By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
After a brutal crash at Talladega Superspeedway three weeks ago, Chase Purdy rebounded with a career-best finish at Toledo Speedway. The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards driver was still nursing a bulged disk in his back while competing in the Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care at the 0.500-mile oval.
Purdy was in second in his No. 8 Bama Buggies Toyota Camry on the final restart. He ran hard, taking the lead from his teammate, Zane Smith. The duo did their best to navigate through the heavy lap traffic as just three cars were on the lead lap with 23 laps to go. While attempting to put another lap on Mike Basham with under 10 laps to go, Purdy was forced to yield, giving Smith the opportunity to make take the lead. Smith, who had dominated the day, went on to score the victory.
“I have to thank all the guys from MDM, Bama Buggies, everybody that’s worked on the car today,” Purdy said. “We had a new crew chief for the car today, Mark McFarland. God, he had me hooked up. These General Tires were on point. That was fun. Zane and I were sitting there with 20 to go, and I knew I had to beat him on the outside. I did just that, and then I got caught up in traffic. It’s all about how you play those lap cars sometimes. With about 7 or 8 to go, he got by me with those lap cars, and we were too even. With us even, spread out by five car lengths, there was no way I could catch him, unless he caught traffic again.”
Throughout the race, Purdy was one of a handful of drivers that was able to keep their nose clean. Tire wear proved to be the biggest issue of the day. Chandler Smith, Natalie Decker, and Sheldon Creed all lost laps late in the race after their right front tires went down. It wasn’t until Creed’s flat tire turned into a more catastrophic failure with debris scattered on track as well as pit road that the final caution of the day waved.
The second-place finish was just the second top-five and fifth top-10 finish in Purdy’s ARCA career. It was also the second 1-2 finish for MDM Motorsports this season as the team finished 1-2-3 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville earlier this year.
“We come to the track every weekend, and you feel like your biggest competitor is your teammate,” Purdy explained. “I really think that’s shown this year. I haven’t had the luck to be in this position just yet. Today was our first day to be in a winning spot. I feel like we could really capitalize. We haven’t had the luck at Daytona or Talladega. We’ll take this, move on forward, and get one spot better Thursday.”
Now Purdy and his MDM Motorsports team will prepare for ARCA’s return to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday, May 24.