GRAND FORKS — Seemingly out of nowhere, James McFadden ripped the River Cities Speedway cushion and took the lead from David Gravel of Watertown,CT who appeared to be in good shape for his second World of Outlaws’ win at The Bullring.
By Wayne Nelson
“Losing the lead early, I thought my chance of winning was pretty much gone,” said Gravel, after watching McFadden take the lead with 30 laps to go.
But with four laps to to, Gravel made his move out of Turn 4 to slip past McFadden and claim the 40-lap World of Outlaws feature at River Cities Speedway on Friday night before an estimated crowd of 5,000. The victory paid the Connecticut driver $10,000.
Gravel was winless on the WoO circuit all of May, so the win was welcomed. He captured his fifth win of the season and now sits two points behind Brad Sweet for the season points lead.
Handling the changing track conditions was the key to the win.
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“The track was really, really dominant on the top and it got really black,” said Gravel. “The cushion was wet and the black was grippy as well. You couldn’t get off the top. When you did, you were getting passed. You had to run the top and hopefully slide lap cars and get good runs on them.”
Gravel anticipated the track breaking his way in the final laps.
“I was letting James go,” said Gravel after McFadden grabbed the lead. “I figured maybe he would wear his stuff out. I knew lapped traffic was my only chance. The track was getting extremely black in 3 and 4. I searched down there for two laps. It was a little slower but I felt it was coming. Once the track came in down there, the car latched up pretty good.
“I had to run the last two laps as close as i could to rubber and if James was going to pass me he had to go around me. ”
McFadden was seeking his first win at RCS.
“It is what it is, mate,” said McFadden, who is from Australia. “That stuff is going to happen when you race 85 times a year. I feel like we did everything right until that last little bit.
“If you complain about a second place, you’re not looking at the big picture. I really like this track. It’s fun but it’s a tough place to race when the lanes move so much.”
Sweet finished third, followed by Carson Macedo and Logan Schuchart. Macedo posted the fastest qualifying mark at 10.402 seconds.
Donny Schatz, the winningest WoO driver at RCS, finished eighth. Mark Dobmeier was the top local finisher, placing 12th. Austin Pierce captured the hard charger award as he drove from 23rd to 14th.
It was a rough start to the feature with four yellow flags and a red in the first four laps. The red came out when Jordan Graham flipped on the backstretch.
Lance Schill captured the 25-lap NLRA late model feature. He started on the pole but battled Mike Greseth and Brad Seng for the lead.
Seng finished second, followed by Greseth, Joey Pederson and Shane Edginton.
Schill won by 0.638 seconds. The racing between the leaders was intense for a good portion of the feature.
“It was a sold out crowd so you want to go for it,” said Schill.
PHOTO: Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald