Sunday, May 21, 2023

1978 - Miller Captures ASA Hartford 'Blossom 100'

A happy Butch Miller (standing, far right) is joined by his crew after winning the ASA-sanctioned Strawberry Blossom 100 at Hartford Motor Speedway. – Tom DeVette Photo

Hartford, Mich. (May 21, 1978) – Hometown favorite Butch Miller of nearby Lawton, won his first career American Speed Association race by taking the lead from Ray Young on the 58th lap of the Strawberry Blossom 100 at the Hartford Motor speedway on Sunday afternoon.

Miller, the day’s second fastest qualifier, played a waiting game early on and then made a series of impressive passes at the midway point of the race to score the victory.

Sunday’s feature field was increased to 25 as Mark Martin completed an engine transplant moments before driver introductions.

Fast heat winner, Ed Hoffman started on the pole position for the 100-lapper but Young outgunned him to the first turn and proceeded to lead the first 57 circuits. Meanwhile, Hoffman held second spot with Bob Senneker passing Joe shear for third place on lap 4.

Earlier, Senneker had established a new track record in qualifying with a time of 19.471 seconds, but a faulty fuel pump sent him into the pits after only five laps, ending any chance of victory.

Young continued his strong run by maintaining a comfortable margin over Hoffman, Shear, Dick Trickle, and Miller.

The first yellow flag flew on lap 16 when Gene Christie coasted to a stop at the top of the fourth turn with ignition failure.

Rick Knotts triggered the day’s only spectacular spill as he his engine let go on lap 24 as he entered the third turn. Knotts went over the embankment with fire spurting from the engine compartment. Several other cars spun, and Don Rand followed Knotts off the track and into a cluster of tires. The race was red flagged on lap 34 so Rand’s battered car could be extracted. He was unhurt.

The green flag came out for good on lap 35 and again Young opened up a comfortable lead over Hoffman, Trickle moved by Shear for third on lap 42 followed by Miller and Denny Nyari.

Miller then proceeded to pick off Trickle on lap 52 and Hoffman on lap 55. Three laps later, Miller powered by Young for the top spot.

Trickle would fall off the pace on lap 65 and eventually finish 13th, two laps off the pace. John Anderson, a pre-race favorite, finished 17th after being black-flagged on lap 87 for a fluid leak.

A close race developed for second place in the final 10 laps between Young and Nyari with Young hanging on to take runner-up honors. Nyari settled for third followed by Shear and Ed Howe.

The win for Miller was very popular as he graduated from nearby Benton Harbor High School in 1966 and had run some of his first races at Hartford, some 10 years ago.

Results –

1. Butch Miller, Lawton
2. Ray Young, Dolton, Ill.
3. Denny Nyari, South Bend, Ind.
4. Joe Shear, South Beloit, Ill.
5. Ed Howe, Beaverton
6. Ed Hoffman, Niles, Ill.
7. Johnny Benson, Grand Rapids
8. Dick Anderson, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
9. Mark Martin, Batesville, Ark.
10.Mark Malcuit, Strasburg, Ohio
11.Bob Strait, Flossmoor, Ill.
12.Ed Cooper, Clark Lake
13.Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
14.Randy Sweet, Bremen, Ind.
15.L.J. Lines, Greensboro, Ind.

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