Times Sports Editor
TERRE HAUTE -- Don't tell California youngster Cole Whitt that the temperatures in Terre Haute on Saturday weren't a bit chilly. But the memories of what he accomplished at the Terre Haute Action Track in the 57th running of the Hut Hundred on Saturday will keep him warm for years to come.
Whitt started alongside the evening's fast qualifier, Brad Sweet, and led the first 45 laps in his Red Bull, MMI Bullet, Esslinger Ford and then the final 22 circuits to claim the win.
Shane Cottle, piloting a car for Tony Stewart racing, was involved in a crash on the first lap and was forced to the pits to replace a front axle. His crew, working feverishly, was able to get him back on the track before the restart and he took full advantage of the team's diligence.
On a lap 42 restart, Cottle rocketed by Whitt on the outside and began to build his own comfortable margin. Hagen and Bacon produced a side-by-side battle for the third position as Levi Jones joined the fray near the midpoint of the 100-lap event. Jerry Coons Jr. advanced up to fifth with Bobby East challenging for the position ahead of Sweet.
The caution came out again with 37 laps remaining to get Whitt back within striking distance of Cottle with Bacon in third followed by Coons and East.
As the green flew, Whitt jumped all over Cottle, but had both Coons and Bacon right on his tail tank heading into the competition red flag with 25 laps to go.
Crews were allowed to make changes to the car except for changing tires during the break.
Whitt's crew apparently made just the right adjustments as the Alpine native zipped by Cottle just a couple of laps into the final sprint. Bacon briefly got by Cottle to challenge Whitt for several circuits, but slipped back in the field to eighth after some problems with under 10 laps left.
Whitt survived a couple of cautions over the final laps to hold off Cottle for the prestigious win. Sweet took third ahead of series points leader Tracy Hines, East, Dustin Morgan, Hagen, Coons, Chase Barber and Kody Swanson.
Hines holds the USAC Midget points lead over Whitt, 1,113 to 1,047 with Sweet in third with 982 points.
Jason Leffler, a former Hut Hundred winner, was collected in the opening lap crash, but bounced back to place 11th ahead of Chad Boat, Brad Loyet, Dakoda Armstrong and Brad Kuhn.
In the Monster Modified Classic presented by Monster Energy Drink, Brad Barrow was the recipient of a little luck in the 20-lap main event that was shortened by 10 laps due to time constraints.
Tim Hancock appeared to be the class of the field, pulling out to an early advantage before being caught by Wolfpack Challenge points' leader Nick Allen and Barrow.
The battle for second was tight as a rough track began to claim several casualties.
Hancock was able to maintain his lead into the second half of the race as Rob Fuqua came firing through the field and into the mix for second-place.
Meanwhile, Ray Humphrey, who was forced to start from the 26th and final starting position after advancing through one of two B-Mains, had reached seventh-place.
Fuqua wasn't going to settle for a top-three, he jumped into an all out war with Hancock up front with nine laps remaining. Kenny Carmichael Sr. climbed into a top-six spot before disaster struck the leaders.
Fuqua suffered a broken ball joint that ended his night in turn four, but shortly afterwards, Hancock was forced to the pits with five laps to go in the feature that was becoming a battle of attrition.
Barrow wasn't arguing. He stood on the throttle and was just able to hold off the rocketing Humphrey, who gave the crowd everything they could ask for in a runner-up spot. Barrow claimed the $2,000 win in the Franklin-built machine powered by a Reliable Race Engine. Bob Pohlman Jr. crossed in fourth ahead of Carmichael and Scott Martin. Allen took sixth ahead of Clint DeMoss, Mark Auler in a strong run placed eighth, Doug Vinnedge was ninth with Brian Shaw rounding out the top-10.
Allen claimed the WolfPack Challenge series points title with his finish on Saturday.
57th Hut Hundred presented by First Financial Bank and Dorsett Mitsubishi
1. Cole Whitt, 2. Shane Cottle, 3. Brad Sweet, 4. Tracy Hines, 5. Bobby East, 6. Dustin Morgan, 7. Darren Hagen, 8. Jerry Coons Jr., 9. Chase Barber, 10. Kody Swanson, 11. Ricky Ehrgott, 12. Davey Ray, 13. Dakoda Armstrong, 14. Brady Bacon, 15. Brad Kuhn, 16. Joe Liguori, 17. Levi Jones, 18. Brad Loyet, 19. Cole Carter, 20. Chad Boat, 21. Jason Leffler, 22. Justin Grosz. NT
Monster Modified Classic
1. Brad Barrow, 2. Ray Humphrey, 3. Bob Pohlman Jr., 4. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 5. Scott Martin, 6. Nick Allen, 7. Clint DeMoss, 8. Mark Auler, 9. Doug Vinnedge, 10. Brian Shaw, 11. Phil VanSant, 12. Tim Hancock, 13. Jamey Henson, 14. Rodney Harris Jr., 15. Rob Fuqua, 16. Marty O'Neal, 17. Curt Rhoades, 18. Kevin Hastings, 19. Don Kiger, 20. Dave Baldwin, 21. Chad Evans, 22. David Shain, 23. Matt Huddleston, 24. Craig Conyer, 25. Wes McClara, 26. Roger Mills