Dalton Armstrong Scores Thrilling JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Season Opener At Springport Motor SpeedwayCRA_admin
Fifth season of competition begins for the premier template body / crate engine tour in North America
Springport, Michigan (Sunday, May 3, 2015): The chase for the 2015 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance Championship and the fifth anniversary season for the Salem, Indiana based series began with the running of the Cabin Fever 100 Presented by JEGS.com on Sunday, May 3rd. Springport Motor Speedway, located north of Jackson and south of Lansing in Springport, Michigan served as hosts of the 2015 season opener for the premier template bodied / crate motored series in North America for the second year in a row.
The fast 3/8s (0.375) mile semi-banked paved oval in south Michigan has hosted the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour four times and has produced four different winners. On this day Dalton Armstrong, whose 2015 racing season was already off to a fast start after winning the 2015 Florida Speedweeks Pro Late Model Championship, continued his strong showings from February. The New Castle, Indiana driver grabbed the lead from race long leader, Trevor Berry on lap 67 and then held off strong challenges from 2014 Howie Lettow Memorial Rookie of the Year, 16-year-old Grant Quinlan and then a late charge from 17-year-old Hunter Baize to score his first career JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour victory.
“Man I am so proud of this team for working so hard to get me here; this is going to be a good year for us the way it has started. With the success in Florida and now the opener here? This is amazing.” The elated 20-year-old open-wheeled graduate stated in victory lane after climbing from his #4 Winfield Solutions / Baker Crop Insurance / Ford. “(Car Owner and Crew Chief) Scott Neal and this whole SNR Team have worked their butts off for me. All of last year and now we’re finally where we should be. I want to go out there and try to win a championship for these guys this year.” He added.
After Boyne Machine Company Fast Qualifier, Quinlan drew a six for an inversion, Trevor Berry and the all-time career starts leader in JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour history, Josh Nelms brought a stellar 26-car field to Chief Starter, Brian Duncan’s green flag to officially begin the fifth anniversary season for the tour. Berry would slip up past Nelms in the first set of corners to take the early lead while the rest of the field jockeyed for position behind him. Berry tried to get away from the rest of the pack, but Nelms never let him stray too far out in front while the first 29 laps went caution free. Berry continued to show the way and picked up the D.T.S. Drive Train Specialists Halfway Leader Award after leading lap 50.
Armstrong, who started fourth, stayed with the leaders for the first half of the race. He and Quinlan along-with Baize began their charge towards the race long leader when on lap 67, Armstrong slipped past a fading Berry who would eventually drop out with a broken trailing arm. That left Armstrong and Quinlan to battle for the lead with Baize still lurking behind them. With four laps to go contact between the two leaders sent Quinlan up and over the top of Armstrong’s machine.
On the final restart, Armstrong was able to inch away from Quinlan earning him the AR Bodies Cool Move of the Race Award. Quinlan was then passed a lap later by Baize who would then begin his assault on Armstrong for the lead and win. Armstrong however was up to the challenge and with Defending Tour Champion, Dan Leeck emerging as a late contender, Baize had to then fend off the reigning titlist. This allowed Armstrong to get away from the two battlers and pull away to his first career JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour victory in his 14th career start on the tour.
Baize would come home second in his #13 Mountaineer Firewood / Ford. The Bremen, Kentucky driver, a contender for the ARCA/CRA Super Series Rookie of the Year title in 2015 will make select appearances in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour while contending for the freshman title in CRA’s premier series. When the 17-year-old took the green flag, it was his 27th career start on the tour which moves him up to a tie for ninth all-time in career appearances.
Leeck, the Defending Tour Champion still in search of his first career victory in the series finished third in his #12 Mr. Asphalt / Chevrolet. For the Birch Run, Michigan driver, it was his 11th career top five in 36 starts all-time. The 25-year-old, who started fifth, never left the top five for the majority of the race and was able to muster up a late charge towards the end.
Quinlan, the 2014 Howie Lettow Memorial Rookie of the Year, slipped back to fourth after the final restart and the Harrison, Michigan teenager was able to hang on to that spot in his #28 Quinlan Incorporated / Chevrolet. The 16-year-old driver is the current Overall and Rookie of the Year point’s leader in the ARCA/CRA Super Series. Chris Koslek completed the top five in his #23 West Michigan Tool & Industrial Supply / Chevrolet and earned the first Great Lakes Tire / Hoosier Racing Tire Performance Award after starting 10th.
Kyle Hayden overcame a right front tire rub to finish sixth and earn the Hedman Hedders Husler Award for his perseverance as well as the second Great Lakes Tire / Hoosier Racing Tire Performance Award. Phil Bozell scored a seventh place finish after starting 16th while Mike Stacy was eighth and grabbed the FLUIDYNE High Performance Cool Under Pressure Award after starting 15th and fighting his way into the top 10. Nelms would stay in the top 10 himself in finishing ninth while 17-year-old Cole Rouse completed the top 10. Kevin Zielezinski would get the VanDoorn Racing Development Rookie of the Race Award after finishing 12th as Marc Jacobs scored the Five Star Racecar Bodies Hard-Charger Award by starting 27th and finishing in 13th.
Earlier in the afternoon in Boyne Machine Company Qualifying, Quinlan earned his third career Fast Qualifier Award to move the Great Lakes State teenager to sixth all-time in that category with a 15.155 over the 28 cars on hand. The JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Track Record remains in the possession of 2012 Champion, Daniel Hemric, now a 2015 Rookie of the Year title contender in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series who turned a 15.109 back on July 1st, 2012.
The next race on the 2015 schedule for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance will be the traditional Memorial Day Holiday Weekend stop at Columbus Motor Speedway in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday, May 23rd. The Memorial 100 Presented by JEGS.com will see the JEGS/CRA cars and stars take on the 1/3 (0.333) mile circular shaped paved oval for the fifth year in a row. In four previous appearances to the Buckeye State capital city, Chad Finley has scored two victories at the Central Ohio speed plant (2013 & 2012) while Hunter Baize picked up the most recent win in 2014. Jimmy Carter was the winner of the inaugural JEGS/CRA event at the track in 2011.
For more information about the 2015 racing season for all four touring series’ within Champion Racing Association Powered by JEGS, go to the new and improved series website located at: www.cra-racing.com You can also follow along with all of CRA’s touring series’ on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/ChampionRacingAssociation and on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/CRAracing Finally, for more information about Columbus Motor Speedway, the host track for the second race of the 2015 season for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour, go to the track website at: www.columbusmotorspeedway.com