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    A Typical Weekend

    by Pat & Bruce Eckel

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Vince Osmun Memorial At Kokomo

    Sunday, September 3 - It was a tough call today as three good events were all taking place on the same day. I really wanted to go to DuQuoin for the Silver Crown cars on the mile but the 8 PM start on a Sunday night would cause us to have to spend another night in a hotel and after spending big bucks in the South Bend area on Friday night the thought of another hotel bill dimmed the enthusiasm for this event as the days of four hour drives are off the board for the most part. Tri-State was running a MSCS sprint car program but the three hour haul was less appealing than the one and one half hour tow over to Kokomo so the Vince Osmun Memorial won out. This was our 13th visit to the 1/4 mile bullring in 2017 and tonight the program would consist of four classes plus fireworks for a full night of racing. The sprint cars would kick off the qualifying with three heats for their good 28 car field considering that Haubstadt and DuQuoin had both drawn away some of the other normal entrants. Chances were high we would have a first time winner in the sprint cars as only Scotty Weir was a previous winner at Kokomo of the 28 entrants. AJ Hopkins made a statement early wheeling the Ottinger #4J to an impressive victory in heat one over Colten Cottle subbing in the Paul Hazen #57 tonight for his uncle who was steering the Silver Crown car on the Illinois mile at DuQuoin and Ted Hines in a strong run. Heat two saw Isaac Chapple shake the monkey off his back claiming this one over Mitch Wissmiller and Josh Spencer. The final heat saw Tyler Hewitt score the win over Scotty Weir, tonight in the Simon #22S out of Ohio and Landon Simon. The UMP modifieds were next up with four heats for their fine 32 car field with the midgets checking in with 23 cars and three heats with Kyle Schuett showing some speed in heat one, Chase Jones strong in heat two and Stevie Sussex, the driver out of Laveen, Arizona, sticking around after a Smackdown ride did not materialize and getting the call to drive the sprint and midget for the Balwin Brothers on the evening. Twenty two hornets wrapped up the heat qualifying. Ty Tilton did a nice job in winning the sprint car B main while Gary Loney won the midget B main. Track prep was next on the agenda with the sprint car feature the first to be called to the post.


     

    At 9:31 the green flag dropped on the 25 lap sprint car feature with Mitch Wissmiller grabbing the early lead. AJ Hopkins quickly found the high side to his liking and executed a turn four, lap four pass for the lead on Wissmiller. Another car on the move was 11th starting Stevie Sussex who is known as a gasser and went to the cushion at the drop of the green flag. By lap 10 Sussex used a wild homestretch move diving between two cars about midway down the straightway and taking second entering turn one. The only caution of the event would fly on lap 12 when Kyle Simon looped the #23 in between turns three and four to slow the action. On the restart the top two went up top and the race was on. Hopkins was having a wrestling match with the cushion beating it and jumping it on just about every lap. Hopkins managed to open up a good lead again but in the later stages of the event Sussex was coming strong closing the gap as he drove the Baldwin Brothers orange crate against the wall tagging the right rear on the wall for about ten straight laps. At 9:39 Hopkins brought the Ottinger #4J under Brian Hodde's checkered flag first for his first career win at Kokomo beating the invader, Sussex, who finished second with sixth starting Scotty Weir taking third with tenth starting Kyle Robbins claiming fourth and Ted Hines wrapping up a fine night by nailing down the fifth position. Isaac Chapple came home sixth with Josh Spencer taking seventh (needed to finish third or higher to claim the point championship) with Ty Tilton turning in an impressive performance coming from sixteenth to eighth. Garrett Abrams managed a ninth and Colten Cottle rounded out the top ten. The modified 20 lapper was next up with third starting Jamie Lomax scoring the win over Nick Allen, Randy Lines, Dillon Nusbaum and Devin Wright. The 20 lap midget feature would take the green flag at 10:15 with Stevie Sussex against the wall the entire way around scooting to the lead. Lap 7 would see contender, Justin Peck, slow on the homestretch while running third and rolling to a stop to bring out the first of five cautions. Sussex was not to be denied in this one as he flew around the outside lap after lap until the checkered waved at 10:33. Chase Jones would execute a turn four last lap pass of Zeb Wise for second with Kyle Schuett fourth and Mitchell Davis taking fifth. We decided to call it a night at this point satisfied with the program we had just witnessed.


     

    Until next time where a vacation in New Hampshire looms take care and get out there and see some good short track racing in your area as the season is starting to wind down and the engines will soon be silent. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Wild Finish On Final Night At Kokomo's Smackdown VI

    Saturday, August 27 - For the final day of Smackdown we were once again blessed with beautiful weather. After doing a little shopping at a local antique store and eating at the Half Moon Restaurant we pulled onto the parking lot at Kokomo Speedway at 3:15. Once again we were able to find a good parking spot behind the homestretch stands and just sit back and relax.

    We entered the stands when we heard the sprints coming out for wheel packing shortly after 6:00. There was an excitement in the stands as the racing the previous night was really good and tonight was the 40 lap finale. There were no time trials tonight, only four qualifying heats and the King of the Hill for the top 8 in points. Hot laps followed wheel packing and at 7:42 the green fell on the first heat. Heats were 10 laps with only 7 cars in each. However, only the top 2 would make it to the A main. The heats were run off quickly with Chad Boespflug, Jarett Andretti, Chris Windom and Justin Grant taking the top honors and it was on to the King of the Hill. It was noted that some of the drivers are not overly excited with this qualifying procedure but it can be fun for the fans. In King of the Hill two drivers are pitted against each other in a 3 lap dash with the winner moving on to the next round. The pairs, made up of the top 8 in points after the Thursday and Friday events, were Brady Bacon/CJ Leary, Kyle Cummins/Tyler Thomas, Hunter Schuerenberg/Robert Ballou and Kevin Thomas Jr./Tyler Courtney. After round one the pairs came down to Leary/T. Thomas, Schuerenberg/ K. Thomas and the final was definitely going to be won by a Thomas, as Tyler and Kevin took to the track for the final 3 lap event. Kevin Thomas Jr. won the dash and earned the top starting spot for the finale.

    Tonight the Three Quarter (TQ) Midgets of UMRA were on the card. They brought the highest number for the support divisions that ran during Smackdown. They were 20 strong and they ran two heats that were both very entertaining. The 15 lap B main for the sprints followed and the event definitely saw action. There were 19 cars vying for the final 6 qualifying positions. Mario Clouser was racing hard with British invader Tom Harris when they collided on the homestretch before entering turn one. Clouser continued on and would qualify, but Harris found the #5 flipping and ending his night. The race for the final spots was furious with Tyler Hewitt racing into fifth on the final lap to secure a spot in the main event on his birthday. The B Main ended and there was no delay in bringing out the TQ main event. There was some real competitive racing during the 20 lap event as several times the TQ’s ran three wide in the turns. The event also had a triple flip coming out of turn four on lap 7. All drivers were ok. In the end Jason Goff picked up the win followed by Aaron Percell and Brent Watson.

