Eddie Hoffman was almost ready to settle for a second place finish at Illiana Motor Speedway Saturday night and then the yellow caution flag flew.
Taking advantage of a double-file restart with 13 laps to go, Hoffman raced outside of leader Jeff Cannon, took over the top spot, fought off Cannon’s rebid for the lead and then drove to victory in the season-opening 30-lap Schepel Buick GMC Late Model stock car feature race.
Hoffman of Wheaton, Ill., and Illiana’s Late Model champion in 2012, wheeled his Chevrolet Impala SS to the victory on the half-mile paved oval, defeating Kouts' Cannon, Mike White, Dylan Harmon, Chris King and Len Nowosel. Harmon and Highland’s Mark Ross Jr. were early leaders with Cannon moving into the top spot on lap five.
Cannon, a three-time Illiana track champion, built almost a quarter of a lap lead before the race’s second caution flag fell on Lap 17.
“The engine started missing bad and I thought it was going to blow up,” Hoffman said. “I didn’t want to push it. I figured I’d nurse it and come home with second place money. Mike (White) was catching us. Then the yellow (flag) came out.
“Jeff (Cannon) took the bottom (for the restart) and I was out there (in the outside groove) and we were going to try it (go for the lead). I was surprised, but the car stuck on the outside. The engine was missing and it would come and go. I was good on the outside and when he (Cannon) got back by me (for the lead), it started missing again, but (during) the last few laps it wasn’t too bad.”
Setting a new track record earlier during time trials, Chris Woodall of Blue Island, Ill., was the winner of the 20-lap Turbo Stox division feature race on Illiana’s quarter-mile track. Woodall guided his 1988 Monte Carlo to the win over Ryan Moore of Valparaiso and Eddie Ligue.
Stan Zolodz IV of Hebron scored his career-first Legends division feature race win on the Illiana quarter mile. The 12-year-old, seventh grader led all 15 laps and held a comfortable lead over Matt Govert at the checkered flag. Ryan Lagestee of Schererville was the winner of the 12-lap Pure Stocks main event, defeating Ryan Gilliam and Matt Baikie.
Kenny Myer Jr., a 14-year-old from Calumet Township, held off the challenges of Griffith’s Cole Sutton to win the Bandoleros class feature.
Eddie Hoffman Heads to Victory Lane at Illiana
Late Race Challenge from Jeff Cannon Didn't Stop Former Champion
By Stan Kalwasinski, Illiana Motor Speedway Press Release