After 2 years of racing at Can-Am Racing Series, encompassing 131 career starts, Rodney “Hot Rod” Haack has been one of the most valued members of the CARS community despite at times not being among the lead group. And for the first time in his career he would be sitting atop the scoring pylon at the end of the Talladega 45!
It sure didnt look that way as the race went on, however. For the first part of the race, as frequent challenger Robert Barney was up front showing the way with just a few laps lead by Chris Cable, Ray Thompson, and Bruce Perry. Haack would sneak up front to lead a lap or two, but mostly it was a front pack of about 5 cars that really showed the way.
The pit stops rolled around, just as Jim Glennan was making noise, roaring from as far back as 9th to 2nd in the space of one lap. He, as well as Greg Netherwood, Bruce Perry, and Barney would dive to pit road together. 3 leaps earlier, Matt Quick and Patrick Hahe took the trip, and as the field cycled around, it was Barney and Netherwood up front by 2 seconds over Hahe and Quick.
But they made up the time quickly (pun intended), and soon it was a 4 truck dog fight between Barney, with Netherwood pushing, and Hahe and Quick. They would swap the lead over and over between the 4 of them for the next 10 laps. Quick, however, made a boo boo, and miscalculated his fuel consumption, and ran out as the leaders took the 2 to go sign.
Hahe, desperately trying to hold on with Barney and Netherwood, would end up slamming Netherwood in the left rear off turn 2, sending both spinning into the inside wall as Barney sped off. Perry, Glennan, defending champion Shane Palenica, Haack and Thompson were all in a pack about 6 seconds back of the leaders when they took the 2 to go, but once Barney was left on his own, it was game on. Barney would hit turn 1 with the pack getting bigger and bigger in his mirror.
They would catch him down the back stretch, and through 3 and 4, the now big pack would dip and dodge 3 wide. Coming off turn 4 onto the front stretch, Palenica thought he was clear and tried moving down from the extreme top. He however, was not, and clipped Perry, sending Perry into the wall and back into Thompson. Glennan barely snuck by, and Barney was just able to slither through.
Rodney Haack however kept the hammer down, and after starting 2 to go running 8th, he would Cole Trickle the wreck and make it through unscathed, crossing the line first for his first career victory in his 132nd start!
Robert Barney would take 2nd, Jim Glennan would get 3rd, Perry salvaged a 4th and Palenica rolled across 5th.