    Now the race we were all waiting for. The 40 lap main event paying $10,000 to the winner. The pageantry prior to this event is always a favorite. Each driver is announced and walks down in front of the homestretch stands as the crowd cheers them on. The green dropped at 10:34 and Tyler Thomas immediately jumped into the lead. For the first 15 laps everything seemed to be running fine. Then T. Thomas caught the tail end of the field and found it difficult to get by Isaac Chapple. KT was closing in and Thomas decided to slightly move Chapple so he could get by. Well slightly might not be the correct word. They did connect and Chapple launched into the turn two fence and flipped. When racing resumed Robert Ballou took over second and KT moved back to fourth. A couple of laps later Boespflug found himself involved in a turn four tangle. Racing now was becoming hot and heavy among the top 10 competitors. Brady Bacon and Josh Hodges, who started 18th, were battling for 6th when they connected on lap 26 giving both competitors a flat tire. Although Hodges made the contact with Bacon I believe it was just hard racing. Both restarted but two laps later Bacon would spin in turn 4 bringing out the 4th caution of the event.

    The remaining laps saw some real close and competitive racing with the exception of the leader. T. Thomas was in total command until the caution came out on lap 39. This caution would change the entire complexion of the race. By this time KT was back in second and it was green white and checkered. On the final lap in turn two Thomas hit the turn two wall with KT immediately behind him. KT also hit the wall and flipped hard. KT immediately emerged from the car unhurt. We were now back to green, white, checkered. Thomas now was being followed by Chris Windom and he was running well on the inside. I looked at Bruce and said I think he can pass him. The next couple laps which should have been the last two were so incredible I do not know how to describe them. Windom pulled a slide job on Thomas and took over the top spot and Thomas shot back underneath. They both appeared to be totally out of control but then they were running for $10,000. Going down the back stretch on lap 40 they collided and Thomas ran over the left front tire of Windom ending his bid for the win. Windom was furious and he threw his steering wheel at Thomas as he drove by the next time. Take three for the green, white and checkered. Thomas was in command but while the action was going on between Thomas and Windom, Tyler Courtney moved into second past Ballou and had something to say about the finish. Courtney would pass Thomas and go on to win for the second night in a row, picking up the $10,000 big check. Tyler Thomas who led nearly the entire race had to settle for second with Robert Ballou finishing third. Scotty Weir finished fourth in the Gass sprinter and Dave Darland from 15th finished fifth.

    The excitement did not stop with the three takes of the final laps. From our seats in Section B we could immediately see Chris Windom walking out of the pit gate toward the top three cars sitting on the homestretch. Of course Courtney was in the BC Victory Lane and you knew it was not Ballou he was going to see. You also knew he was not going to congratulate Thomas on his second place finish. I do not understand why the USAC officials allowed him to make the walk all the way down the track to the 17 of Thomas where be proceeded to throw punches at Thomas while he was still in the car. Thomas was smart and had not taken off his helmet. I am sure Courtney was confused as he heard boos from the crowd and did not realize they were for the actions on the track and not for him. USAC might want to rethink the green, white, checkered when the caution comes out on lap 40. Why not throw the green and white simultaneously. Tonight that extra lap caused a lot of damaged cars and flared tempers.

    No one could say they left Smackdown without seeing excellent and exciting racing. We already know we are going to renew our seats on the homestretch for Smackdown VII. As one of our PA friends said to us, "This is why you moved to Indiana." He is right!!!

    That's it for this weekend and check back next weekend for more racing notes and get out there and see some good short track racing in your area. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Action Packed Night Two of Kokomo Smackdown

    Friday, August 25 - The weather continues to be great with the temperatures cool and with the only thing heating up being the racing action. The two division show tonight would consist of USAC sprints (38) and Indiana Series midgets (11). In a pre-race interview Thomas Meseraull revealed to the fans that they were parked for the weekend as T-Mex had suffered a concussion from his time trial flip on Thursday. Sprint time trials would kick off a little earlier tonight at 6:33 with almost half the field getting just one lap to qualify as many were late for wheel packing earlier. Tyler Thomas, the new hot shoe for the Michael Dutcher #17GP, set fast time with a lap of 12.554 seconds around the 1/4 mile oval. Tyler Courtney set second fast time on his first time trial lap but jumped the cushion in turn four the second time around and flipped the TOPP Motorsports #23C doing some damage to his sprinter. His crew along with help from many others went to work to repair the battered car and by heat two the #23C reappeared but miss qualifying by one position. After sprint time trials the midgets ran hot laps/group qualifying and were completed quickly as by 7:20 the first of four sprint car heats were ready to rumble. Shane Cottle in the legendary Paul Hazen #57 would make no mistakes in his heat tonight scoring the win over fast timer, Tyler Thomas, with last night's winner, CJ Leary third and Tyler Hewitt qualifying for his first Smackdown race of the week. Heat two would see a big upset as England's Tom Harris would blast to the lead and hold off Kyle Cummins, Brady Short and Justin Grant to score his first ever USAC win of any kind. The fans gave him a fine round of applause  appreciating his effort against the best in the wingless world. Dave Darland, a three time Smackdown finale winner, garnered heat three in the Hery #40 winning over Chris Windom, Hunter Schuerenberg and Isaac Chapple back after last night's frightening flip in the B main. The last heat was taken by Chase Stockon on the last lap sliding by Brady Bacon off turn four for the win. Bacon had made an aggressive move low in turn three the previous lap routing Robert Ballou off the bottom to the chagrin of Ballou who showed his displeasure by pulling and slowing in front of Bacon down the backstretch and into turn three gesturing as he drove slowly in front of Bacon. Even Stockon mentioned in his victory lane interview that he benefited from Bacon's dirty move. Don't know what was up with that!! Ballou finished third in this one with Jarett Andretti snagging the last qualifying position. Two midget heats followed with Justin Peck and Colten Cottle taking the wins.


     

    Tonight a C main would be needed with four to advance to the B. Robert Bell took a roll in turn one after making contact with another competitor but was OK after the mishap. Matt Goodnight of Winchester, IN would go onto victory and advance to the back of the B. The B main was next up with some heavy hitters chomping at the bit to grab one of the six positions available to move onto the 30 lap main event. Kevin Thomas Jr. drove his own #9K to victory over Tyler Courtney, Kody Swanson, Aaron Farney, Scotty Weir and Josh Hodges as the last man in. Chad Boespflug would be forced to burn a provisional to join the field starting twenty third on the grid. While the teams prepared for the 30 lap feature the midgets ran their 20 lap feature with a good three car battle up front for the lead taken by Justin Peck in the Irwin #7K winning over the Clauson/Marshall entry of young Zeb Wise with Colten Cottle third, TQ midget grad Nick Speidel fourth and Kyle O'Gara, brother in law of Sarah Fisher, taking fifth. Chris Baue took a nasty flip in turn one on lap 13 and fortunately was OK after the hard tumble.


     

    Now it was time for the 30 lap USAC National Sprint Car feature and the green would wave at 9:14 on the 23 car field. CJ Leary who started fourth attacked the cushion on the start and blasted by everyone as they exited turn two to take the lead on lap one. As Leary charged into turn one on the start of the second lap he caught the berm wrong, pounded the wall and stood his car on its nose before returning to earth. What looked like a repeat win for Leary ended much too early. The rough start to the feature continued on lap two when Kody Swanson got sideways off turn four, hit the infield tire and launched into a series of flips ending his night much too early also. Hunter Schuerenberg assumed the lead on the restart with Justin Grant and Tyler Thomas in tow. Lap eight saw Thomas bid for the lead with a slider on Schuerenberg between turns one and two with contact between the two as they exited turn two. Tyler was sideways on the backstretch but retained control and continued. Tyler Courtney made his presence known catching Grant for third and Thomas for second on one fair swoop on the backstretch on lap nine. Courtney continued to work the bottom to perfection passing Schuerenberg for the lead on lap ten. Courtney paced the middle portion of the race but Schuerenberg inched closer to the leader as the bottom began to fade. Courtney moved to the middle with six to go and was able to repel the Schuerenberg march. Shane Cottle lost the handle on his racer on the homestretch shortly thereafter and brought out the yellow and bunched the field back up. While Courtney had held sway up front many noticed the advances of Kevin Thomas Jr. from ninth and Brady Bacon from eighteenth into the top five. On the restart bedlam brought out behind Courtney as Scheurenberg, Thomas Jr., Bacon and T. Thomas went to war for second. Tyler Thomas pulled an amazing move off turn four from the top groove to the bottom splitting KTJ and Bacon to snag second entering turn one. Coming off turn four on lap 27 T. Thomas was high with KTJ countering low with wheel contact between the two sending T. Thomas sliding back to fourth. Bacon took advantage of the tangle and blasted by the other two into second as the crowd roared. Bacon stuck his nose underneath Courtney entering turn three on the last lap but Courtney was able to stave off the challenge and flashed under the checkered flag at 9:40 for his fourth USAC sprint car win of the year and first ever at Kokomo. Brady Bacon would finish second with Kevin Thomas Jr. third, Tyler Thomas fourth and Hunter Schuerenberg taking fifth. Positions six through ten were filled by Robert Ballou, Kyle Cummins, Justin Grant, Scotty Weir and Chris Windom. What a fine night of racing was witnessed by one and all at Kokomo tonight and this sort of racing is what makes it the baddest bullring in Indiana!!!


     

    The top eight in Smackdown points are locked into Saturday night's final with Brady Bacon on top of the points followed by Kevin Thomas Jr., Hunter Schuerenberg, Tyler Thomas, Kyle Cummins, Robert Ballou, Tyler Courtney and CJ Leary. Check back soon for the report on the final night of Smackdown VI from Kokomo Speedway. Enjoy the good short track racing in your area and be safe. Thanks for reading.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Smackdown VI Kicks Off At Kokomo

    Thursday, August 24 - It was a beautiful August day with temperatures in the 70's with lots of sunshine and a good breeze to boot. It was a fine way to kick off the official night one of Smackdown VI at the 1/4 mile Kokomo Speedway. Last night's track was a struggle after being over-watered but tonight the surface was in tip top shape for the night of racing. Thirty eight wingless sprint cars were joined by fourteen 600 winged micro sprints for the two division show with time trials opening the program at 6:50. Late in the session Thomas Meseraull in the Chase Briscoe #5B pitched it sideways on the high side entering turn one and caught the cushion wrong and went for a ride ending up midway through turn one in the fencing. The bent up race car was towed to the pit area and it was a very short night for T-Mez on this Thursday. By 7:23 Justin Grant had placed the McGhee #11 at the top of the heap in time trial action with a time of 12.685 seconds around the 1/4 mile bullring to become the fast timer on the evening.


     

    From there a short break for some track maintenance, 600 warmups and to give time to the sprint car teams to prepare for their upcoming heat races it was time to go heat racing at 7:54. The track was in excellent shape allowing many grooves to be explored during the running of the four heats and many drivers tested one or several of them in the course of their heat race. Aaron Farney grabbed the heat one victory outrunning Scotty Weir, Robert Ballou and Justin Grant in the process. Heat two saw a strong run from Jarett Andretti winning over Chase Stockon, Hunter Schuerenberg in one of two Reinbold entries out of Arizona and Chad Boespflug. Dave Darland put the Mark Hery #40 on the top to win heat three over Chris Windom, Kyle Cummins and CJ Leary catching a break to place in the top four qualifiers after veteran Shane Cottle made a rare mistake and spun by himself in turn four while running fourth. This would play out big for the feature. New Mexico's Josh Hodges making his first Smackdown start a good one by notching heat four beating out Tyler Courtney, Brady Bacon and Kevin Thomas Jr., Wednesday night's winner. The winged 600's ran two smooth heats with Kole Kirkman from Kokomo and Craig Ronk from Warsaw dominating. The 21 car sprint B main was next on the agenda with six more cars to move on to the big 30 lap feature event. Tyler Thomas brought the Michael Dutcher #17GP home first out-pacing Shane Cottle, Mario Clouser, Brady Short in the other Reinbold entry, Kody Swanson in the Epperson #2E and Brian Karracker. This race had a nasty ending as Logan Jarrett and Isaac Chapple were battling for a qualifying position as they entered turn four on the final lap with Chapple colliding with Jarrett causing both of them to take some wild flips before landing back on the track. There was a hush until everyone realized that both drivers were OK and a loud round of applause went out and a big sigh of relief. Some of the concern was due to the fact that Chapple had just returned from sitting out for a while after suffering injuries from another nasty ride at Terre Haute in hot laps before the rains came on that program.


     

    The 15 lap 600 micro sprint feature would report to the post and take the green flag at 9:08. The event almost went non-stop until second place runner, Devan Myers, slowed on the homestretch with one to go when mechanical woes hit the #75. In the meantime Craig Ronk had made shambles of the field lapping many of the 14 starters until the caution appeared. This gave Kole Kirkman one last shot to unseat Ronk but on the restart Kirkman's mount did not fire properly and he headed pit side handing second over to Cailin Hunt where she would finish in her pretty #1 with Jordan Welch bringing his #23J in for third behind the high flying Ronk.


     

    By virtue of his fourth place finish in heat three sixth quickest timer, CJ Leary, would bring the field to the green flag along with Hunter Schuerenberg with the front row running side by side for almost the entire first lap with Leary edging out front as they exited turn four. Kevin Thomas Jr. made some heady moves in the first lap charging from eighth to fifth by the end of the first circuit. Trouble occurred at the flagstand on lap 4 when Kevin Thomas Jr.'s left rear made contact with Justin Grant's right front causing Grant's steering to go awry with Grant sliding straight toward the turn one wall but able to brake before any impact was made and luckily no one else was involved in the tussle. Grant returned later but finished 22nd in the final rundown which was point costly to the current USAC National Sprint Car point leader. On the restart Brady Bacon found his way around Schuerenberg for second as Leary took off again. Lap traffic tightened things up as the leaders approached the backmarkers near the midway point of the event. No sooner did the leaders reach the back of the field the caution appeared as Shane Cottle spun backwards toward the turn three wall minus a front tire which bounded down into the infield. This was a big break for Leary as he would have a clear track on the restart on lap 23. Leary took to the top on the restart and pulled away from Bacon in the Dooling-Heyward #63. Leary flashed under Tom Hansing's checkered flag winning almost to the day of his first USAC National sprint car win here last year besting Bacon with Robert Ballou driving a good race from ninth to third with KTJ fourth and Schuerenberg holding on for fifth in a good run. Chad Boespflug tried his darnedest to pass Schuerenberg but had to settle for sixth with Kyle Cummins seventh, Kody Swanson from thirteenth to eighth in a very good run considering the night before he did not even make the starting grid. Chris Windom claimed ninth after starting fifteenth and Josh Hodges rounding out the top ten.

    It was a very good night of racing with multiple grooves and much side by side racing and good battles throughout the field which is what you come to expect when you visit Kokomo and tonight no one left disappointed. Come back soon to read about the final two nights of Smackdown VI where no fewer than six Hoseheads.com columnists were in town to provide flag to flag coverage of this prime time event for wingless sprint car racing. Until next time get out there this weekend and experience some good short track racing wherever you may be and above all be safe. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and thanks for reading our efforts as you all make it worthwhile.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    All Star Sprints At Susquehanna & #GYATK Night At Kokomo

    Sunday, August 20 - It was the last day of our eight day trip back East for some racing and to visit with friends and the racing part would take place at the same venue that the trip started at that being the Susquehanna Speedway near Newberrytown, PA where the All Star Circuit Of Champion Sprint Cars would be making their first appearance in 26 years!! After a nice breakfast at the B & B we headed out and spent a day of antiquing in Adamstown where there are numerous shops to tickle your fancy and we both did so picking up many treasures to add to our collections. Of special interest was the purchase of 20 vintage midget race car photos taken by various photographers including the late Bruce Craig of Phillipsburg, NJ, a good friend of mine before his passing several years ago. They will be displayed in one of our picture albums for years to come.

    We arrived at the track in late afternoon and already found a good sized crowd on hand. It was a much larger crowd that we expected and were thankful at our Pennsylvania friends had placed an extra blanket down for us and we were able to converse and just enjoy each other's company for one last time this visit. Time trials kicked off at 6:55 for the fine 36 car field on hand and when things were said and done it was Kunkletown's favorite son, Ryan Smith, setting fast time with a time of 15.317 seconds. After a short break it was right into heat racing for the All Stars with four in number advancing the top five to the main event. Lance Dewease wheeled the Donnie Kreitz #69K to victory in heat one over Tim Shaffer and Ryan Smith. Heat two saw Brock Zearfoss in the family owned #3Z claim the top spot beating Dale Blaney and Max Stambaugh. Eighteen year old Anthony Macri scored the heat three win over Mark Smith and Rico Abreu. The final heat went to Greg Hodnett in the Mike Heffner #27 over Lucas Wolfe and Danny Dietrich who had a race long battle for second. On the card with the All Stars were the PA Sprint Series 305's who brought a big field of 37 cars to the party. They ran their heats off in good fashion and by 8:53 all heat racing was completed. The two dash races for the All Stars with five in each race would determine the top ten starting positions in the feature with the first dash being the inside row starters and the second dash determining the outside row starters. Greg Hodnett took dash one with Anthony Macri notching dash two. The 410 sprint B main went to Sammy Swindell in town this weekend to driver the Coldren #07 in place of the injured Doug Esh. Two B mains for the 305's followed with all qualifying in the books by 9:37.

    The green would wave on the Justin Snyder's Salute To The Troops 30 lap All Star sprint feature at 10:09 with Greg Hodnett assuming command the lead. Turn two on lap two saw the first caution appeared as Cory Haas, Rico Abreu and Ryan Smith got together and spun. On the restart Lucas Wolfe passed Macri for second and took up the chase of Hodnett. Lap traffic came into play on lap 8 and Hodnett's lead shrunk as the slower cars were difficult to pass and Wolfe closed the two second gap. Hodnett was able to maneuver the traffic and open up his lead once again. The second and final caution appeared on lap 25 when Tyler Esh spun on the backstretch and slowly moved off force the stoppage and wiped out Hodnett's nearly four second lead. On the restart Hodnett went back to the bottom and took off again and at 10:27 flashed under the checkered flag again with nearly a two second lead to score his first All Star win in over two years beating Lucas Wolfe, Lance Dewease, Anthony Macri and Brock Zearfoss to the finish. Since we were driving two hours back toward Indiana this evening we decided to forgo the 305 main event and head for the exits and the PA Turnpike after bidding farewell to our PA friends. A good eight days of racing and visiting only suffering one rainout over the eight day period.

    Wednesday, August 23 - Tonight was #GYATK (or Get Your Ass To Kokomo) night at Kokomo Speedway, the free night of racing offered by the O'Connor family as part of their sixth running of the Smackdown events run Thursday through Saturday at the classic 1/4 mile bullring in The City Of Firsts named so because of innovations developed in Kokomo mainly in the automotive industry. The atmosphere was electric as it seemed every nook and cranny was filled by some sort of RV or car parked to witness this four nights of wingless racing Nirvana. The track was over watered but with the cooperation of the 44 car field on hand who came out and ran in the wet surface things were able to still kick off with hot laps/group time trials by heats at 7:32. By the start of the first heat at 8:18 it was still wet and difficult to pass on and basically one groove on the top. Scotty Weir in the Gass #17 drew first blood tonight taking heat one of six over Mario Clouser and Tyler Courtney with only three advancing to the main event. Heat two saw Jarett Andretti stave off Thomas Meseraull and Hunter Schuerenberg in one of two Reinbold #19's out of Arizona (the other being wheeled by Brady Short). This heat also had some controversy as first starting Justin Grant in the McGhee #11 looked as if he had some help spinning off turn four before the green flag waved. Many felt (including us) that it was unfair to relegate him to the rear as the green had never waved to start the event. If that is an USAC rule then maybe it should be reviewed on a case to case basis and if unassisted you go to the rear but if assisted you retain your starting position. Heat three saw Dave Darland bring the Hery #40 across first over Robert Ballou and Brandon Mattox. In heat four Clinton Boyles caught the fence in turn two and took a couple of nasty rolls before coming to a halt. Boyles was OK but done for the evening. Chris Windom in the Baldwin Brothers orange crate #5 won turning back CJ Leary (the night's overall fast timer) and Kyle Cummins in the Byram #3R. Alabama native, Kevin Thomas Jr., scored the win in heat five bringing his own #9K with new sponsorship from Jam-It-In Storage home first over Tyler Thomas and Josh Cunningham in a fine run to move onto the big dance in his Jesus Saves #3. Travis Welpott scored the biggest upset of the night cashing in his up front starting spot to win heat five over Aaron Farney and Brian Karracker.

