MARKLEYSBURG, Pa. (May 30) — When Friday night’s 40-lap Harbaugh Amusement Appalachian Mountain Speedweek feature at Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex began, Tim McCreadie’s eyes widened. He realized that his favorite groove — the outside groove — was ready for his use.
The driver well known as Topside Timmy proceeded to perch his Sweeteners Plus Rocket machine high on the 3/8-mile oval and rode it to a convincing $4,000 triumph in the opening event of the four-race series.
“They did a real nice job trying to moisture the top a little bit,” McCreadie said of the lane that propelled him to the checkered flag from the ninth starting spot. “The bottom quit throwing crumbs, and you could roll out there (on the outside). I actually wasn’t very good on the bottom, so I’m glad it widened out because who knows what would’ve happened if I had to park it on the bottom all night.”
McCreadie, 40, of Watertown, N.Y., found the top groove almost immediately, vaulting past Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., and Frank Heckenast Jr. of Frankfort, Ill., in one swoop to reach sixth. He then continued his high-side assault, passing Jason Covert of York Haven, Pa., for fifth, D.J. Troutman of Hyndman, Pa., for fourth and Tim Senic of Elkins, W.Va, for third in shot order.
Finally, on lap 10, McCreadie sailed past the smoking car driven by race-long pacesetter Jared Hawkins of Fairmont, W.Va., to assume command for good. The World of Outlaws Late Model Series regular built a straightaway lead on his closest pursuers until some late-race struggles with lapped traffic cut his final victory margin over Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y. — one of McCreadie’s old rivals from the DIRTcar big-block modified ranks — to a more modest half-straightaway.
Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., advanced from the ninth starting spot to place third, 12th-starter Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y. — McCreadie’s Sweeteners Plus Racing teammate — was fourth and Mike Lupfer of Shermansdale, Pa., finished fifth after starting from the pole and running second for much of the race’s first half.
“It’s hard here when you get in traffic,” McCreadie said of the challenge he faced during the event’s closing stages. “Leading is such a big deal — clean track and not dirt in front of you — and when I caught those (slower) guys they just kind of kicked up enough dust that I couldn’t really get off the corners like I was. Everybody raced good — when they saw me they did what they were supposed to do — but it’s just tough to get by ‘em.
“It was just our night.”
The triumph continued McCreadie’s rebound from a frustrating start to the 2014 season as he re-acclimated himself to running Rocket Chassis race cars. He’s heating up on the WoO tour this month with four consecutive top-five finishes, including a win on May 2 at 201 Speedway in Sitka, Ky., and a pair of runner-up placings.
“I appreciate everybody’s help,” said McCreadie, who recorded his third career win in Appalachian Mountain Speedweek competition. “It was a struggle two months ago, but we’ve really hit on something now.”
Fuller, 46, also worked the outside groove to advance forward, but he didn’t find the lane as quickly as McCreadie. He steered his Kennedy Motorsports Capital Race Car past Lupfer for second place with nine laps remaining and never drew close enough to seriously threaten McCreadie.
“Timmy got the top first,” said Fuller. “It was really good up there and you could roll around here. The track was actually was about the best I’ve ever seen it here. I’ve only been here a handful of times, and you could actually run around the outside and the bottom wasn’t so dominant.
“I’m real happy with it,” he added of his bridesmaid finish. “We needed this.”
The 22-year-old Hubbard chased Fuller through the pace to earn a satisfying third-place finish in his father Mike’s MasterSbilt machine, helping him forget his terrible Memorial Day weekend.
“We blew up two motors Friday (May 23) and then we blew up Saturday last week — and then my street car blew up Sunday,” said Hubbard, the 2011 AMS champion. “So we had a really nice week last week.
“But I believe in this car. This car’s been really good…it’s the third race we’ve run it, and I’m confident that if we can just get the rest working right — the driver and the people working on it — we’ll be good.”
Notes: McCreadie’s previous Appalachian Mountain Speedweek victories came in 2012 when he won the tour championship. He scored back-to-back triumphs at Roaring Knob and Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown, Pa. … Hawkins, who started second, pulled up lame with terminal mechanical trouble to draw a caution flag a couple laps after losing the lead. … Senic briefly nosed past Lupfer for second during the race’s first half but faded to an 11th-place finish. … Defending AMS champion Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa., who also won last year’s tour event at Roaring Knob, was lapped by McCreadie with two circuits remaining and finished 20th. … Among the non-qualifiers were AMS championship favorite Rick Eckert (scratched from time trials), Mel Minnick, L.C. Powers, Bob Gordon, Matt Cochran, Rance Garlock, Quintin Wyandt, Click Clise, Kerry King Jr., Jamie Lathroum, Ronnie DeHaven Jr. and Cody Hardesty. … Rick Singleton of Front Royal, Va., won the companion RUSH Crate Late Model feature over teenager Michael Lake of Uniontown, Pa.