In what was a near-perfect day for the 2019 CRA Jr Late Model Series Champion, Chase Burda knocked one off the bucket list Saturday at Birch Run Speedway and Event Center. The Lapeer, Michigan native had been close several times before to winning with the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance and Saturday the puzzle pieces all came together for his first career win.
Burda started the weekend on Friday with optional open practice at Birch Run Speedway as one of the fastest cars on the property. That momentum carried over to Saturday with Burda setting the fastest time in the hour practice session that preluded the night’s races. Then, as the first car on the speedway for qualifying, Burda collected the Allstar Performance qualifying award.
For the start of the Triple Crown Race #1, Michael Simko and Dan Leeck led the field to the green flag. Leeck, the Birch Run native jumped out to the early lead but was quickly slowed on lap three with the first caution flag of the night when James Krueger’s No.01 spun around on the backstretch.
On the restart, Leeck jumped back out to the front of the field and was on cruise control until the next caution on lap 39. Brandon Varney was working on the inside of Simko for the fourth spot when Varney lost the handle on the 61 and spun on his own. This set up the pivotal restart that changed the outcome of the race.
At the choose cone, Leeck took the traditional inside line while second place running Burda chose the top line. Into turn one on the restart, Burda was able to use momentum to his advantage and get a slight edge on Leeck down the backstretch before completing the pass coming to the line on lap 40.
From there, Burda set the pace for the field dealing with two caution flags shortly after taking the lead. The first on lap 43 when Leeck and Kevin Cremonesi made contact racing for the second spot. Leeck’s No.12 made contact with Cremonesi’s No.28 and as Cremonesi slid sideways he came back down the track and clipped Leeck, spinning him back up the hill making slight contact with Simko. The incident would bring the night to an end for Cremonesi, however, Leeck was able to continue after changing two flat tires. On the ensuing restart Varney and Krueger both spun simultaneously in turns three and four with no contact made.
Following what would be the final restart, Burda set sail at the front of the field opening up a several second advantage over Kyle Crump. With 20 laps to go, however, Crump turned up the wick and began tracking down Burda by several tenths-of-a-second per lap. Crump’s efforts though were too little too late and Burda was able to keep pace while going through lapped traffic to grab his first career win with the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance. As Burda celebrated in Victory Lane, the emotion of his first win spilled over.
“I was so worried there,” Burda chuckled. “Lapped cars were everywhere and they were all loose and I didin’t know what to do,” he said. “This is awesome. We’ve been close just haven’t had the luck,” Burda continued.
As Burda was being interviewed in Victory Lane he saw his mom making her way to Victory Lane to celebrate and remembered the special day in store on Sunday.
“Earlier this week, my mom asked what she [was getting] for Mother’s Day and I told her I was going to win, and I did,” exclaimed Burda. “This is awesome!”
Behind Burda, Crump settled for second, Steve Dorer finished third, with Simko and Ethan Stadniczuk finishing fifth.
Now, Burda has the option of going to tail of the field for Triple Crown Race #2 on Saturday, July 1st for a shot at $7,000. Should he take the challenge and win Race #2, he would then have the option of going to tail of Race #3 on September 9th for a chance at $25,000.
The next event for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance is Saturday, June 3rd at Salem Speedway in Salem, Indiana. The freshly repaved historic high bank will host the Tour for the Midwest 100.
For more information on Champion Racing Association, the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour, or the Triple Crown log onto www.CRA-Racing.com. Find CRA: Champion Racing Association on Facebook and follow @CRARacing on Twitter.
Story - Zach Hiser, Champion Racing Association
Photo - Billy Kuyoth