Murto: Covert scores feature victory

Jason Covert grabbed the win last weekend at Hagerstown Speedway, taking the lead from Glenn Elliot with 10 laps to go in the 25-lap Late Model feature.

“The plans are to come back next week for the $8,000 and hopefully we’ll be standing here too, but it’s a different night and we might be on the truck,” Covert said in a track news release. “There’s a lot of good cars around here and when you win at Hagerstown, you’ve accomplished something.”

Covert had to hold off Jason Miller at the end, and only won by .9 seconds.

There were 40 Late Models in the pits, and Hagerstown started 28 of them. Elliott wasted no time going from fourth starting spot into the lead on the opening lap and checked out from pole sitter Brad Ritter and sixth starting Covert.

It appeared that Elliot could run away, as he had more than a three-second lead when Covert got under Ritter on the fifth lap and began to shrink the lead.

When Elliott arrived at the back of the field on the 11th lap, Covert closed quickly and was on Elliott’s bumper within two laps, and two laps later grabbed the top spot.

Covert took off after a couple minor cautions as Jason Miller quickly charged into the runner-up spot over Rick Eckert, Jerry Bard and J.T. Spence while Keith Jackson came from 19th to end sixth. Jamie Lathroum was seventh with Kenny Moreland, Dan Stone and D.J. Troutman completing the top 10.

“Being buried in our heat race and being able to get up through there probably made the feature a little bit easier,” Covert said. “The car was fantastic. I couldn’t ask for a better team.”

Friday gates open at Hagerstown at 5:30 p.m. for “Ernie D’s Fall Bash on Dirt,” which includes Late Models and Late Model Sportsman, Pure Stocks, Hobby Stocks, Four Cylinders, and Rookie Cars (Small Car Nationals for last four classes). Saturday the gates open at 4 p.m. as the Fall Bash concludes.

The latest news, results, photos, schedule or rule changes can found be on the speedway’s website www.hagerstownspeedway.com. Also check the website for any changes in in weather conditions that may delay or cancel the program or contact the speedway office at 301-582-0640.

Of course, if you want to travel a few more hours down the road and see stock cars on pavement, there are still tickets available for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville. Visit www.martinsvillespeedway.com for information.

Last week’s race at Talladega left some stout competitors eliminated from the Chase. Defending champion Jimmie Johnson is out, as is early point leader Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Kyle Bush. Busch was playing it safe, had an accident missed and got hit from behind by Austin Dillon. He proved that you can drive your car, but you can’t control how other racers drive theirs.

Martinsville should prove interesting because unlike Talladega, you can get paybacks at Martinsville and not injure anybody or wreck half the field in the process. Expect that a lot of sheet metal will be torn up and a lot of tempers frayed by the time 500 laps around the half-mile, paperclip-shaped track are finished.

Many thought Brad Keselowski was finished heading into Talladega. But instead of accepting defeat, he raced his tail off and won the race, earning his way into the next round of competition.

And even better than that, the first thing he did in victory lane was man-up to his actions the week before at Charlotte, when he used his car as weapon on pit road. He apologized and said they were actions of which he was not proud.

He’s going to have his detractors — and they’re going to hate reading this — but Brad Keselowski seems to want this championship more than any of the other drivers on the track. He digs deep and is capable of some gutsy, skilled driving when needed. He may be brash and run his mouth a bit much sometimes, but he admits his mistakes and moves on.

Martinsville may not be the best place for Keselowski, but he’s going to be tough when the series gets to Texas. In fact, the Penske cars have been so strong this year that it won’t be a surprise if both Penske cars of Keselowski and Joey Logano are in the final four come the last race at Homestead.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.