After one of the wildest turn of events seen all year on the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals circuit, Josh Harris pulled off his fourth career victory with the tour in Saturday night’s Hope for Harlie finale at Cedar Ridge Speedway in Morgantown.
Harris marched his way up from ninth to fourth and was riding with a sizable gap to Tyler Nicely as they rounded Turn 4 to complete Lap 26. By the time he reached the exit of Turn 2 on Lap 27, Harris was the race leader.
Friday night’s Hope for Harlie preliminary feature winner Will Krup had led since the drop of the green flag and was battling for the lead with 2020 tour champion Nick Hoffman, deep in lapped traffic. The two frontrunners approached a pack of several slower cars, spread out across all three grooves, with Hoffman on the top and Krup on the bottom.
Coming out of Turn 4 on Lap 26, Hoffman made a dive to the inside to try and get around the pack but hadn’t cleared Krup’s nose and made contact with it going down the front stretch. Hoffman gathered it back in before entering Turn 1, but ended up sliding up the track right in front of Krup, who had switched to the high side.
The ensuing contact sent both drivers around in the middle of Turns 1-2, leaving Nicely barreling through with no place to go as he and another lapped car piled in and made substantial contact.
“Nick went to the bottom there and I crossed lanes to go to the top, he slid from the top and I just had nowhere to go,” Krup said in a news release. “I tried to get on the brakes. Looking at the video, Tyler didn’t have anywhere to go, so he got into me, and it was just all a bang-bang deal, all three of us were out.”
All three leaders were taken out of the race. Nicely left the racing surface on the hook, Krup drove back to the pit area and Hoffman soon followed suit.
“I’d seen Tyler (Nicely) right in front of me,” Harris said in a news release. “I wasn’t really gaining on him and he wasn’t getting away from me. I was hoping we had a caution so we could race it out and see where we were with him, but I wasn’t expecting the caution to be for all three of them.
“We got through that wreck; there were cars going everywhere, it was kinda like a Daytona crash.”
The field went back to green as Danny Schwartz, Jimmy Payne and Gabriel Kirtley now moved into the picture. Try as they may, though, Harris’ Mark Bush Racing Chassis No. 22H was not to be beaten. He led the field the rest of the way home in the 40-lap contest to pick up his first Summit Modified victory of the season and the $3,000 top prize.
“I have lost plenty the way that I won it tonight. Obviously (this is) not the way you want to win it, but you take them any way you can get them,” Harris said in a news release.