Stewart tops Ft. Wayne race – again FT. WAYNE, Ind. – Second verse, same as the first.
Well, not exactly, but USAC “Triple Crown” winner Tony Stewart did what many of the sellout crowd wanted – win Saturday night at the Ft. Wayne Memorial Coliseum. And just like he did in Friday’s campaign, he battled from midpack to take the point early.
On Saturday, he started ninth, one spot behind where he was Friday, but it took him one less lap to get to the front. He stayed in eighth after the first lap, then picked off four cars on the second and was past Rich Corson – whom he took the lead from Friday – on Lap 7 on the inside of Turn 2 and ran away.
Without any hesitation, it may also be noted.
In fact, Stewart’s position was never in question. After taking the lead, he put a straightaway between his No. 2 Our Gang Poker Club Munchkin/VW and that of Corson’s Stealth/Fontana by Lap 10. Within three more laps, the Rushville, Ind. native had begun lapping the tail end of the field, and had half the field lapped by Lap 25.
His job was made interesting, however, when the event’s third caution came out for Arin McIntosh’s stalled car. The field was bunched together, and with crafty work of the slower cars, Corson – a Rumble in Ft. Wayne winner in 2004 – was able to close to within inches of Stewart’s car.
But Stewart made no mistake about who was king Saturday. He pulled away to more than double digit car lengths after only two laps of green, then preceded to lap other cars additional times before an incident on Lap 52, which he spun Mike Fedorcak around in Turn 4.
Ironically, it was Fedorcak whom Stewart had purchased the Munchkin from in 2004 at a annual poker party. Stewart had also claimed to be Fedorcak’s assumed son, going under the pseudonym Mikey Fedorcak Jr.
Stewart was never challenged on the restart, and led Dave Darland by more than a straightaway at the checkered flags.
“We got lucky two nights in a row on the starts,” said Stewart, who has won all four “Rumble in Ft. Wayne” races in the last three seasons. “We were just lucky because we were on taking the right line.”
“Every time we’re here, Dave Darland is the toughest car out there, so we just know we need to get out in front as quickly as we can.”
Darland overcame a series of hard times throughout the evening. He was involved in an incident near the completion of the second heat, which forced him to compete in the consolation race. He also was involved in a three-car tangle with McIntosh and Tony Elliott on Lap 28, only to restart. Elliott had just taken second at that point.
Filling out the remainder of the Top 5 were Fedorcak, Kyle Robbins and Billy Wease.
Corson, Elliott, Tracy Hines and Kyle Robbins won heats, while Stewart, McIntosh and Patrick Wilda won semifeatures.