Steve & Adrianna Irwin with the SOD Big Money @ Crystal Motor Speedway
(Photo by TW Photographics)
Stevie Irwin (Fenton, MI) finally got the monkey off his back, and mastered rush-hour traffic to take home the exciting Engine Pro Sprints On Dirt by ARP feature win at Crystal Motor Speedway (Crystal, MI) Saturday night. Irwin started in 2nd place along SOD points leader Brian Smith on the front row, and chased Smith in the early stages of the race. While Smith ran the middle groove and higher, Irwin eventually found the bottom to his liking. As has been commonplace with SOD races having very few cautions in 2016, lapped traffic was heavy for the leaders. Both Smith and Irwin made heart-stopping, crowd pleasing passes. Initially it looked like Smith would cruise to his 4th win, but Irwin settled into his low-rider mode and started reeling in the leader, eventually catching Smith on lap 14. The capacity crowd then got their money’s worth as the two traded the lead back and forth until Irwin finally took command for good. While Smith continued within striking distance of the leader, it was clear that handling was going away on his 2+.
The race was interrupted only once, on lap 11, when Tom Schinderle, running 9th, hit the wall and came to a stop with a flat right rear tire. Jay Steinebach had nowhere to go and came to a stop to avoid Schinderle’s car at the bottom of the track at the start/finish line.
Smith appeared to have a tire seal over, and while doing his best to hold onto a good finish, he bounced off the front straight wall. Although the tire didn’t immediately go flat, his right rear wheel was about 3-4 inches narrower after the impact. He held on, going one lap down on the last lap to finish in 10th place.
Irwin, who splits his time racing winged and non-winged sprints, has won non-winged races this season, but has struggled, for the most part, with wings. Well aware of his issues, Irwin has focused on finding and fixing his issues. While he struggled Friday at Winston Speedway, it was clear that he found the right combination for Crystal.
Irwin finished the race with a good-sized lead, followed by Dustin Stroup in 2nd, Shawn Valenti in 3rd, Dan McCarron in 4th, and Dain Naida in 5th.
Friday’s winner at Winston Speedway, Stuart Brubaker, was disqualified for the remainder of the show after an on-track incident during the COMP Cams (3rd) heat race. Mark Aldrich, currently 3rd in points, lost ground to the front runners when a flat tire in the B main kept him from advancing to the feature.
The Crystal show added another gold star to the 2016 Engine Pro Sprints On Dirt by ARP season under the new SOD unlimited format on the new Hoosier spec tires. Good car counts, very competitive racing, plenty of side-by-side racing, multiple racing grooves, and very few cautions, mostly due to mechanical issues have been the hallmarks of every show without exception; SOD races have won high praise from competitors and fans alike.
Engine Pro SOD by ARP Feature
|1||0||Steve Irwin||2||Rod End Supply|
|2||1M||Dustin Stroup||3||Rod End Supply|
|3||7||Shawn Valenti||8||Ti22 Draw Winner||Rod End Supply|
|4||22M||Dan McCarron||5||Racing Optics|
|5||17x||Dain Naida||4||ATL Racing Fuel Cells|
|6||4T||Josh Turner||10||King Racing Products|
|9||89||Chris Pobanz||17||KSE Hard Charger|
|11||10S||Jay Steinebach||16||DMI Draw Winner|
|15||24||Eric Smith||14||Engine Pro Lucky Dog|
Engler Machine & Tool Heat Win – Brian Smith
2+, 7, 17x, 4t, 27, 10s, 1a, 91L
Lane Automotive Heat Win – John Gall
81, 1m, 8, 3a, 24, 89, 6, 31
COMP Cams Heat Win – Gregg Dalman
49t, 22m, 0, 41, 46, 27x, 35 (DQ)
B MAIN Win – Jay Steinebach
10s, 89, 27x, 91L, 31
Kistler Racing Products Contingencies – Shawn Valenti, Dan McCarron
BR Motorsports Contingency – Dain Naida
COMP Cams Contingency – Dustin Stroup
Allstar Performance Contingency – Justin Ward
Schoenfeld Headers Contingency – Steve Irwin
For more information about Engine Pro, go to www.enginepro.com. For more information about ARP, go to www.arp-bolts.com. The full 2016 Sprints on Dirt schedule, rules, driver member form, news, and other information can be read at www.sprintsondirt.com.
Engine Pro Sprints On Dirt presented by ARP is brought to you by many important sponsor partners including: Engine Pro (Title Sponsor), ARP (Title Sponsor), Hoosier Racing Tire (Official SOD Tire), MAHLE/Clevite (Beyond Limits Challenge Sponsor), Engine Pro (Lucky Dog Sponsor), Lane Automotive (Primary Heat Race Sponsor), Engler Machine & Tool (Primary Heat Race Sponsor), COMP Cams (Primary Heat Race Sponsor), RockAuto.com (SOD Series Rookie of the Year Sponsor & SOD Sprint Car Rookie of the Year Sponsor), XYZ Machining (Sportsman of the Year Sponsor & Crew Chief of the Year Sponsor), KSE Racing Products (Hard Charger Sponsor). In addition, SOD contingency sponsors include: ATL Racing Fuel Cells, Kistler Racing Products, Allstar Performance, Schoenfeld Headers, K2W Precision/Keizer Aluminum Wheels, Ti22 Performance, BR Motorsports, King Racing Products, License 2 Play, Simpson Racing Products, Rod End Supply, Diversified Machine Inc. (DMI), Racing Optics.