(Chuck Stowe Images)
PETERSEN MEDIA: Bouncing back from a 360 Nationals that saw them come up short of their goal, Cory Eliason and the Van Dyke Motorsports team made some noise with the 410 power plant that culminated in Eliason making his first ever Knoxville Nationals feature event and finishing 17th.
“It is still kind of surreal to me,” Cory Eliason said on qualifying for the Nationals feature event. “It means so much to me, and I can’t thank Harley Van Dyke and his team enough for giving me another shot at Knoxville.”
Kicking the 410ci portion of the week off last Sunday night during the Capitani Classic, the Kingsburg, CA pilot began to open some eyes as he took second in his heat race and then went on to defeat Brian Brown, Sammy Swindell, and Chad Kemenah in match races before coming up short against Greg Hodnett.
Lining the Lucas Oil/Hansen Machine/NAAKE Suspension backed No. 5h up in the fifth starting position, Eliason would go wheel to wheel with some seasoned vets at the famed ½ mile facility as he finished 12th.
Heading to Oskaloosa, IA on Monday for the Front Row Challenge, Eliason would again continue to make people take notice of the Van Dyke Motorsports machine as he would take the green flag from the 20th starting position and work his way up to 12th when the exciting feature event came to a close.
Wednesday night the Van Dyke Motorsports team would get back on track at Knoxville Raceway, and Eliason would admit that they struggled a bit after building up so much momentum.
Getting behind in time trials after timing in 27th quickest, Eliason would slip back and finish sixth in his heat race and be mired deep in the night’s semi. Finishing eighth in the ‘B’, Eliason’s prelim night would be over and the team would begin focusing on Friday night’s “Hard Knox” qualifying night.
Saturday morning tragedy would strike team owner Harley Van Dyke, and with him needing to travel back home, Eliason and company would carry on with heavy hearts.
With emotions running high, Eliason would lay down a great lap in time trials as his sixth quick effort propel him to a third place finish in his heat race, which transferred him into the feature event.
With the top-four finishers in the feature locking into the Saturday night show, Eliason was in prime position as he took the green flag in the fourth starting spot.
Falling back in the early stages of the race, Eliason would go to work on the bottom of the speedway and get by Joey Saldana and Jacob Allen late to move into fourth.
Fending off All Star point leader, Chad Kemenah, in the final laps, Eliason would do California proud as he held on to the fourth spot and solidified his spot in Saturday’s 50-lap feature event.
Rolling off from the 20th starting spot on Saturday night, Eliason would do everything he could to move forward and avoid going a lap down, but once he got lapped he would be stuck in the back of the pack for much of the night, though was able to gain a few positions as he finished in the 17th spot.
“To put it in the show in our second attempt back there is an accomplishment in itself,” Eliason said. “From last year to this year we have made huge gains, and I am looking forward to hopefully getting back to the Nationals in 2018 and trying again. I can’t thank Harley and everyone enough for the opportunity, and I am continuing to send well wishes to him and his family.”
The Van Dyke Motorsports team would like to thank Lucas Oil, Hansen Machine, NAAKE Suspension, Maxim Chassis, and Moyle Racing Engines for their support during the year.
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