National Short Track Championships: Hoffman claims fourth crown

Jody Deery, CEO of Rockford Speedway, proudly displays the winner's trophy and checkered flag to "Fast Eddie" Hoffman of Wheaton, Ill., Sunday afternoon, Sept. 29. Hoffman was dominant during the 48th Annual National Short Track Championships at Rockford Speedway, leading 197 of the 200 laps, en route to his fourth career NSTC win. (Photo by Jim Ambruoso, courtesy of Rockford Speedway)

By Eric Huenefeld

LOVES PARK, Ill. — It’s been a long time coming for “Fast Eddie” Hoffman.

Sunday afternoon, Sept. 29, Hoffman was dominant during the 48th Annual National Short Track Championship (NSTC) at Rockford Speedway, leading 197 of the 200 laps, en route to his fourth career National Short Track Championship. The win marked Hoffman’s first NSTC win since 2005.

Hoffman started the 200 laps outside the front row, alongside teen-ager Austin Nason. Hoffman was able to run out to the early lead and hold off several challenges from several challengers throughout the main event. Steve Rubeck was the only driver to momentarily snag the lead from Hoffman, edging ahead shortly after lap 50. Hoffman later survived numerous challenges from defending NSTC winner Rich Bickle during race’s middle stages.

Late in the race, local favorite Jon Reynolds Jr. raced to the runner-up spot and gave Hoffman a quick challenge for the lead. But as the race rolled toward its conclusion, Hoffman stretched what was a 10-foot advantage into a full straightaway advantage. Hoffman was never seriously challenged over the final 20 laps, en route to the victory. In winning his fourth NSTC, Hoffman moved into third on the all-time NSTC wins list, trailing only Steve Carlson and Joe Shear, who both won eight National Short Track Championships.

Reynolds, who earlier in the day took the victory in the 108-lap Big 8 Series event, settled for second place. The runner-up finish for Reynolds was his best-ever NSTC Super Late Model finish, bettering a fifth-place run in 2010. Sussex, Wis., driver Steve Apel finished the race in third position, his best-ever Rockford Speedway finish and first-ever NSTC top five. Following are the full results of the 200-lap race:

Veteran driver Rich Bickle is inducted into the Rockford Speedway Walk of Fame. (Photo by Jim Ambruoso, courtesy of Rockford Speedway)

1. Eddie Hoffman; 2. Jon Reynolds Jr.; 3. Steve Apel; 4. Rich Bickle; 5. Austin Nason; 6. Larry Schuler; 7. Landry Potter; 8. Josh Nelms; 9. Rick Corso; 10. Jeremy Lepak; 11. Pauly Shafer; 12. Josh Wallace; 13. Brian Johnson Jr.; 14. Stevie Campbell; 15. Steve Rubeck; 16. Ricky Bilderback; 17. Michael Bilderback; 18. Bobby Wilberg; 19. Lowell Bennett; 20. Braison Bennett; 21. Mike Strupp; 22. Rob Maynor; 23. Erik Pierce; 24. Brandon Hill; 25. Casey Johnson; and 26. Mark Sontag Jr.

The opening night of the 48th Annual National Short Track Championships had a little something for everyone. Wild racing, boiling tempers and non-stop action ruled the night, as most of the evening’s feature events came down to the bitter end.

In the Weekly Warrior Late Model main event, 2013 Rockford Speedway Track Champion Alex Papini continued his year-long dominance, winning the evening’s 48-lap main event. Papini, who started in the eighth position, wrestled the lead away from Jake Gille just past the race’s halfway point. The win was Papini’s 10th of the year at Rockford, including eight wins on Saturday nights and a win in the season-opening Spring Classic. Tom Gille ended up edging past his son Jake for the second spot. Fast qualifier Jon Reynolds Jr. came home in fourth, with Dan Lensing rounding out the top five.

Rockford’s Matt Lundberg had the best seat in the house for the 40-lap Sportsman main event, starting from the outside front row. Lundberg was able to eventually work past pole-sitter Kody Hubred and stay ahead of the chaos behind him, en route to his flag-to-flag victory. Kyle Lapier finished the race second, following a late-race challenge for the lead, while Jason Thomas came home in third.

Rockford Speedway's CEO Jody Deery holds a checkered flag over Alex Papini of Machesney Park, who won the Weekly Warrior Late Model main event. The 2013 Rockford Speedway Late Model track champion, Papini continued his year-long dominance by winning his 10th feature event of the season. (Photo by Jim Ambruoso, courtesy of Rockford Speedway)

2013 Rockford Speedway American Short Tracker Champion Nick Cina Jr. finished off his year in style, not only taking fast qualifier honors earlier in the evening, but then later winning the division’s 40-lap feature event. Cina capitalized on an incident between leader George Sparkman and challenger Lapier in the race’s final laps. The win was Cina’s fourth of 2013. Jake Gille finished the 40 laps in second spot, with Zach Rodriguez third.

Terrance Robinson used a bold late-race move to wrangle the lead away from Jason Van Hise in the 40-lap Road Runner main event. Robinson then held off the challenges of Van Hise and Arlyn Roush for the feature win. Van Hise ended the race in second, ahead of 2013 Track Champion Roush, who settled for third.

Watertown, Wis.’s, Nick Schmidt topped the 25-lap Hornet vs. Bandit Challenge, assuming the lead after a later race skirmish between Chase Munns and Zach Sontag. 2013 Rockford Speedway Bandit Champion Tim Dickson was the race runner-up, with Heather Stark taking third.

For the second consecutive year, Josh Thiering ended the opening night of National Short Track Championships in victory lane, victorious in the 15-lap Figure 8 feature event. Dave Lumsden Jr. was the runner-up in the criss-crossing main event.

Posted Oct. 2, 2013

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