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View From the Tower:  Redbud 300 Top Race of 2011

By Ken de la Bastide

(January 16, 2012) – For the second consecutive year the Redbud 300 proved to be the best race of the 2011 season at Anderson Speedway, but there were plenty of other highlights during the season that contended for the top honors.

The 2010 edition of the Red Bud 300 was going to proof tough to top after Scott Hantz drove to a thrilling victory. But last year’s race had the fans standing on their feet at the finish.

Florida driver Steve Dorer closed on leader Chase Elliott over the final five laps and it appeared that Elliott, hugging the white stripe was going to hang on for the victory.

But Dorer was not to be denied. Entering turn one of the final lap, Dorer went high into turn one and pulled alongside of Elliott exiting the second turn. The two traded paint going down the back straight and remained door handle to door handle entering turn three.

When Elliott slipped slightly in turn four, it allowed Dorer to gain the advantage and record the victory, the biggest of his late model career.

It should be no surprise that the second best race of 2011 was the marquee event at Anderson Speedway, the Pay Less Little 500.

Although the race was delayed one day by a steady rain, a near capacity crowd witnessed a thrilling finish to the sprint car classic.

When leader Aaron Pierce experienced a problem late in the race, it appeared that “Mr. Little 500” Eric Gordon was going to record his 10th victory.

But Illinois driver Chris Windom and his crew made the right call by pitting late in the race for fresh rear tires. Lap after lap Windom closed on Gordon, who was struggling as his tires were no longer gripping the track.

With five circuits remaining, Windom flew past Gordon and went on to the popular victory.

3) Anderson Speedway fans are always stoked for a good Figure-8 race with the International Outlaw Figure-8 Series dialing up a dandy in June.

Two veteran drivers Gary Bedell and Jack Dossey Jr. staged a nip and tuck battle for most of the 50 lap feature event. On the final lap Dossey had a slight lead over Bedell as they exited the final corner.

With a slower car in front of the two leads, Dossey went to the outside and was slowed by the lapped car, which allowed Bedell to grab the win by a matter of inches at the checkered flag.

4) The inaugural “Willy’s Race” named for late model driver William Mefford, who died in a crash earlier in the year, featured tight racing throughout the pack as a strong field of late models were on hand.

New Castle’s Jason Atkinson led all 100 laps, but it was not a walk in the park on the way to victory. Scott Neal made a late charge storming through the field using the outside and inside lines, but came up a few laps short of the win.

5) The return of the late models to Anderson Speedway also produced the fifth best race of the season as Terry Cater captured the championship.

Cater won the opening race of the season and after setting Herald Bulletin fast time during qualifications jumped into the lead. But for the final 22 laps Danny Trent was glued to Cater’s rear bumper.

Despite being nudged several times by Trent, Cater refused to yield the low line and recorded the victory.

6) The CRA EDCO Welding Street Stocks made the list with an exciting finish late in the racing season.

Dave Bice lost a lap with a flat tire early in the event and thanks to the “Lucky Dog” was back in a position for the win. After working his way to the point, it appeared that Bice was going to record the win when on the last lap a spin forced him to slow dramatically to avoid wrecking.

That was all veteran driver Jeff Lane to blow past the slowed Bice to record the victory. Even Lane admitted in victory lane that the win came as a surprise.

7) The CRA Sullivan RV Sportsman also provided an unexpected finish in August when Keith Sterkowitz, passed Atkinson with two laps remaining to record his third win of the season at Anderson Speedway.

8) The WMDH ThunderCars always prove to be interesting events when they line up for the 200-lap Enduro races.

The first Enduro of the year saw Benny Blevins surviving a race of attrition and on-track incidents to maintain the lead for most of the second half of the race. But all eyes were on Jeff Williams who came back from three laps down to contend for the win.

Blevins was aware that Williams was closing in the final stages of the 200-lap race and recorded the victory by only .6-tenths of a second.

9) For most of the second half of the season the action in the Front Wheel Drive Oval Division was a dog fight between Williams and Jerry Dane with neither driver setting for second best.

The 100-lap feature event for the division was no different, but several other drivers including Kevin Harmon and Colt Moore decided to have an impact on the race.

Early in the race Dane and Williams swapped the lead several times in traffic and on restarts. Late in the race Dane was pulling away from the field when he suddenly slowed on lap 88 with a broken front axle.

That gave the lead to Moore, but Williams made the pass for the lead on lap 94 with an awesome three wide move coming off the fourth corner. At the finish Williams, limping along with a sour power plant was able to hold off Harmon for the victory.

10) The Best Way Disposal National Crown makes the list as twice Josh Tharp saw big leads disappear, but was able to hold off defending champion Curtis Chapman at the finish for the victory.