Eddie Hoffman wins 3rd straight Molenaar Memorial at Illiana
By Tony Baranek Post-Tribune correspondent July 8, 2012 11:52PM
Updated: August 10, 2012 6:37AM
SCHERERVILLE — Trailing by several car lengths and the race closing in on the halfway mark, Eddie Hoffman planned on reeling in Mike White and seeing what happened from there in Saturday’s Molenaar Memorial race at the ASA-sanctioned Illiana Speedway.
A yellow flag changed everything.
Hoffman, lined up outside of White for a lap 17 restart, outgunned White down the front straightaway at the drop of the green. He never did pull away, but had enough power to keep White at bay the rest of the way.
It was Hoffman’s third consecutive Molenaar Memorial victory in the race named for the track’s original owners, Harry and Signe Molenaar.
“It’s nice winning three Molenaars in a row,” Hoffman said. “The car was real good. It was about spot on.”
So was White’s No. 14. The five-time Illiana track champion took the lead from John Nutley on lap 12, and was enjoying a several car-length advantage over Hoffman as time began to tick.
“I wanted to try to reel him in, but not use my stuff up so when I got there I would have something for him to try for the pass,” Hoffman said. “But I didn’t have to. The caution put us side by side.”
Hoffman didn’t have any trouble taking the lead on the restart, but he couldn’t shake White either.
“We were real good, but I looked in the mirror and thought, ‘Darn, he’s still there, he’s still there.’ So I knew he was good, and I knew we had to be on, and thank God we were.”
For White, it was a second consecutive strong performance on the heels of a feature win on June 30.
“That’s all we had, man,” White said. “This car was real good. We lost forward bite today. I don’t know if it was track conditions, but I never quite did have the forward bite off.
“(Hoffman) had a little more than me this week. But at least we were able to keep him honest. It was a good race. You can’t ask for more than that.”
D.J. Weltmeyer didn’t have anything for the two top, but was a solid third ahead of Paul Shafer Jr., John Nutley and Danny Darnell.
Bobbie Jean Wall had a career night in the turbo stox class, winning the fast heat and leading the first 22 laps of the feature. But four-time track champion Bill Serviss was able to catch and pass her in traffic just three laps from the finish.
“Bobbie Jean had a great car,” Serviss said. “I really had to drive my butt off to catch her. But this race (Molenaar Memorial) was the last race I got a picture of me and my (late) Mom. I wanted to win this for her. I really drove my heart out to win this race for her.”
Wall stayed with Serviss and finished a career-high second. Eddie Ligue, Jacob McKown, Shawn Wiltjer and Matt Arvia completed the top six.
Defending Legends champion Alex Arelano captured a yellow flag-plagued 20-lap feature.
Arelano took the lead from Jacob Melvin on lap three and paced the field the rest of the way. It wasn’t easy, though. Division points leader Matt O’Leary spent most of the remaining laps either side-by-side with Arelano on restarts, and within a car-length or two on the longer runs.
Coming out of Turn 4 on the final lap, O’Leary got in too hard and spun out. Brian Tedeschi skated by to claim second, ahead of Melvin and Paul Shafer Sr. O’Leary crossed the line in fifth.
Kenny Myer won his first feature of the season in the bandolero division. Multi-winner Stan Zolodz, handicapped by starting one lap down, caught everyone in the field but Myer and finished second ahead of Ashley Ligue. The pure stocks feature was a “second place wins” event, and saw Alex Treptow claim the victory over the first driver across the line, Michael Gerike.