    Next was suppose to be a C main but instead because of a few scratches it was decided to run a 22 car B main instead with just four to qualify. Believe me this one was packed and quite a few cars would load up early as there were no provisionals in this non-points USAC program and you had to race to get in. some notables not making tonight's field were Justin Grant, Brady Short, Kody Swanson, Isaac Chapple, Tyler Hewitt, Kyle Robbins, Logan Jarrett and 15 others had a short night. By the way Chad Boespflug brought the Hoffman #69 in the B main win over Brady Bacon, Colten Cottle and Chase Stockon the last man in. By 10:07 it was feature time with Chris Windom and Jarett Andretti pacing 20 other drivers to the green flag with Windom jumping to the point on the start. Kevin Thomas Jr. started fourth and worked on Jarett Andretti passing him for second with an inside pass in turn three on a lap four restart and went after Windom. Thomas looked inside and outside on the leader and Windom chose to protect low with Thomas blasting to the high side to take the lead on the backstretch right in front of us on lap eight. Windom inched back up alongside Thomas as they charged down the homestretch with Thomas in front at the line by inches. At this point Thomas started to check out and instead the battle was on for second between Windom and Dave Darland with Darland seizing the spot on lap 10. They ran this way until lap 19 when Windom found a second wind and passed Darland with a turn one slider on lap 19 which Darland countered as they raced side by side down the backstretch. Windom was able to hold off Darland in turn four and reclaim the second spot at that point. Thomas was long gone at this time and breezed under the checkered flags at 10:21 claiming this event for the second straight year winning over Windom, Robert Ballou who picked off Darland for third late in the contest with Darland fourth and Tyler Courtney snatching fifth on the last lap from CJ Leary. The second five was filled by Leary, Andretti, Cummins, Farney and Meseraull. It was a good race not great but good and was a real bargain for the price and hopefully brought out some local folks to check out what all the commotion is on the north side of town and the racing and atmosphere will bring them back in the future.

    Check back soon as we will try to bring you our views of Smackdown VI as it unfolds the next three days at Kokomo. Until then get out there and enjoy some midweek and weekend good short track racing in your area. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for commenting and letting us know you enjoy our efforts as it keeps us going.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    USAC Midgets Visit The Clyde & Linda's Along With Action At The Action Track

    Tuesday, August 15 - Some wet stuff dropped upon us in the morning but by afternoon things were bright and sunny. The USAC midgets had a return date to the Clyde Martin Speedway in the wilds of Brickerville, a tiny 1/8 mile dirt oval with good banking and even better racing. Tanner Thorson thrilled the capacity crowd last year as he spun early and returned from the rear to grab the victory after a last corner, last lap pass to win. Tonight would find 22 USAC midgets and a fine field of 47 600 micro sprints to do battle at the Clyde on this evening and again the crowd turned out in good numbers to pack the joint. Midget time trials started the program at 7:02 and by 7:18 Clauson/Marshall driver, Shane Golobic, had set fast time with a lap of 10.554 seconds around the 1/8 mile oval. The 600's would spin off four competitive heats with Heath Hehnly, Nash Ely, son of former 410 sprint car driver, Dave Ely, Jacob Severn and Alex Bright scoring victories. Three heats races would follow with Justin Grant winning heat one over Golobic and Spencer Bayston. Ryan Greth executed a snap roll in turn two in this one battling for the lead and would return later to run the feature. Heat two saw local Tim Buckwalter wheeling the Seymour Enterprises #29 with sponsorship from Bentley Warren's Saloon in Maine adnoring the hood triumph over Tanner Carrick and Tanner Thorson, teammates out of the Keith Kuntz stables. The third heat saw Alex Bright again score the win for the local contingent beating Adam Pierson from Vermont (looking impressive in his runs in the series) and his teammate, Andrew Layser. Then the turning point of the night occurred when the track grader came out to cut off the top of the cushion but by mistake cut the cushion completely down and returned the track back to the shape it was in prior to warmups, smooth and narrow. This took any chance away from someone being able to use the cushion to advance forward in the feature and made the track difficult to pass on.

    The green would fall on the 22 car starting field at 9:13 and quickly the red waved as the front row of Tyler Courtney and Justin Grant tangled in turn two with Grant launching over the right front tire of Courtney and flipping high into the air for the second straight night. Grant was OK after landing but the midget was not so good. On the restart Tanner Thorson moved to the outside of the front row and took the lead from Courtney and never looked back. Brady Bacon passed Spencer Bayston for second on lap four and took up the race long chase of Thorson for the remaining 36 laps to no avail. Passing was at a premium going forward slowed by two reds and four yellows. The last slowdown occurred on lap 21 when Kenny Miller III and Holly Shelton tangled with Shelton flipping multiple times before climbing unhurt from her bent machine. When the checker waved at 9:43 it was Thorson in for his second straight win at Clyde Martin winning over Bacon with Courtney third, Bayston fourth and Golobic rounding out the top five. Chad Boat slipped by Tim Buckwalter late to take sixth with Buckwalter following with Tanner Carrick eighth, Tony DiMattia ninth and Landon Simon tenth. It was a big letdown as the track never came around in the short period that they ran the feature and I'm sure almost everyone walked away disappointed especially if they were in attendance last year for the barnburner that took place at the Clyde. There was still a 30 lap 600 feature yet to run and the bulk of the crowd stuck around to watch these guys go at it. It was the better of the two features with fourth starting Tim Buckwalter taking top honors over Heath Hehnly, Jarid Kunkle, Bradley Brown from tenth and Ryan Groff with the final checker waving at 10:31. From there it was a short seven mile ride back to the Brownstone Bed and Breakfast in nearby Reinholds but it was made more difficult by fog that settled in on the country backroads on the trip back.

    Wednesday, August 16 - It was hot but it was also sunny. The day started with a very nice dinner at the home of Bill and Judy Burns in Mohrsville, PA. After a delicious meal Bruce and I set out for my dad’s house before heading to the Action Track at the Kutztown Fairgrounds. Bill was also heading to Kutztown along with Dale O’Brien, our Green Bay buddy now living in Florida. It would be my Dad’s first trip to the races this season and he was looking forward to going to Kutztown. He often talks about going to the Fairgrounds at Kutztown when he was a boy and seeing the cars run on the mile track that years ago sat in the same area as the now current 1/5 mile track. It was fair week so we were arriving early to get a place to park and seats in the stands. Kutztown draws a good crowd on a weekly basis and we thought with the fair it could draw even more people. It was also the final race of the year as college would be back in swing and this track only runs when the University of Kutztown is not in session giving them a short season compared to most tracks in the area. Strangely with all the rainy weather in the area this year, the track did not suffer a single rainout. But we had nothing to worry about because Dwight Bucks of Topton, PA was saving us seats for the event. If there is one thing that is very plentiful at Kutztown it is cars. The weekly show consists of the speedsters, 600 micro sprints and slingshots. Tonight the pits were packed. The slingshots ran earlier in the fair week and tonight they only ran a scramble, a B main and their A main. A scramble is a race for the cars that did not qualify the previous week for the A main. They run 10 laps and the winner automatically qualifies for the A main on that night. This will always give everyone a chance from the previous week. There were 27 slingshots that completed in these events. There were 72 600’s competing in 2 scrambles, 7 heat races, 2 D mains, 2 C mains, a B main and a 60 lap A main. The speedsters were 29 strong running 3 heats, a B main and a 30 lap A main. Yes, it was a lot of racing. There were cars that spun, cars that flipped and during the B main for the speedsters a car ripped down a huge section of the homestretch fence. Yet after starting at 6:15 and running 20 preliminary events, the first of the three A mains took the green at 9:29. The night belonged to Billy Pauch Jr. and Tim Buckwalter. In both the 600’s and the speedsters they were battling for the point championship. If you won the event you won the title. The crowd was divided between the two and everyone seemed to have their favorite. The speedsters did not disappoint. It was an epic battle for the win between the two right down to the end. They ran side by side and sometimes touched but never caused the other to spin. In the end it was Tim Buckwalter winning the race and the championship, from his 8th starting position. Billy Pauch Jr. settled for second after starting on the pole. Jeff Hartman, Matt Janisch and Matt Westfall rounded out the top five.

