SCHERERVILLE | It was a new season of stock car racing at Illiana Motor Speedway on Saturday night, but with an old twist — Eddie Hoffman winning.
Hoffman, the veteran racer from Wheaton, Ill., took home top honors in the 30-lap Schepel Buick GMC Super Late Model stock car feature race as the local raceway kicked off its 66th year of auto racing. Hoffman wheeled his TK Racing-owned Ford Fusion to the victory on the speedway’s half-mile paved oval where he won 10 feature races last season and season championship honors.
The fastest qualifier among 20 entries earlier in the day, Hoffman started 10th in the feature race lineup, but was up to third place by lap seven as several early race caution flags juggled the field.
John Nutley led the early laps with former three-time division champion Jeff Cannon taking control on lap six. Cannon, with Hoffman running a close second, got jammed up behind the slower car of Shawn Bourdelais on lap 19 with Hoffman shooting into the lead with five-time track titlist Mike White also getting by Cannon for second place.
“I knew we were going to get to him (the lapped car) and it was a matter if he went high or if he went low,” Hoffman said about taking the lead. “They were told (at the drivers’ meeting) to go low, but he didn’t. It messed up Jeff and helped me out and then it was a matter of holding off Mike. I couldn’t shake him. He was running good. We need to get a hair better and see if they can keep up and stay with us.”
Hoffman took the checkered flag with a 0.568-second margin of victory over White, who was trailed by Cannon, Nutley and Anthony Danta.
Hobart resident Jacob McKown was the second-ranking driver in 2012, winning three features last season. He won Saturday's 25-lap Turbo Stox feature race on Illiana’s quarter-mile track. Taking the lead from Bobbie Jean Wall on lap 18, McKown raced to a hard fought victory over Matt Arvia and Pat Ligue.
Garrett Harris claimed his first career feature win at the speedway as he captured the 20-lap Legends division main event also on the Illiana quarter-mile. Harris bested multiple-time speedway track champions Chris King and Alex Arelano, who was last year’s Legends champ.
Other quarter mile racing saw Alex Treptow of Lansing win the 15-lap Pure Stocks main event over Colin Robinson and Ricky Wilson.
The dominant driver in the division last year, Stan Zolodz IV of Hebron won the six-lap feature race for young Bandoleros division racers, beating Cole Sutton and Kenny Myer.