INDIANAPOLIS — Ben Tunny captured his fourth career World Figure-8 Championship Saturday night during the 45th annual event presented by Gladiator Roofing and Restoration at the Tom Wood Group Indianapolis Speedrome powered by Lincoln Tech.
It was Tunny’s first victory in the event since 2015. His effort was worth $20,000.
With just under 45 minutes left in the late model figure-8 three-hour endurance race, it was shaping up to be provide a thrilling finish.
The cars of Jeff Harmon, Austin Tunny, Mark Tunny and Jesse Tunny were running nose-to-tail, and all were on the lead lap as time was winding down. Over the next 40 minutes, misfortune would eliminate each of these contenders except for Ben Tunny.
Jeff Harmon would surrender the lead to Austin Tunny with just under 45 minutes remaining. It appeared Austin would be a force to be reckoned with in the closing minutes.
With 29 minutes reaming, Austin surrendered the lead to Ben Tunny entering heavy traffic in turn three. Austin then spun the car exiting turn four, loosing valuable track position. Austin would retire to the pits shortly thereafter.
Ben Tunny then assumed the lead with Mark Tunny stuck to his bumper. The duo worked heavy lapped traffic with Mark looking for any advantage he could find to steal the lead. Ben was working lapped traffic impressively, leaving Mark to opportunities to seize the lead. It appeared the race would come down to these two as they were the only cars left on the lead lap.
With just under 20 minutes left, Mark Tunny retried to the infield in turn one with apparent mechanical issues. Ben Tunny would soldier on uncontested the final 20 minutes of the race for the victory.
With just a handful of seconds in the event left, second-place Matt Smith made contact with a lapped car at the cross over and wound up settling on top of the lapped car just as the checkered flag flew. Smith held on for second in spectacular fashion. Smith started 21st and put on an impressive drive to claim the runner-up spot.
Rounding out the top five were Jesse Tunny, R.J. Norton III and Mike Riddle Jr.
“I still thought he was close by until I saw him parked in the infield,” Ben Tunny said. “I was still going hard. At that point I knew I had a pretty good cushion over Jeff (Harmon), but I wasn’t sure because there was a lot going on, and I didn’t get a good look at the scoreboard. I was catching Harmon and I was about to lap him again. I figured I was in a good position because time was winding down. I just knew I dint need to mess up.
“I’ve been craving a win like this for so long. It feels good. The ending wasn’t what I would have liked because these guys having trouble.”
Smith detailed his exciting finish in the closing seconds.
“With 11 seconds left, I was coming off the corner and was battling for position,” Smith explained. “I come up on a lapped car. At the last second, we both checked up and I became Grave Digger. We still got second.”
For those who were unable to attend the event the entire race replay is available on demand at speedrome.tv.
Ben Tunny, Matt Smith, Jesse Tunny, R.J. Norton III, Mike Riddle Jr., Jeff Harmon, Buddy Vertrees, Doug Greig, Tommy St. John, Chris Curtis, Doodle Farris, Mark Tunny, Brandon White, Austin Tunny, Craig VandeWettering, Chad Sizemore, Shawn Senokossoff, Steve Durham, Doug Riddle, Troy Hughes, Jeffrey Shackelford, Scott Apperson, Richie Arthur, Mike Hadley Jr., Ricky Puckett, Nigel Peters, Pete Bear IV, Jeff Swinford, Bobby Whitaker, Artie Ware, Dennis Sloan, Jeremy Vanderhoof, Eddie VanMeter, Donnie Murphy II, Cory Harmon, Charlie Hargraves, Jeff Smith, Michael Cherry, Seth Nistok, Brayton Laster, Donnie Garrigus III, Steve Frost, Donnie Sloan, Tim Logue, Calvin Crain.