    Now for the 600’s and the same scenario for Buckwalter and Pauch. Tonight was an extra distance race of 60 laps and the cautions ran high. Ten times it waved. Unfortunately the race was cut short for Pauch when he tangled with Eric Bodine and he hit the wall. Buckwalter would finish second and go on to win the point championship. Kyle Spence won the event. Kyle Lick, Eric Bodine and Jesse Maurer rounded out the top five. The night ended with the slingshot feature and at 10:53 the final checkered of the evening fell. Not bad, 23 races in a 4 hours and 15 minutes and this included a 13 minute delay for fence repairs. We all enjoyed the events of the night and did not say good bye but see you tomorrow.

    Thursday, August 17 - The final night of the Eastern swing for the USAC midgets would take place at the Linda's Speedway, a 1/4 mile dirt oval near Jonestown, PA right off of I-78. It was the first visit for USAC at Linda's and a good crowd turned out for the night's events in though the All Star Sprints were also running tonight at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville. Our whole gang sat together for one last time as we had some good conversations before action began at 7:03 with USAC midget time trials. Brady Bacon in the Fred Manafort #76M would cop the fast time award with a lap of 12.474 seconds around the 1/4 mile oval. Twenty two USAC midgets would run three heats with Adam Pierson taking heat one fending off Holly Shelton and Spencer Bayston. Tanner Carrick would score heat two triumphing over Tanner Thorson and Justin Grant back in the saddle after two previous horrible evenings of racing. Heat three saw Tyler Courtney win over Chad Boat and Tim Buckwalter. The 600 mini sprints brought a stout field of 50 cars to the dance with five heats needed to qualify their big field. Austin Quick scored heat win number one over 15 year old Indiana invader, Zeb Wise. Tim Buckwalter won heat two, Jimmy Glenn heat three, Kyle Lick heat four and Tyler Brehm notching heat win number five. In a nice gesture by track management since there was no B main needed for the midgets they decided to allow the USAC midgets to run their 30 lap feature before running the 600 C and B mains. This would allow the traveling teams to get about an hour and a half jump on the long tow back home with many of them headed to the Springfield mile on Saturday afternoon for an USAC Silver Crown race.

    Chad Boat and Shane Golobic would bring the 22 car field to the green flag at 8:48 with Boat going to the early lead. Boat found the middle groove to his liking as he pulled away from the field. Lap traffic encountered by lap 11 allowed Golobic and Courtney to close the gap as it was difficult for the leaders to pass the tail enders. Two quick cautions just before the halfway mark allowed the track to clear in front of Boat and he was home free from this point. Lap 22 saw Eric Heydenreich flip on the backstretch entering turn three. He walked away uninjured after the wild ride. Golobic was able to close on Boat in the last nine laps sticking his nose underneath Boat several times but Boat was able to hold off the late challenges and flashed under the checkered at 9:09 to score his second win in the four race series and further establish himself as Mr. August in the USAC midget ranks. Golobic finished second with Spencer Bayston claiming third, Tyler Courtney stepping in for fourth with Justin Grant salvaging a fifth out of the evening. We were disappointed again as the top five all started in the top five thus there was not much passing taking place. The 25 lap 600 feature went green at 10:15 with Ryan Groff going to the point and holding off all challengers to take the big win. Austin Quick would finish second with Jim Radney advancing from 12th to 3rd with Tim Buckwalter fourth and BJ Antonio taking fifth at 10:24 in a well run program.

    That's it for this installment and next column will cover our Sunday visit to Susquehanna Speedway for the All Star Sprints and then it is onto Kokomo Speedway for Smackdown and four nights of wingless racing on the baddest bullring in the country. Until next time get out there and see some good short track racing in your area and stay dry. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Long Night At Mansfield & USAC Midget Barnburner At Susquehanna & Path Valley

    Friday, August 11 - After spending a frustrating night last Friday at Shadyhill we decided to skip the MSCS show there and instead took in a Class A baseball game in Fort Wayne where the Tin Caps play to crowds over 7000 fans a night and rank in the top 2% of all minor league ballparks. Some of the reasons are that they start on time, provide good entertainment at a reasonable price ($10 for the best seats in the house), do many fan friendly promotions during the game, have a variety of food choices at reasonable prices and are family friendly. That's what brings out people to a venue to spend their hard earned money and that is where many of our race tracks in this country are falling far short of. The days of opening the gates and people will show up has pasted a long time ago. The game was very entertaining with the Tin Caps coming back from a 5-0 deficit and winning 8-7. To cap off the evening a very good fireworks display was shot off at the end and not very many people left before the final firecracker went off in the sky.


     

    Saturday, August 12 - We continued working our way East by traveling from Fort Wayne over to Mansfield, Ohio to attend the Great Lakes Dirt Nationals at the very nicely maintained Mansfield Motor Speedway, a 4/10 mile semi-banked dirt oval with ample seating for the large crowd that turned out for the evening and morning of racing. A very impressive three division open wheel contingent of sprint cars of all engine sizes turned out to take their shot at the big bucks on the line tonight. In the packed pit area were 63 winged 410 sprint cars, 36 BOSS wingless sprints and 40 winged 305 sprint cars. This was going to make for a long night of racing which was anticipated but not as long as it turned out to be. Each division would run hot laps/time trials which kicked off at 6:50 and wrapped up at 8:49. Phil Gressman in the winged 410's was the first one to get upside down during one of the sessions and his evening was shortened.

    Following the qualifying sessions the 25 lap makeup BOSS sprint car feature was called to the post with the green flag waving at 9:05. Dustin Smith from Russiaville, Indiana took his #77 to the front and ran a flawless race to score the $1500 win over Chad Wilson with Paul Dues advancing from 10th to claim the final podium position. Michael Fischesser and young Tyler Gunn rounded out the top five in this one. Next up were the six winged 410 sprint car heats and at this point it was where the train began to go off the tracks. A better system needs to be put into place for pushing off the heat races rather than what was currently used. Having every team with their four wheelers roll the sprinters onto the track and then have push vehicles push them off they should take advantage of the former asphalt pit road to line up the first three heats ahead of time with spacing so each push vehicle can come behind and push them off into turn one would save a lot of time and when you have this many cars (and how many more will they get for $100,000 to win in April of 2018) to push off in three divisions. Caleb Armstrong, Byron Reed, central PA's Brock Zearfoss, Jimmy Seger, Travis Philo and Dean Jacobs won their respective races. BOSS ran their four heats next with Shane Cottle, Tyler Gunn (doing double duty), Dustin Smith and Dallas Hewitt scoring wins. The 305's ran four heats next and then it was right into the B mains where every division needed two to complete the qualifying. We noticed during the course of the heats leading up to the B mains that the crowd started to thin as people headed for the exits without seeing the bulk of the features that they came to see. Promotion should take note and realize that the majority of those who left will not be returning and when people are leaving before things are completed that your program is too long. Some people would counter with that you should expect a long evening but in this day and age people are looking to be entertained in a timely manner (see Friday above) and leave with a good taste in their mouths so to speak. You would think that the promotional team would improve on their presentation of events as their previous attempts in Indianapolis and St. Louis turned into nine plus hour marathons and tonight was no exception!! The best performance of the evening occurred in the second winged 410 sprint B main when Port Royal's current point leader, Dylan Cisney, charged from ninth to claim second and the last qualifying position for the evening pounding the cushion all the way around the track. So what did management do before bringing out the wingless feature was knock down the cushion and take away any chance of someone using it to provide entertainment in the upcoming event.


