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In a battle of attrition, Tyler Bare surges late to claim USA 100 at Va. Motor Speedway

Tyler Bare, 24, breaks through on Virginia’s biggest stage to claim his first-ever Super Late Model win in the 42nd annual USA 100 presented by at Virginia Motor Speedway. Photo courtesy of Larry Burnett.

JAMAICA, Va. — After a methodical yet valiant surge to the apex of one of the most prestigious events on the East Coast, Tyler Bare swung his yellow 43A machine in the pits and pumped his fist into the Saturday night air.

During that celebratory cruise to the impromptu Victory Lane on the front stretch, fans flocked and hollered and competition congratulated, but then father Booper Bare joined the ecstasy and seemingly polished this special moment, lunging both legs in the cockpit and sitting on the door as dad and son inched closer to this long-awaited destination.

For decades, the Bares owned the Virginia Super Late Model circuit, thanks to the dominance of Booper and grandfather Tommy. And on Saturday night, in the state’s most famed race on the eve of Father’s Day, third-generation racer Tyler Bare rode a steady charge to his first SLM victory in the 60-lap Ultimate Super Late Model Series 42nd annual USA 100 presented by at Virginia Motor Speedway.

The 24-year-old pocketed $20,000 in the process, collecting one of the largest paydays in the Mid-Atlantic this season. He also etches his name alongside an accomplished list of winners in the race’s rich history, namely Scott Bloomquist, Jonathan Davenport, Billy Moyer, Chris Madden, Shane Clanton, Chris Ferguson and Jason Covert.

“It couldn’t [get any sweeter],” Tyler Bare said in a post-race phone interview. “I can’t thank [my dad] enough. He’s been by my side through the thick and the thin.”

Bare started ninth and ever-so-slightly maneuvered his way through the pack, saving just enough tread on his tires that proved to be a crucial determinant in the closing stages. Tyler Millwood, who led 48 of 60 laps, relinquished the lead with four laps to go after cutting a tire over a piece of debris during the race’s final caution. Of the 30 drivers, only 14 finished the show, as over a dozen suffered race-ending flat tires.

Before the night, Booper Bare scoped out the racing surface and predicted it’d slick off and rubber up, proverbially eating away at the tires and dooming drivers who don’t manage the 60-lap event wisely. At the end, when the cameras clicked away and the bronze Bald Eagle trophy secured in his son’s hands, father Bare couldn’t have yearned for more.

“I saw six years of experience racing on different racetracks,” Booper Bare said in a culminating moment. “He kept his head on him and didn’t abuse his tires.”

Sure, Bare will likely get slack for not making a green-flag pass for the win. Even he wished he made the go-ahead pass under green: “I really would have rather passed him and get the win that way,” Tyler Bare said. “[My tires] kind of worried me. I knew I wasn’t sliding my tires a whole lot, but I didn’t see how [Millwood] was driving. We had three laps to go. I was just hoping my would [hold] up.”

But on the contrary, Bare won the battle of attrition, conserving rubber with smooth and straight corner entries, rather than cranking the car sideways. For the first 24 laps, Bare hung outside the top five while Millwood opened up a sizeable lead. On Lap 25, Bare entered the top five and slid into third by Lap 34. Three laps later, he powered by Zack Mitchell for second and began reeling in Millwood, who caught lapped traffic. Five cautions stammered the final 21 laps with Millwood able to open up multi-car-length leads on the first four.

“Yes, the 31 car had a flat tire. But maybe Tyler managed his tires better,” Booper Bare said. “No offense to [Millwood], he ran a great race. … You don’t want to see bad luck happen to anyone. But maybe Tyler managed his tires better.”

Team owner Bryan Klinedinst plays a fundamental role in Bare’s upstart rise to superstardom. The Klinedinst family has owned the 43A team for nearly 50 years — since 1969 — housing, fielding and growing some of the top dirt racers on the East Coast. Saturday’s race marked the largest winning check in the history of Klinedinst Motorsports, according to Bryan Klinedinst. He also puts this win “right up next to” Covert’s Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series win in Ohio in 2010.

“This one is pretty special. … This is why we hired him,” Klinedinst said. “He’s smooth and steady. He has maturity beyond his years. … He’s right at the top [with the best up-and-coming dirt racers nationally].”

Saturday marked just the 10th SLM dirt race of Bare’s career. Last season, Bare won the Fastrak Crate Late Model championship and inked a deal with Klinedinst Motorsports to travel the Mid-Atlantic racing scene.

“They picked me over a lot of other drivers. I can’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity,” Bare said. “It’s just a great, great deal. They have their stuff together.”

In eight features this year, Bare now has a win, five top fives, and six top 10s. His other impressive showing came back in April when he finished third in the LOLMDS race at Hagerstown Speedway — behind to only Davenport and Bloomquist.

Tyler Bare (left), LOLMDS points leader Jonathan Davenport (center), and dirt racing Hall of Famer Scott Bloomquist (right) at the podium after April’s LOLMDS race at Hagerstown Speedway. Courtesy of Shane Walters.

With nearly 100 years of racing experience to lean on between the Klinedinst’s and his family and the talent he’s manifested in the early summer weeks of his first full SLM season, more nights like Saturday are bound to unfold.

“All of that showed he can hold his composure,” Booper Bare said. “He doesn’t falter under pressure. And he’s watched races his whole life, and I just think he has a good understanding of what he’s doing.

“There’s a lot of naysayers looking on, seeing if he can handle the pressure,” Booper Bare adds, before pausing and pointing to the racetrack. “That — that’s the pressure Tyler puts on himself. He wants moments like these.”


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