By Ken de la Bastide
A season that started with a couple of mishaps in the Front Wheel Drive Oval Division turned itself around Saturday for Billy Hooten.
Hooten who suffered front-end damage to his car in the first few features scored his first career win at Anderson Speedway, after knocking at the door a week ago.
With an inversion of four for the feature race, Hooten started on the outside of Marshall Clark with Josh Tharp and fast qualifier Jared Kelley in row two.
Clark took the lead at the start but the only yellow flag of the race waved on lap two when JD Blankenship spun in turn two while running fifth.
On the restart Hooten was able to get a run on the outside of Clark and completed the pass on the back straight.
With Hooten and Clark pulling away from the field there was a spirited battle for third involving Austin McKinney, Jerry Swinford, Keller and Josh Tharp.
Swinford spun on lap ten in turn two and ended up parking his car for the night. Tharp slowed dramatically on lap 11, eventually falling several laps down to the leaders.
Hooten scored the win by almost two-seconds over Clark with McKinney, Keller and Blankenship rounding out the top five.
“I just started racing this year,” Hooten said in the Tim Thompson Nationwide Insurance Winner’s Circle on Murat Shrine night. “I’ve had a lot of help putting this car together.”
Tharp won the heat race in the division by passing Hooten on the third lap with an inside move going down the back straight.
Blankenship took the early lead when the top three cars tangled in turn three. Involved was Blankenship, Dylan Hoppes and Clark.
That put Hooten on the point, but his lead didn’t last one lap. Following Tharp and Hooten to the checkers was Swinford, Clark and McKinney.
Keller claimed his sixth quick time during qualifications with a lap at 15.596-seconds, almost two-tenths of a second faster than the time posted by Tharp.