     

    At 1:25 AM the 30 lap, $5000 to win BOSS sprint car feature took the green flag with Shane Cottle going to the front from his second starting position. Cole Ketchum's flip in turn three on lap four brought out the only stoppage of this event with the driver OK. Cottle would control the contest from start to finish with Michael Fischesser making a late run but not being able to make a real serious challenge for the top spot. Dustin Smith finished third with CJ Leary coming from 12th to 4th with Cody Gardner rounding out the top five at 1:44 AM. The $15,000 to win winged 410 sprint feature was next and took the green flag at 2:03. Two quick reds in the opening lap, one for a pileup in turn two and the other for a triple flip in turn three, had management deciding to cut the number of laps from 30 to 20. To us this seemed unfair to the paying fan who spent seven hours up to this point waiting to see the 30 lap feature and now at 2:30 AM they decide that time is an issue and cut the laps from their featured race and also the following 305 sprint car feature by 10 laps. Should have thought about some time saving measures around four hours earlier!! Then during one of the restarts leader, Jimmy Seger, brought the field around slowly with several cars three or four rows back jumping on the restart with the call to place Seger (of all people) one spot back for bringing the field to the green too slowly!! What happen to the leader dictates the start of the race?? My feelings on this matter is you just took $15,000 out of the hand of Seger for doing nothing wrong as with the track conditions locked down at this point I question if anyone would have passed him for the lead otherwise. Caleb Armstrong was gifted the top spot at this point and pulled away to an easy victory over Adam Kekich who made a late race pass of Seger for second with Seger third, Mark Smith fourth and Brock Zearfoss fifth with four of the top five finishers all starting within the top five with only Zearfoss making any headway advancing from 12th to fifth at the finish at 2:54. As the bulk of the remaining crowd exited the grandstands the announcer commented that you should stay for one more race as what's one more race at this hour. Well, for the fan who had to travel a distance to return home that is the difference between leaving the track at 3 AM and not 4 AM when the 305 feature ended. If you want to build a loyal following of fans for the future the management must look into ways of shortening the length of the racing program as most people do not want to be at a race track for nine to ten hours as they will find something more entertaining at lesser hours to fill their need for enjoyable entertainment.


     

    Sunday, August 13 - There are good races, there are great races, there are awesome races and there is Susquehanna. Sunday night was the opening night of the USAC midgets Eastern swing and the opening race was at Susquehanna Speedway and it would be a time to visit with our racing friends from Pennsylvania and visit family while we also enjoy some good midget racing in the whole process. It was good again to see our friends such as Dwight, Gary, Marshall, Ed, Bill, Bruce, Doug and Stephanie, Bezz and Karen, Hoppel, Rouser, Wendell and Dale and to swap stories and compare notes from races visited during our times apart. It was also nice to return to some of our former haunts and marvel at the wonderful job that the Gobrecht family and general manager, Kolten Gouse, had done to bring this facility back to life. It went from a dump to a showplace with improvements continuing all the time. Really wish though that they would have constructed the large starter's stand out of another material that you could see through as the large structure obstructs your view of turn three from almost everywhere in the nice aluminum grandstands.


     

    It was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the low 80's, perfect weather for a good night of racing. One big thing which was a great improvement from our last visit was the track surface which was well groomed and virtually dust free the entire evening. Things kicked off at 7:06 with time trials for the 28 midgets on hand and were quickly spun off ending at 7:30 with Tyler Courtney setting fast time at 17.719 seconds. Two other divisions joined the midgets on the card with 600 cc micro sprints (10) and extreme stocks (12). Two perfect filler classes to allow the midgets time to prepare their cars between time trials, heats, B main and feature. The two 600 heats were up first and Tyler Walton and Dexter Strausser looked strong winning their respective races. The three USAC midget heats were next with Tyler Courtney running away with heat one though the racing from second through fifth was intense. Heat two saw Brady Bacon prevail in an excellent race coming from the rear after an early race tangle. Tanner Thorson passed Holly Shelton on the white flag lap to capture heat three before the extreme stocks polished off their two heats. It was then right into the midget B main where two time 2017 ARDC winner, Adam Pierson from Bradford, Vermont, earned the victory in a fine performance.


     

    Lined up and waved off at 9:14 was the 30 lap USAC midget feature with Tanner Thorson taking the initial lead. Brady Bacon caught and passed Thorson for the lead on the backstretch on lap five and dominated the middle portion of the event leading laps six to twenty two until Thorson retook the top position. Thorson looked like the man to beat at this point until the caution waved with just two laps to go when top five running Brady Bacon slowed to a stop on the backstretch with a broken u-joint. On the restart Thorson went to the point once again with Justin Grant who was fifth just a few laps earlier taking advantage of the tough breaks of others sitting in third. Grant took second from Bayston on the restart but a quick caution for the disabled Jim Radney placed Bayston back in second. On the second restart Bayston used a slider in turn one to take the lead with Thorson countering in turn two but not able to reclaim the lead as the pair raced to the white flag. On the final lap Thorson drew alongside Bayston down the backstretch with Grant also diving low to make it three wide for a brief instance. Entering turn three side by side the Kuntz teammates played chicken seeing which would lift first with both of them jumping the cushion in turn four with Grant seizing the opportunity turning hard left and driving by both of them as they fought to regain control and race back to the line. It was enough time for Grant to roar toward the finish line and hold off Thorson for the unlikely win with Bayston settling for third followed by Shane Golobic and Tanner Carrick moving from 17th to 5th at the wire earning the hard charger award in the process. Boy, did this finish have the crowd buzzing!!   WOW, WOW, WOW!!!  It was awesome and a great start to the USAC midget Eastern swing.


     

    Monday, August 14 - Last year rainy weather totally disrupted this Pennsylvania swing of the USAC midget series with only one date (Clyde Martin) being able to run their scheduled program. Tonight's weather looked questionable earlier in the week but improved as the day drew closer. The bad weather according to the radar was going to pass below us up in the hills near Spring Run, PA where the 1/4 mile bullring of the Path Valley Speedway Park is located. Action got underway slightly before 7 with time trials for the 24 car field with 23 actually being able to take time. When qualifying was finished at 7:12 Keith Kuntz Motorsports driver, Spencer Bayston, stood quickest with a time of 11.213 second around the 1/4 mile which was a new track record. The wingless super sportsman, a 358 engined car with self starters which raced for years at Silver Springs with wings, were the support class and brought 19 cars to the clash. One of their heats were run before the National Anthem was played (odd order of events) with Carmen Perigo winning. The other two heats were run after the three USAC midget heats were spun off with Bill Brian Jr. and John Wolfe scoring wins. Tyler Courtney won heat one of the midgets with Spencer Bayston blasting from fourth to second on the last lap with Ryan Greth taking third. Heat two saw Justin Grant score the second straight heat win for the Clauson/Marshall team with Brett Arndt second and Chad Boat third. The third heat saw new entrant, Tim Buckwalter, in the Seymour Enterprises car out of Massachusetts, taking top honors over a pressuring Tanner Thorson and his teammate, Holly Shelton.


