Richard Murtaugh picked off Emmett Waldron on the final lap to win the DIRTcar Sportsman Classic 75 at Weedsport Speedway
After a series of thrilling lead changes, Richard Murtaugh, from Fulton, NY, claimed Weedsport Speedway’s $2,500-to-win Sportsman Classic 75 with a last-lap, photo finish pass.
Seventeen-year-old Emmett Waldron, from Savannah, NY, missed the win of his life by .011 seconds at the line while defending Sportsman Classic winner Cody McPherson hung on to a struggling race car to land in third after a hard-fought 75 laps.
Richard Murtaugh was in the zone. He was so far into the zone that he did not know what lap it was when the checkered flag fell despite winning one of the most exciting DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series races seen at Weedsport Speedway. On the fateful lap, Murtaugh caught Waldron, sidled along next to him, and edged forward by a bumper for the win.
“I thought we had one more lap to go,” said Murtaugh. “Then I saw him waving the checkered and I was going into turn one and saw that I got first. I just couldn’t believe it. It was a huge win.”
Murtaugh started 11th and initially failed to make up ground as the leaders diced it up ahead of him. However, the Brewerton Speedway ace kept working on his car throughout the first half of the Feature. Murtaugh threw the switch on Lap 25 and started moving aggressively towards the front.
“I really kept messing with the brakes more than anything,” noted Murtaugh. “That’s one of the adjustments we have in the cars that I can work with. We didn’t start out too good. I couldn’t really get it sucked to the bottom. I kept playing with the brakes more and more. We get it really good at the end. I was able to put it pretty much anywhere and have drivability. That’s the biggest thing. Brake bias and right front shut off were huge.”
Every photo finish has a disappointed half, but Emmett Waldron has a long future of successful racing ahead of him. Like Murtaugh, Waldron drove to the front after the Lap 25 restart which followed a red flag for an incident in Turn 1 involving Tony Finch II and Tyler Stevenson.
After the restart, everything changed for Waldron as he planted his race car on the top side of the race track and motored his way into the top three. Then he set his sights on leader Ryan Dolbear who also had a tremendous Lap 25 restart to take the lead. After dispatching him it was a battle until the bitter end with Richard Murtaugh.
On Lap 52, Murtaugh passed Waldron in lapped traffic. But on Lap 54, Waldron got a huge run, passed Murtaugh, and cleared two lapped cars for a cushion between them. With only five laps to go, lapped traffic went three-wide just ahead of the leaders. Murtaugh saw the hesitation and took the opportunity to stick his nose under Waldron to win at the line.
Waldron agonized over his decision on the final lap:
“When I was leading, I kept catching lapped cars and catching lapped cars. I might clear this car here. I thought I might be good. Then I caught that bottleneck of cars and I knew it wasn’t good. I thought to go in the middle of the last corner but that didn’t work out. Maybe I should have driven through the lapped car but that’s not how I race. We finished second tonight and we’ll move on.”
Forty-six DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series competitors took on the legendary 3/8-mile for a chance at one of the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series crown jewels, including polesitter Mike Fowler who led until Lap 24. Cody McPherson made a decisive pass just as Fowler’s car had a mechanical issue forcing him to pull off. On the same lap, the red flag incident involving Tony Finch II and Tyler Stevenson occurred which changed the complexion of the race and began the thrilling revolving door of leaders.
For more DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series action, head to Brewerton Speedway on Wednesday, Oct. 4, where the Championship Series enters the next round. Plus, the DIRTcar 358 Modified Series Hurricane Harvey 75 takes center stage.
DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series (75 laps) 1. Richard Murtaugh 2. Emmett Waldron 3. Cody McPherson 4. Matt Janczuk 5. Andrew Buff 6. Ryan Dolbear 7. Kevin Chaffee 8. Cody Manitta 9. Zach Sobotka 10. Jessica Power 11. Nick Root. 12. Zach Buff 13. Brett Senek 14. Tyler Corcoran 15. Brett Sears 16. Nick Heywood 17. Kyle Devendorf 18. Daryl Nutting 19. Jason Bruno 20. Todd Buckwold 21. Kearra Backus 22. Taylor Doxtater 23. Travis Bruno 24. Riley Rogala 25. Tanner Siemons 26. Martin Kelly 27. Gavin Eisele 28. Mike Fowler 29. Tyler Stevenson 30. Tony Finch III