White flag. Nick Hoffman with a near two-second lead. And suddenly, the car shut off.
The four-time and defending champion appeared to be on his way to a dominating eighth DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals victory of the season Saturday night when his NOS Energy Drink #2 lost power going down the backstretch coming to the checkers and brought out caution.
Under yellow, now coasted past the start/finish line, his lifeless car was pushed back to the pit area, surrendering the lead to second-place Lucas Lee before a green-white-checkered restart to settle the race.
Lee took off at the drop of the green and brought it home for his fifth career Summit Modified victory in the St. Louis Firecracker Faceoff finale at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55.
“When he slowed down, I thought he thought the checkered flag came out, and I thought, ‘Dude, we’ve got another lap,’” Lee said.
“I hate to win like that, but I was the next-fastest car.”
Back in the pits, a broken camshaft was the diagnosis from the Hoffman crew.
“I’ve had one break before, but I wasn’t racing; I was under caution, and it just shuts off,” Hoffman said. “First thing that went to my mind, it just shut off. It didn’t shake, it didn’t flutter, it doesn’t do anything. You just lose all ignition, basically.
“If it would’ve just made it to Turn 3, I probably would’ve made it back around and still won the race. It just wasn’t meant to be this weekend.”
Lee, of Paris, TN, had chances earlier in the race to gain on Hoffman and give him a run, but got held-up by traffic.
“He got pinned behind that lapped car and I started catching him,” Lee said. “I really got in there, and then he finally cleared that lapped car. Then, I got stuck behind him, but I felt like was there. “
Hoffman was beaten on-track Friday night by Rick Conoyer and Will Krup, when Hoffman said things just didn’t feel right with the car. He clearly had those issues worked out by Saturday, dominating the first 24 laps of the Feature, unchallenged.
“I think you’ve seen [the I-55 track surface change] a lot with the Late Model guys; they had to change their programs up too,” Hoffman said. “I talked to a lot of them guys to figure out which direction they were headed, and it was exactly the direction I wanted to go.”
The Summit Modifieds get two days off before returning to action on Tuesday, June 28, at the revitalized Red Hill Raceway in Sumner, IL. If you can’t be at the track, watch it live on DIRTVision.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)
Feature 25 Laps | 00:15:58.764
- 12L-Lucas Lee; 2. 18L-Michael Long; 3. 36-Kenny Wallace; 4. 25-Tyler Nicely; 5. 05-Dave Wietholder; 6. 14C-Rick Conoyer; 7. 8-Kyle Steffens; 8. 1D-Dean Hoffman; 9. 23-Dylan Sharp; 10. 4T-Jake Trebilcock; 11. 130-Chase Allen; 12. 1A-Steve Meyer Jr; 13. 19-Trey Harris; 14. 19C-Jimmy Cummins; 15. 88-Chris Bolyard; 16. 2-Nick Hoffman; 17. 7-Tim Nash; 18. J82-Treb Jacoby; 19. 88T-Cody Thornhill; 20. K9-Will Krup; 21. 24D-Jesse Dill; 22. 59R-Jacob Rexing