(BLOOMINGTON) - Six years ago, Delta Tau Delta finished the Little 500 in 31st place after qualifying in 33rd.
Jordan Littman of IDS reports, After Saturday's race, DTD is on top of the world.
Led by a breakaway effort from RJ Stuart, Delta Tau Delta won its first-ever Little 500 in front of a packed Bill Armstrong Stadium, ending the Cutters' five-year winning streak.
"This is probably the greatest feeling I've ever experienced," DTD rider Luke Momper said. "Like I said earlier, we qualifed 33rd six years ago, and to come out and qualify top 10 the last couple times and come away with the victory six years later, it's the best turnaround the program has had in it's recent history."?
In a race where there was no clear leader for the first 183 laps, as teams such as Theta Chi, Phi Delta Theta, Sigma Chi, Beta Theta Pi and the Cutters fought with Delta Tau Delta for the lead, Momper decided to pull away from the field and make a move.
It paid off. DTD never lost the lead from that point on, as riders Phil Sojka and Stuart, the Individual Time Trials champion, carried the team through to the finish line.
"You never know you're going to win until the last lap is counted because anything can happen," Sojka said. "I knew RJ was the fastest guy on the track and had the biggest heart here and I expected him to hold on, but you've got to be on pins and needles because it's a scary situation. Luckily it worked out."
Delta Tau Delta's win also signified the end of an era dominated by the Cutters. After five consecutive championships, the Cutters found themselves in fourth place on Saturday when things were all said and done.
Their finish was contributed to two crashes, including one late in the race as rider Kevin Depasse attempted to speed past Beta Theta Pi to move into first place. Depasse slipped and crashed, as other leading teams such as Black Key Bulls and Theta Chi were brought down.
"We had two crashes that were hard to come back from, and we were coming back from the last one, but there just weren't enough laps for us," Cutters rider Tim Nixon said. "It hurts, but we'll be back next year."
Despite having a clean race and being in the lead peloton throughout, Phi Delta Theta was never able to respond to Delta Tau Delta's breakaway. Out of the remaining finishers, Phi Delt finished second in the race.
Following Phi Delt in third was Sigma Chi, who overcame a 10-second penalty around lap 110 after trying to advance their position during a caution to being in contention towards the end. Saturday's finish was Sigma Chi's second year in a row in finishing third in the race.
"We were just in attack mode, just go as fast as you can, hammer, hammer, hammer, and suffer as much as possible while you're out there," Sigma Chi rider Brian Arfmann said. "Unfortunately RJ had too much of a lead and we were working as hard as we could, so I'm definitely glad for our house."
Rounding out the top ten was Theta Chi in fifth, followed by Black Key Bulls, Beta Theta Pi, Gray Goat, Acacia and Wright Cycling.
Wright went from finishing in 30th in qualifications to number 10 overall. Their 20-spot improvement was the highest out of any team in this year's race.
"As soon as we got the Quals position and knew we were in the way back, that was our goal that we would get the Dixie Highway (Trophy) no matter what," Wright rider Jack McMahon said. "The great thing was, we crashed in Lap 50 and lost two laps from it, but we stayed on that lap for the rest of the race. We really pulled together and made it happen."
With Delta Tau Delta's first title in the books after 62 races in the Little 500 history, DTD is ready to celebrate, and is hopeful Saturday's finish will put them at the top for years to come.
"I just don't hope we get kicked off campus tonight honestly," Stuart said. "It's a big moment."
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