With just under 50 laps remaining in the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series 68th annual Race of Champions 250 last Saturday at Lake Erie Speedway, two Niagara County based teams, Hossfeld Racing and DeLange Racing had their hearts pumping with visions of victory.
Both secured very respectable finishes when the checkered flag waved a few minutes later.
Chuck Hossfeld, of Ransomville, placed second Saturday after nearly beating race winner Matt Hirschman for the Victory Lane honors.
For the two-car, Lockport based DeLange Racing team and their husband/wife co-owners Dave and Laura DeLange, drivers Jack Ely and Eric Beers where both running in the top five in the late stages of Saturday's race.
They would settle for their best combined Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series finishes of the season when Ely and Beers placed fifth and seventh,respectively.
Beers hails from Northampton, Pa., where the DeLange cars, transporters and equipment are housed. Ely is from Wall Township, N.J.
With his finish, Hossfeld also secured the 2018 Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series season point title. Hossfeld clinched the championship when Andy Jankowiak retired during Saturday's race with mechanical ills.
"We worked really hard on the car this past week and we got it much better," Hossfeld said. "The guys did a great job. I'm proud to win this championship. I feel bad for Andy. I don't know if he missed a shift but his car blew up. We were able to finish second in the race tonight. In the end, I'm proud of my team. We had a long summer. We didn't have the best car all the time but it was really important to me to compete for the championship and to win it just makes me feel good."
Hossfeld's championship run included many qualifying bonus points for qualifying quickest at many of the Race of Champions events in 2018.
"Without our qualifying efforts I wouldn't be champion," Hossfeld said. "That's how the rules are set up. If you qualify well, which we did all year, it pays off. I had some personal stuff go on in my life this summer so this all again makes me feel really good."
DeLange camp pleased
The DeLanges are veteran owners who have fielded asphalt Modified entries for many years, including the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour through 2012 and in recent years the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series.
"My heart was pumping with excitement when we had both cars in the top five late in the race Saturday at Lake Erie," Dave DeLange said. "It was actually the best race of the year for both our cars at that point."
Ely's fifth place outing Saturday was his season high Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series result. Beers best efforts in 2018 were a pair of fifths, one at Chemung Speedway, Aug. 4 and Lancaster Speedway, Aug. 18.
"In the biggest race of the year last Saturday it was just a pleasure to see both our guys do so well," Dave DeLange said.
Beers has driven for DeLange Racing since 2009 and Ely joined, later a few seasons ago.
"The competition is very good in the ROC series," Dave DeLange said. "You've got at least 10 drivers who can win a feature at any time. Our goal all along always has been to run against the best possible. We returned to the ROC mainly because of the new management. Joe Skotnicki (Race of Champions director) has done a wonderful job of bringing that tour back to the way it should be. It triggered our move back.
"Things in the ROC are run efficiently, professionally. It's a good atmosphere. Joe insists on drivers driving with respect for each other and that means a lot. To me it's on par with the NASCAR tour. With Laura and I it's a family effort."
The DeLange team has committed to run the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series in 2019, returning with Beers and Ely.
Hirschman sets mark
When Hirschman, also of Northampton, Pa., won the Race of Champions 250 last Saturday he broke a tie for the all-time win total he enjoyed in this event with the late Donald "Dutch" Hoag. Hirschman won the Race of Champions 250 for the sixth time in his career breaking the tie of five he held with Hoag.
"It's incredible," Hirschman said. "That feeling never changes when you win this race whether it's the first time or the sixth time. We're now a part of big history."
Other race victors at Lake Erie this past weekend; Jeremy Haudricourt, ROC Sportsman; Tommy Krawczyk, ROC Super Stocks; Rich Sharpe, Street Stocks; Jimmy Pierce Jr., ROC 4-Cylinders; Sam Fullone, ROC Late Models.
ROC champions for 2018; Scott Wylie, ROC Sportsman; Joe Mancuso, ROC Super Stocks; Travis Montgomery, ROC 4-Cylinders; Eldon King III, ROC Late Models.