braden said. “I had to search around a little bit but had good speed no matter where we went. Platinum gave me a good car but I can’t wait for the 400. We’re just a few adjustments away.”
Reigning CARS Tour Super Late Model champion finished third, with Tommy St. John finishing fourth in his final career Super Late Model start. Johnny VanDoorn completed the top-5.
VanDoorn takes over the CRA standings with Logan Runyon and Wes Griffith holding the provisional transfer spots for the other three championship race positions. Hunter Jack suffered a DNF and likely faces a must-win scenario at Toledo to advance.
The unofficial results can be found below.
- Dalton Armstrong
- Travis Braden
- Raphael Lessard
- Tommy St. John
- Johnny VanDoorn
- Jon Beach
- Hope Hornish
- Christian Eckes
- Logan Runyon
- Wes Griffith Jr.
- Cole Rouse
- Terry Fisher Jr.
- Rick Turner
- Tyler Ankrum
- Dave Barnhart
- Jeff Fultz
- Hunter Jack
Note: Short Track Scene was not at this event but watched online via the Speed 51 Pay-Per-View broadcast