BOONE, Iowa — Brian Blessington is hoping to give himself a very special birthday present later this week.
Blessington, who turns 57 on Sept. 10, is attempting to qualify for his 15th IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals fueled by Casey’s main event at Boone Speedway. If all goes right,
Blessington would like to end the week with his second championship in the IMCA stock car division.
The native of Breda, Iowa, has been racing for nearly 30 years and has earned more than 200 victories and claimed 27 track championships between 1994 and 2008. However, he still considers his 2001 Super Nationals victory one of his crowning achievements.
“It still today means a lot to me,” Blessington said as he recalled his 2001 Super Nationals victory. “When I look back, that’s probably one of my biggest achievements. Even when I look back at it now, I can’t even really believe I did that.
“At that time, I was what I call in my prime,” Blessington continued. “We did win a lot of races and stuff, but you can be really good and not even make it in the show at Super Nationals. So to make it through all those steps … to get through the qualifier and then get to the big race and then come out on top of the big race, there are a lot of things that have to go your way.”
Things nearly didn’t go Blessington’s way in 2001 as he nearly cost himself a shot at making the feature. During his qualifier, Blessington bounced off the wall while trying a little bit too hard. He managed to win the race, but he discovered in post-race inspection that his contact with the wall did a bit more damage than he realized.
“Let me tell you, just winning a qualifier is a really big deal because you’re basically racing against the same people you’re going to be racing against in the feature for the most part,” Blessington said. “What happened is it was my own doing. I got a little close to the frontstretch wall at one point during the race and hit it late in the race. When I pulled for tech the right front had already gone down to the rim.”
Much like Indianapolis Motor Speedway seems to choose who wins the Indianapolis 500 each year, Boone Speedway seemingly smiled on Blessington that night. His victory in the qualifier put him on the front row for Saturday night’s feature and he turned his good fortune into his lone Super Nationals triumph.
Blessington had previously finished second in the stock car main event at the Super Nationals prior to his victory in 2001. He thought at the time that runner-up was as close as he would get to victory in the grassroots racing spectacular.
“That year I got second I thought, ‘That was my shot, I’ll never get close to doing that again,’” Blessington said. “We got another shot at it. When you look back, a lot of things had to go your way.”
Does Blessington have a shot at becoming a two-time Super Nationals champion?
He has no idea, but his hopes to at least qualify for Saturday’s finale to give himself a shot at becoming the sixth multi-time winner of the stock car main event at the Super Nationals.
“Our goal when we get to the Super Nationals is the same every year. This goes back all the way even to the year that we won. Our goal is to just do the best we can because there are so many things that are out of your control,” Blessington said. “If I feel like I did the best I could, I’m pretty happy. If I make the show or don’t make the show, that’s icing on the cake if I make the show.”
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