If not for a wild flip seven months ago, Bill Burba wouldn’t have been involved in a fantastic finish at Shady Bowl Speedway late Saturday night.
Germantown’s Burba drag raced Greg Stapleton to the checkered flag — edging Stapleton by no more than a bumper — in a finish that left many spectators unsure of who won in the Robbie Dean 94 memorial series.
Seven months ago at Winchester Speedway, Burba was wondering what just happened, too. His modified was racing in a pack and made contact with the outside wall, sending it flying outside of the track.
“It’s on YouTube,” Burba said matter of factly.
Saturday night’s finish should be, too. Burba — who returned to late models after the flip — started on the outside pole next to Bobby Justus. A Who’s Who of area late model racing lined up behind them with Donnie Hill, Don Mahaffey Jr., Nathan Herron, Brandon Oakley, Chad Pendleton, Nathan Herron and others filling the 22-car field.
Justus led the opening laps before smacking the wall just before the half-way mark. Burba inherited the lead and never lost it despite Stapleton’s crowd-pleasing charge through the field.
Starting 10th, Stapleton methodically moved up. He was sixth halfway through. He passed Mahaffey for second with 83 laps completed. He then pulled alongside Burba with nine laps remaining.
“Greg Stapleton, Donny Mahaffey, Donny ‘Zero’ Hill … they’re the game. They’re fast,” Burba said of the loaded field behind him. “Especially being the home track for Greg and Donny, they’re just unbelievable fast up here. You have to be on your game.”
And on the pedal. Stapleton — the defending race winner and overall Robbie Dean series champions last season — surged ahead of Burba coming out of Turn 4 the final lap, but Burba made up the difference at the line.
“I couldn’t see him (at the line), but I was going for the checkered,” Stapleton said when asked if he could tell who crossed first. “That’s all you can do. I was a good three-quarter car lengths back going into turn three. I absolutely used it up coming through three and four. If I got beat I got beat. That’s life.”
Mahaffey Jr., Hill and Oakley finished among the top five. Cody Robinson, Russ Bobb, Dylan Troyer, Jacob Muncy and Matthew Parsons rounded out the top 10.
The Robbie Dean 94 series resumes July 5 at Columbus Motor Speedway. Kil-Kare Speedway hosts the third and final race Aug. 8.