Entering the fifth race of the Amsoil NELCAR Legends Tour season, the last four races had produced four different winners. The pack has been getting tighter and tighter and that was never so evident as it was on the 1.6-mile road course at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
While the normal cast of characters, Shaun Buffington, Evan Beaulieu and Matt Bourgoine fought for the lead for much of the race, it was the young sophomore driver Reid Lanpher who was able to take the lead late and pick up his first ever Legends Car win. The 24 Legends car field took to the track in what was going to become one of the wildest races of the season.
It all started per usual in qualifying, where Buffington was the fastest in the field. Bourgoine was able to get the second fastest lap and therefore would start on the outside of the front row. On the start, Buffington was able to get the jump and the lead into turn one, with Bourgoine and Beaulieu right behind. Those three got away from the rest of the field for a bit as they ran each other hard for the race lead. Just as a battle was setting up once again for Beaulieu and Buffington for the lead, the races first yellow came out for Nick Ladyga finding the tire pile in turn three.
After this first caution, business began to pick up for the final five laps. As Buffington and Beaulieu came down through the first set of corners side-by-side, bouncing off of one of another, Beaulieu was able to wrestle the race lead away in turn three. It wasn't over, however, as Bourgoine was right behind to take second. The next lap, contact between the two leaders sent Beaulieu into a spin, and created a melee behind them as a few cars got wrecked in the blocked racetrack.
Beaulieu was able to hold the lead, however, as he just did a self spin and was able to continue on. That meant that as the race went back to the last completed lap, he was scored as the race leader with Bourgoine on the outside. The two got the green once again, and Beaulieu was able to grab the lead as Lanpher fought his way into second spot.
With two laps to go, the final caution of the race came out, as rookie TJ Bleau spun into the tire pile in turn ten. That would set up a green white checkered where this time, Lanpher was lined up to the outside of Beaulieu. The two drove it hard into turn one, but Lanpher was able to grab the lead. Beaulieu stayed right behind and tried to give one last good run, but it wasn't enough as Lanpher took his first Legends Car win. Beaulieu was second with Buffington third. Bourgoine was fourth, while Nick Ladyga rounded out the top five.
Lanpher has enjoying a lot of success in the races he is old enough to compete in this season, as he has had solid finish after solid finish and the pit area knew that his first victory must right around the corner. With the win, he wrote his name in the record book as the youngest winner in NELCAR.
After five races now, there have been five different winners on the Tour. Will we see winner number six next weekend when the cars return to NHMS for the first 2012 oval race at the track? It will be an interesting race for sure.
Racing is set to start around 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 19th. You won't want to miss it as this season has proven to be one of the most competitive with a new driver up front each week. For more info, news and how you can get into a Legends Car, please visit Nelcar.net.