CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — With plans to compete in Pennsylvania during the coming weekend, Speedweek: Reloaded winner James McFadden was unsure of his team’s return to Atomic Speedway for Friday’s Night Before The Knittel.
Suffice it to say, the decision to stay in the Buckeye State proved exciting, as well as valuable.
For the second time in as many nights, McFadden won an Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 feature.
The victory, valued at $5,054 with the ‘54’ honoring the late Dean Knittel’s car number, was accomplished in convincing fashion, eventually driving by Rudeen Racing’s Cory Eliason on lap 16 before escaping to a lengthy command in traffic.
The multi-time World Series of Sprintcars champion now owns four All Star Circuit of Champions victories this season.
Although no match for McFadden during the late stages of the 30-lapper, Cory Eliason chased the Kasey Kahne Racing with Mike Curb entry to the final checkers, followed by Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing super sub Tim Shaffer, Aaron Reutzel and six-time series champion Chad Kemenah.
“Everyone knows the Kasey Kahne Racing guys, as well as the No. 9 cars, are some of the best in the world,” McFadden said. “They really make my job a lot easier. I certainly enjoy driving their car.”
Starting fourth, McFadden gained his first spot in the running order with only one lap knocked off the counter, as outside-pole sitter and lap one leader Reutzel lost his footing in turn two and fell off the edge of the speedway. Although Reutzel was able to quickly regain his momentum, multiple spots were lost, ultimately dropping from first to fourth.
After a caution on lap four, green flag competition returned with McFadden chasing Kemenah and Eliason. Slower traffic entered the picture by lap nine giving McFadden the opportunity to close-in on the lead pair’s advantage.
Just two circuits later, McFadden made a move, this time driving by Kemenah with a slide job through turns three and four.
Unaffected by lappers stacking up two and three wide ahead of him, McFadden remained collective and continued his pursuit of Eliason’s familiar No. 26.
Incidentally, the midpoint of the 30-lap program marked as the turning point for McFadden. Utilizing a near-perfect drive through the first and second corner on lap 16, McFadden exited turn two right on the back bumper of Eliason. Exercising his signature slider yet again, McFadden dove hard into turn three and drove past the Rudeen Racing entry.
Although caution flags would reappear on lap 20, the quick momentum shift proved to be nothing but an advantage for McFadden, using the restart to escape to a near-straightaway margin.
The front-runners did encounter traffic one more time during the final five circuits, but McFadden was on point.
“Things were very similar in the end, maybe a little more slick than last night,” McFadden continued. “We weren’t very far off from where we were last night. Our base package is pretty good right now.”
Feature (30 Laps): 1. 9-James McFadden ; 2. 26-Cory Eliason ; 3. 14-Tim Shaffer ; 4. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 5. K4-Chad Kemenah ; 6. 22C-Cole Duncan ; 7. 11-Dale Blaney ; 8. 70-Brock Zearfoss ; 9. 11N-Buddy Kofoid ; 10. A79-Brandon Wimmer ; 11. W20-Greg Wilson ; 12. 13-Paul McMahan ; 13. O7-Gerard McIntyre ; 14. 9J-Dean Jacobs ; 15. 42-Sye Lynch ; 16. 60-Kory Crabtree ; 17. 4X-Jimmy Stinson ; 18. 21-Brinton Marvel ; 19. 40-George Hobaugh ; 20. 4D-Josh Davis ; 21. J4-John Garvin ; 22. 4-Cap Henry ; 23. 1B-Keith Baxter ; 24. 70X-Justin Peck  Lap Leaders: Aaron Reutzel (1), Cory Eliason (2-15), James McFadden (16-30)