Springfield, Ill. (June 15, 1980) – Veteran Ramo Stott of Keokuk, Iowa, made the most of Father’s Day by holding off the late challenges of Butch Hartman to win the United States Auto Club “American 100” late model stock car race at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Sunday afternoon.Stott assumed the lead on the 57th trip around the one-mile dirt oval, overhauling young Rusty Wallace. Until that time, Wallace and Hartman kept a thin, but enthusiastic crowd at the edge of their seats with some close side-by-side action.
Actually, Stott’s day did not start with a flourish, as the former USAC national stock car champion could only maneuver his Camaro to a ninth-fastest qualifying spot. Meanwhile, Hartman broke the track record with a time of 35.73 seconds (110.756 mph), breaking the old record of 37.11 set by Don White in 1967.
Hartman was able to take advantage of a moist surface, which disappeared quickly. In all, 15 drivers timed in under the old mark.
Despite being dry, the surface was in excellent condition, after being treated with liquid chloride all week.
Hartman and Bay Darnell started in the front row as the field of 28 cars took the green, but it was Wallace quickly moving up from his third place stating position to take second and immediately challenge for the lead.
Darnell was having some problems when a water hose gave way and the Lake Bluff, Ill., pilot was forced to pit under green. After a couple of additional laps, Darnell was forced out with a faulty head gasket.
Having passed Darnell before his mechanical problems, third-place Russ Peterson was closing in on the leaders. However, a transmission seal gave up the ghost and Peterson headed for the pits.
After a couple of cautions slowed the action, Wallace continued to lead but Hartman was setting up to move to the front.
The South Zanesville, Ohio shoe took the lead back on lap 28 but Wallace remained close behind. The chase lasted until the 55th circuit when the big hemi in Stave Drake’s Dodge Magnum blew, causing the car to go up in flames as it slowed down on the front straightaway.
Wallace took advantage of the ensuing caution to pit for fuel, but Stott, who had been running in the top-five all day, assumed the lead on lap 57. Herb Shannon of Peoria also moved in between Wallace and the leader, while Hartman was running third.
One more caution slowed the field on lap 74 and when the green flag flew on lap 78, both Wallace and Hartman had designs on closing in on Stott.
Hartman broke away from Wallace with about 20 laps remaining and steadily cut down the split time between himself and the leader. Both Stott and Hartman were running well below the track record as they fought lap after lap.
By the 91st lap, Hartman was right on Stott’s rear bumper, looking for the one break which would put him in the winner’s circle. Stott’s strategy was to stay a bit higher out of the turns while Hartman elected to dive into the corners.
As the two chargers came out of turn four and saw stater Duane Sweeney’s checkered flag, only a front-end spoiler separated the two drivers. At the finish, it was Ramo by barely a nose.
1. Ramo Stott
2. Butch Hartman
3. Rusty Wallace
4. Bob Brevak
5. Dean Roper
6. Don White
7. Sal Tovella
8. Rich Clement
9. Fred Zach