THE TURN THREE TRIUMPH
Budzevski, Dunn author spectacular finish in Limited Sportsman tilt – JW Martin
Cory Dunn called it crazy. Karl Budzevski knew it was epic. In the aftermath of Saturday night’s Collision Plus Limited Sportsman feature, both drivers agreed on one thing: it was fun.
Turn three at Motor Mile Speedway was the site of one of the most riveting finishes in the track’s storied history. An unassuming stretch of pavement at the entrance of the third turn became the de facto finish line as the thrilling 40-lap Limited Sportsman feature climaxed with a rare ruling by track officials.
What transpired before and after the bizarre finish has cemented the contest as an instant classic.
One race after contact with Budzevski clouded Dunn’s first-career Limited Sportsman victory, the drivers were once again embroiled in a tense battle for the win as the laps began to dwindle. This time, Budzevski showcased the dominant car, leading a race-high 25 laps. And like Dunn, Budzevski would face adversity in pursuit of his second checkered flag of the season.
The event’s second and final caution flag on lap 30 staged a 10-lap dash to the checkers, with Budzevski and Dunn starting on the front row. Budzevski reassumed command of the lead on the restart, with Dunn’s no. 75 inches off the back bumper of Budzevski’s no. 26. One lap following the restart, Dunn sprinted to the inside of Budzevski in turn one, initiating a thrilling nine-lap duel for the victory. Dunn managed to forge ahead of Budzevski on lap 32, and with the no. 75 occupying the preferred groove, Dunn completed the pass entering turn three.
One lap later, a nudge from Budzevski in the apex of turns three and four created an avenue for Budzevski to race to the inside of Dunn out of the corner. Budzevski muscled alongside Dunn exiting turn two on lap 34, and wrestled the lead away from Dunn in turn four. Dunn immediately launched a crossover move, and for the remainder of the race the lead duo remained two abreast.
The leaders were inseparable as they sprinted to the white flag. Contact at the stripe produced a trail of tire smoke as the top two barreled into turn one, and out of turn two, Dunn emerged with a miniscule lead. Budzevski was resilient from the top groove, however, and as they plunged into turn three door-to-door, Budzevski inched ahead.
Then the caution flag unfurled.
Moments later, Budzevski careened up the turn four banking after contact from Dunn. Budzevski’s no. 26 came to rest at the top of turn four as Dunn lunged for the finish line in first.
Track officials reviewed the finish and awarded Budzevski the win based on a rule that pertains to last-lap caution flags. The rule, which states that the field is frozen at the moment of caution during the last lap of a race, applied to the finish, not for Dunn’s tangle with Budzevski, but for the stopped car of Wesley Thomason on the front stretch. At the moment of caution, Budzevski and Dunn were diving into turn three, with Budzevski ahead by a nose. The finish, per track rules, was conclusive.
“I got out and waited for the verdict,” said Budzevski of the last lap fracas. “I know what it’s like to run the outside here. It’s pretty much my favorite place to run. The problem is you always get used up on the last lap. And you expect that.
“I had a blast,” Budzevski continued. “I was sitting down there after I got spun, and I won’t lie to you: I had a smile on my face.”
Despite the physical nature of the outcome, and the lingering memory of recent history, both drivers displayed impeccable sportsmanship following the race. The prevailing theme: the racing was enjoyable---for the fans and the drivers involved.
“Karl and I left everything we had on the race track. It was a heckuva battle,” exclaimed Dunn. “It was a heckuva lot of fun from the seat of that racecar.”
Jamie Byrd collected his second consecutive podium finish with a third-place showing. Richard Caldwell placed fourth, and Charles Smith rounded out the top five.
IN OTHER DIVISIONS
Mike Looney notched his third Late Model win of the season in the Shively Electric 100 presented by 107.1 WPSK. Justin Carroll, in his first NASCAR WHELEN All-American Series start at Motor Mile Speedway, placed second. Kyle Dudley rounded out the podium.
Doodle Lang scored his third consecutive Carpet Factory Outlet MOD-4 division victory in Saturday night’s 25-lap sprint. Dennis Holdren, driving for the injured Jessie Yopp, finished second. Kirby Gobble completed the podium.
Ryan Cox and Mike Reed split the UCAR twinbill Saturday night. John Davis ran second in the opener, with Peyton Howell placing third. Scott Howell and Ricky Howell, Jr. placed second and third in the nightcap, respectively.