Michael Hinde Claims First Pro Late Win at SpeedfestScott Menlen
Special from Racing America – Michael Hinde claimed the biggest win of his young career on Saturday at Watermelon Capital Speedway with a victory in the Pro Late Model portion of Speedfest.
Further, the 17-year-old did it against two of the best in the discipline in Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway track champions Cole Williams and Dylan Fetcho bearing down upon him over the final laps. It was the kind of performance Hinde needed as he prepares to embark on a full season in the Southern Super Series while also racing numerous marquee Pro Late Model events.
“We’ve been working on this for a long time,” Hinde said. “We just wanted to come here and get some ideas for what this track needs for the Southern Super Series races. I haven’t run a lot of races in the Pro but I really like it and to get the win, I couldn’t be more thankful.”
Fetcho and Williams posted the first and second fastest times in qualifying on Friday but started 10th and 9th due to an overnight invert. Making it even more challenging to come all the way to the front was the decision to count caution laps up to 10 to go due to the freezing conditions in South Georgia on Saturday.
Williams passed Cody Hall with nine laps to go, but just ran out of time after finding the optimal way to pass on relatively fresh tires.
“Honestly, the biggest thing was just getting the timing down on the crossover,” Williams said. “It was so bottom dependent on getting the run out. I finally figured it out around 20 to go, but by time I was second, (Hinde) was a straightaway ahead.”
For his part, Hinde says he was too aggressive early in trying to make up positions immediately.
“I wore out the right front too early,” Fetcho said. “Starting further in the back, you have to use up what you can. By the last 15 laps, I didn’t have enough for those last two cars.”
Perhaps a caution would have made a difference for the past two Nashville champions, or it could have turned into a Speedfest crash fest.
“Maybe I could have got it cooled off,” Fetcho said.
Williams wishes the caution laps hadn’t counted.
“We got to halfway and we had barely raced at all,” Williams said. “That was the biggest thing. That or the extra 25 laps would have given us more time.”
Hinde started seventh and made the winning pass on Hall with 33 laps to go. The first two to congratulate him was Stephen Nasse and crew chief Chris Cater, who have pointed the Hindes in the right direction over the past several months.
“They are huge and I wouldn’t be where I am right now without them,” Hinde said.
Nasse fell off the pace on Lap 46 from inside the top-10 and did not factor into the finish. With the 10-car invert, the first 10 laps were predictably wild with Jake Bollman leading early before giving way to Cody Hall and then Hinde.
Cody Coughlin started the race in 11th but immediately fell off the pace and was forced to park his car in the infield by Lap 14.
JEGS CRA Pro Late Models
1. Michael Hinde
2. Cole Williams
3. Dylan Fetcho
4. Cody Hall
5. Giovanni Ruggiero
6. Cody King
7. Graham Campbell
8. Jake Bollman
9. Cale Hall
10. Tanner Carter
11. William Sawalich
12. Spencer Bragg
13. Zach Johnson
14. Maddison Bragg
15. Joey Strode
16. Dave Killian
17. Zack Dixon
18. Christopher Tullis
19. Derek Griffith
20. Jerry Artuso
21. Jim Wall
22. Hunter Wright
23. Stephen Nasse
24. Brandon Sager
25. Jordan McCallum
26. Dustin Smith
27. Cody Coughlin
28. Chris Munson
29. Kyle McCallum
30. Colin Allman