RICHMOND, Ky. (June 25) — Zack Dohm wasn’t impressed with his first trip to Richmond Raceway. His second, however, was much more memorable.
Deciding to return to the oval for Saturday night’s 12th annual Iron-Man Classic co-sanctioned by the Southern Nationals Bonus Series and Iron-Man Mountain Championship Series, the 27-year-old driver from Cross Lanes, W.Va., emerged victorious in an eventful, rough-and-tumble 60-lap feature to earn a career-high $10,050 first-place check.
“The racetrack, I’ve been here once (before), and honestly, I said I wouldn’t come back because I couldn’t pass,” said Dohm, the son of Mountaineer State Dirt Late Model veteran Tim Dohm. “And tonight, I passed.”
Indeed, Dohm advanced from the 13th starting spot in his family-owned No. 115, a 2011-vintage MasterSbilt that is normally driven by his younger brother Nick but carried Zack’s open-competition Vic Hill-built engine for Richmond’s special show. He avoided some wild mid-race action at the front of the pack and a near-disaster of his own — a late-race scrape with Duane Chamberlain of Richmond, Ind., while battling for second that momentarily pointed Dohm toward the turn-one wall — to pass Donald McIntosh of Dawsonville, Ga., for the lead on lap 46 and march off to the biggest triumph of his young career.
Veteran Greg Johnson of Bedford, Ind., grabbed second from McIntosh on lap 55 and finished in the runner-up spot, a half-straightaway behind Dohm. McIntosh settled for a third-place finish after leading laps 33-45, while Jackie Boggs of Grayson, Ky., and Jason Jameson of Lawrenceburg, Ind., recovered from a lap-32 tangle that forced both drivers to the rear of the field to finish fourth and fifth, respectively.
Boggs, who led laps 1-9 and regained the position on lap 18 when Michael Chilton of Salvisa, Ky., slowed with left-front suspension damage from contact with a slower car and an inside uke tire, engaged in a heated tussle for the top spot with Jameson at the race’s halfway point. The two hard-nosed drivers traded slide jobs at each end of the track before coming together in turn one on lap 32 when Jameson dived to the inside, causing Jameson to spin around to the outside of the speedway and absorb a blow in his car’s right side from the passing Scott James of Bright, Ind.
With Boggs, who had to pit for repairs, and Jameson, who expressed displeasure with Boggs during the caution period, relegated to the back of the pack for the restart, McIntosh assumed command. He set the pace until Dohm ran him down and used the inside lane to snatch the top spot for good on lap 46.
An emotional Dohm was at a loss for words after emerging from his car in victory lane.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Dohm said. “Racing in front of these many people is awesome. I mean, these people don’t even know who I am, but it seemed like they were cheering and having a good time. You normally don’t get to race in front of people like this. It’s pretty sweet.”
Dohm attributed his success to a combination of good fortune and late-race speed.
“I got handed a lot of spots because of the tire issues (of other drivers),” Dohm said. “If that wouldn’t have happened, I don’t know if I’d be here. But the car was good and I was able to take advantage of what was given to me and luckily we brought home a win.
“The racetrack was great. Once it got black, pretty wide around through there, you could run all over.
“Honestly, I looked up and seen Donald was running second (early in the race) and I knew he started beside me, and I was like, ‘My God, I’m horrible,’” he added. “And then I don’t know. It just took off on that last restart. I made sure to get (the tires) hot and clean ‘em up and started going.”
Dohm gave the credit for his triumph to his father Tim, who wasn’t on hand for the event.
“My dad’s the one who foots the bill for all this,” Dohm said. “I wish he could be here.”
Johnson, meanwhile, got his Jesse Puckett-owned Club 29 Race Car rolling near the end of the feature to secure a solid second-place finish.
“We had a good car,” said Johnson, who started sixth but had to pit for a tire change during the race. “We were just kind of biding our time there. Early on I wasn’t very good. My tires sealed over a couple of times. I hadn’t been on hard tires all year and I learned what to do to my tire before the restart to get it to go.”
McIntosh was disappointed to have the race slip through his fingers, but he was nonetheless upbeat about his third-place run in the Blount Motorsports Rocket machine.
“Obviously when you get the lead, that’s a pumper,” McIntosh said. “We had a good car and made some changes we’ve never made before just trying some things, knowing we were starting so far back. We learning some things.
“Good job to this 115 bunch, they did a good job. Maybe next time I’ll be able to qualify a little better … I was just out of sorts qualifying. But what a night to pass 11 cars. It was good for us.”