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Hoar, RPM Motorsports Finish 19th in All-American 400

Posted By Tj Ingerson On November 5, 2014

Categories: Regional

Brian Hoar and RPM Motorsports scored a 19th place finish in the historic All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday, November 1. (Barry Cantrell/Short Track Spotlight photo)PHOTO: Brian Hoar and RPM Motorsports scored a 19th place finish in the historic All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday, November 1. (Barry Cantrell/Short Track Spotlight photo)

--by Dan Hodgdon (@Dan_Hodgdon)
VMM Correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --
Brian Hoar and the Rick Paya-led RPM Motorsports team continued their tour of Late Model racing’s crown jewels this past Saturday with a trip to Music City to compete in the All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway.

Hoar had already competed in two of Super Late Models’ big events in the World Crown 300 at Gresham Motorsports Park and the Winchester 400 at Winchester Speedway. Yet, while strong runs at Gresham and Winchester produced top-ten finishes, laps led and near-storybook endings, the All-American 400 did not deliver the same result.

In fact, the team’s glass slipper broke before the ball even really got going. Hoar finished 19th after overheating issues forced him from to retire the event on lap 280, but a lap 24 crash on the frontstretch doomed his chances for the evening.

“You know, I’ve always wanted to run this race and I don’t have any regrets,” Hoar said post-race. “Of course nobody wants to DNF, tear up a car, work this hard and spend this much money to come down here, but that’s racing.”

Seventeen-year-old John Hunter Nemechek, a part-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver and son of NASCAR veteran Joe Nemechek, took home the prestigious guitar trophy in dominating fashion as he led 293 of 300 laps in the main event en route to the victory. A 100-lap last-chance race was won by local hotshoe and occasional NASCAR competitor Willie Allen.

Hoar qualified 18th on Friday evening to lock into the field with a time of 19.237 seconds, despite an issue with timing and scoring that precluded him from getting his second lap time. Still, thanks to meticulous preparation on the part of the RPM team, Hoar was pleased with how well the car performed out of the box on the lightning-fast, high-banked 5/8ths-mile oval. The longtime ACT and NASCAR Busch North Series veteran said it was very much a momentum track and equated it to a big Thunder Road.

Crew chief Paya also had Thunder Road on his mind, as the race was broken into three segments – the first two being 125 laps apiece, followed by a 50-lap green flag dash to the finish. Thus the concept of needing to be good on old tires wasn’t as much of a factor as in other extra-distance races. “I think of this like the Milk Bowl,” Paya said before the race began.

Hoar planned to bide his time and wait for the race to get into a rhythm when the green flag flew, but admitted he was worried about his starting position in the center of the storm. Those fears came to fruition on the frontstretch on lap 24.

Brian HoarHoar was on the inside of Nashville-area driver Stacey Crain when Crain broke loose and made contact with both Hoar’s No. 37 GossCars.com Dodge Charger and the inside wall. The contact was severe enough to end Crain’s night, while Hoar found his car toed out with a knocked-off front end and bent wheel. The accident also caused aerodynamic damage to the front end of Hoar’s car and was forced to pit four times during the yellow for repairs.

Hoar was one lap down following the restart, but in position for the free pass and regained his lap thanks to another quick caution. Still he found himself mired in the mid-30s on track and pitted for additional work during each caution period.

“The guys worked really, really hard, I don’t think I’ve ever pitted that many times in a race and still continued and tried to finish,” Hoar said.

He rode until the first segment break, kept his nose clean, and took advantage of attrition, which included a 10-car pileup in turn one that brought out the red flag on lap 120. At the break, Hoar was in 19th place, but the team had to call an audible on their pit stop. Ten tires were available for the team to use throughout the race, and Paya called to change all four tires with the hope of gaining some track position in the second 125-lap segment.

The call paid off and Hoar, seemingly dead in the water on lap 24, picked his way through to the top-ten by lap 174 and held that position when the second 125-lap segment was complete.

However, while most teams were saving four fresh tires for the last 50 laps, the RPM team was forced to put on new right-side tires only. Hoar was passed quickly by several competitors when the race resumed, but still looked to be in line for a top-15 finish.

By lap 275, however, the car began overheating, and Hoar was forced to pit with water pouring out of the overflow on lap 280, relegating him to a 19th place result out of the 36 cars that started the main event.

Unfortunately, it was one of the team’s own repairs that led to its undoing. The crew was essentially forced to build a front valance panel in an attempt to give the car more downforce, a piece of which came loose and got up in the ductwork, blocking the radiator and finally ending the team’s night just 20 laps from the finish.

The All American 400 differed from the other crown jewel races the RPM team entered this year as it was a Pro Late Model race as opposed to a Super Late Model event. Pro Late Models have crate engine and Hoar said he did feel some distinct similarities in the way the Pro Late Model drive in comparison to his ACT Late Model. A Pro Late Model utilizes a straight-rail chassis, though, and still features the sophisticated suspension and larger tires that one would find on a Super Late Model. In fact, the team used the same car at Nashville that they have been running for Super Late Model races, but changed the power plant and drivetrain components.

“A Super compared to a Pro Late Model is a different setup altogether,” Paya said. “A Pro Late Model has a couple of hundred horsepower less so it takes a different strategy. It’s also a lot different than an ACT car. There’s really no comparison. What we learned in ACT racing on those little eight-inch tires really doesn’t apply to these 10-inch tires. But it has made us a better race team for sure in trying to make the ACT car with the eight-inch tires handle.”

The team will return to the world of Super Late Model racing in early December during the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.

While Hoar was clearly disappointed in the way his All American 400 played out, he still was happy he made the trip. He was especially proud that he got to add his name to the storied list of ACT and northeastern racers who have made the journey south to participate in the famous race at some point in their careers.

“Of the four races on my bucket list this year, this is the one I remember wanting to come to the longest to race for that guitar,” he said. “I said it before and I’ll say it again, it was still an honor to come down and I can always say I ran the All American 400.”

PHOTOS:
1. Brian Hoar and RPM Motorsports scored a 19th place finish in the historic All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday, November 1. (Barry Cantrell/Short Track Spotlight photo)
2. Brian Hoar's RPM Motorsports team works to repair the No. 37 GossCars.com/RPM Racing Engines Dodge Charger following an early race incident in the All-American 400. (Barry Cantrell/Short Track Spotlight photo)