Monday, August 14, 2023

1982 – Ruttman Easy Winner in Toledo 200

Joe Ruttman drove Junior Hanley’s Firebird to victory at Toledo.

Toledo, Ohio (August 14, 1982) – The teaming of Junior Hanley’s perfectly dialed-in Pontiac Firebird and hard-charging Joe Ruttman was the undoing of the American Speed Association series regulars at Toledo Speedway, Saturday night, as the awesome combination forged a convincing victory in the 200-lapper.

Veteran Bob Senneker made the best run at Ruttman after Mike Eddy experienced a rare DNF, but it wasn’t enough as he trailed Ruttman by 4.8-seconds at the finish. Alan Kulwicki was third, the only other car on the lead lap.

Recuperating from an illness, Hanley elected to put Ruttman in hiss machine for the contest as the Californian had the weekend off from the NASCAR Grand National tour.

“The car was dialed so perfectly,” Ruttman said after the race, “that a mediocre driver would’ve looked like a hero.”

The former Detroit-area driver and veteran of many competitive miles on the tricky half-mile Toledo layout was anything but mediocre, setting a new 200-lap track record of 96.924 miles per hour in winning his only ASA start of the year and the second series win of his career.

Eddy led the first 22 circuits from his pole starting position but Ruttman showed early superiority in heavy traffic, as he took the lead on lap 23 by needle-threading past the defending ASA champion.

The only caution of the race came on lap 103 when Terry Senneker spun spectacularly down the main stretch, hitting an infield barrier in a cloud of tire smoke.

The yellow flag brought a massive assault on the pits, with everyone in for service and Eddy out the quickest to grab the lead on lap 111.

Two laps later, Eddy was lapping Ken Adams as their cars got together at top speed on the backstretch, with Eddy recovering swiftly, but Ruttman flashing by to regain the lead again.

Eddy’s mount seemed no worse for wear after the shunt but his engine sputtered at lap 128 and he was forced to retire, letting Senneker take up pursuit of a streaking Ruttman.

The former Dearborn, Mich., resident gave a clinic for the rest of the race, keeping Senneker over four seconds behind and nearly lapping Kulwicki when the checkered flag waved.

A lap back at the finish, but flailing mightily, was Bob Strait in fourth and visiting NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip in fifth.

Ruttman collected $3,270 from a $30,475 purse before a good-weather crowd of 5,692.

Results –

1. Joe Ruttman
2. Bob Senneker
3. Alan Kulwicki
4. Bob Strait
5. Darrell Waltrip
6. Dick Trickle
7. John Knaus
8. Butch Miller
9. Harold Fair
10.Billy Kuhn

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