     

    The skies began to cloud even more as the 30 lap USAC midget feature was called to the post with the green flag waving at 8:15. Brayton Lynch powered to the early lead and led the first nine laps before Tanner Thorson made a nifty move passing both Lynch and Brady Bacon down the backstretch to assume the lead. The leaders encountered lap traffic with 13 to go and that was when things got real interesting. On lap 20 Thorson dove low in turn four to clear Shawn Jackson while Bacon went high to pass Jackson entering turn one. Contact between the two saw Jackson spinning to bring out the first caution. On the restart Bacon and Thorson took turns throwing slide jobs at one another until five to go when Bacon dove low in turn three sliding across in front of Thorson who countered in turn four forcing Bacon over the cushion and into a half stall with fourth running Spencer Bayston having no where to go jumping Bacon's right rear and flipping over twice. Once back underway Thorson retained the lead but now Tyler Courtney was in hot pursuit. Coming for the checkered in turn three Courtney made his move diving low making contact with Thorson as he slid up the banking sending Thorson into a spin in turn four with his car standing on his tail in the process. The two had raced hard earlier with Courtney ending up above the cushion in four continuing but losing several positions and the move at the end might have been a payback for the earlier confrontation. Justin Grant running fourth at the time did not have the luck he did on Sunday slamming into the rear of third running Chad Boat and dumping his car end over end in the mishap. On the restart new leader, Courtney, stumbled on the cushion in turn one allowing second running Boat to easily pull off his slider exiting turn two. Courtney made one last attempt entering turn three coming for the checkered but wasn't close enough to make a serious run with Boat flashing under the checkered at 8:41 scoring the win over Courtney with PA runner, Ryan Greth, scoring his first national podium finish in third. Holly Shelton claimed fourth with Brayton Lynch holding on for fifth. The second five was led by Tim Buckwalter in the Seymour midget grabbing sixth in a good run with Tanner Carrick seventh, Brett Arndt eighth, Bacon coming back for ninth and Landon Simon rounding out the top ten. The win for Boat was his fifth career USAC National midget win with all his victories coming in the month of August. Well, Reggie Jackson of major league baseball was known as Mr. October then Chad Boat could be called Mr. August for his performances in this month. There was still a 30 lap wingless super sportsman feature to run as the sky started to spit some rain droplets. The green waved just ten minutes after the midget checker and even though there were six cautions in this one when they were racing the action was good in this one. Tony Jackson scored the win at 9:19 with veteran Carmen Perigo coming home second with Derek Sheaffer third, Craig Perigo fourth and Steve Wilbur fifth. We were fortunate on this evening with the rain as when we traveled east on the PA Turnpike toward Carlisle we noticed many areas of the highway and the shoulders where you could tell that rain had passed through these areas. Maybe Mother Nature owed us one after the miserable weather we all had last year for this week.


     

    Until the next installment where we continue on the Eastern swing of the USAC midgets here in Pennsylvania take care and get out there and catch some good short track racing in your area. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always we appreciate everyone reading our column.

     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Racing or Lack Of It At Shadyhill & Action At Lincoln Park

    Friday, August 4 - With Bloomington having the next two Fridays off we looked for somewhere to go to get our racing fix. Shadyhill Speedway, a 1/4 mile dirt oval in Medaryville, an 1 1/2 straight north from us looked to be the one to fit our bill. They were offering free admission to their special Friday night show (they normally run UMP modifieds on Saturdays) that would consist of midgets and two classes of 600 cc mini sprints, one running with wings and the other without wings. We arrived plenty early at 4:30 to find about 20 other people milling about. According to their website hot laps were scheduled for 6 but only afterwards did we find on their Facebook page that warmups were scheduled for 7 this evening. Our thoughts are that more people will check a track's website before sifting through a track's Facebook page and tracks should keep their website up to date (unlike Shadyhill's website which was still advertising last week's races) so the majority of visitors can know what is going on. The weather out here took a turn for the colder with the temperature showing 64 degrees on the weather website with feels like temperature of 56 degrees. Also it was overcast with many ominous clouds passing over nearby but this did not seem to stir a sense of urgency in track management to move the program along at an increased pace. Hot laps commenced at 7:15 with the two midgets (didn't expect many with Belleville & Pevely both running but certainly expected more than two), and ten wingless mini sprints and ten winged mini sprints but four or five of those were doing double duty racing in both classes so the grand total was around 16 for three classes. After the first set of hot laps (Yes, I said first set) the announcer proclaimed that they would run a second set as the drivers had never driven on this track before. In the first hot lap session each division was given around eight laps which we feel was more than enough to dial their cars in for the heat races and the second session was needless. Nonetheless the second session was completed around 8 and the announcer proclaimed that the driver's meeting would now take place. What??? Why didn't they use the time between 6:30 and 7 to have the driver's meeting and not after hot laps. By 8:20 Justin Peck was driving his midget down the entrance ramp between turns three and four with the American flag in hand for the National Anthem. Well, wouldn't you know it, the rain came and stopped all on track activities. Pat went out to the car parked nearby and grabbed two big umbrellas but not before the rain had started to come down heavier. So now I was wet and cold as the wind picked up and it was about 8:35 when the rain stopped. The best thing of the evening occurred next (no they did not cancel) as a beautiful double rainbow appeared off the backstretch which was amazing!! Track drying began slightly before 9 and continued for at least the next 30 minutes. We don't know what time the racing began as we decided to cut our losses (only gas money and food at this point) and call it an evening as the final nail in the coffin were the two Saturday night regulars standing behind us talking. The one said to the other that she did not arrive home last Saturday until 2:30 Central Time while the other fellow who lived in Eastern Time announced that he arrived home at 3 AM. Sorry but being at the race track (no rain on that Saturday) that long is not my idea of fun and after seeing the lack of a sense of urgency by track management tonight we weren't about to find out how long this program was going to take before it was finally completed!! This coming Friday is a MSCS wingless sprint car show with one other division and we can only hope they run it better than this one. I know two people that will not be there this Friday!! Can you guess who?

    Saturday, August 5 - The original plan was to use our rainchecks from the BOSS sprint car rainout early in the year at Lawrenceburg tonight but the 2 1/2 hour drive wasn't appealing and we decided instead to make the short 40 minute drive south on US 231 to beautiful downtown Putnamville to visit the Lincoln Park Speedway. We understood going in that the sprint car field would be lean as not only Lincoln Park was running but also Lawrenceburg, Haubstadt with MSCS and Waynesfield with BOSS. Twenty one sprinters pulled into Lincoln Park with the biggest surprise being Mitch Wissmiller from Illinois bypassing Haubstadt to tow over to LPS. We also understood that the evening had the distinct possibility of being longer than usual as three makeup features from a partial rainout on July 22nd would start out the evening's action. The makeup super stock feature was the first action of the evening taking the green flag at 7:17. They cooperated and spun off their 20 lapper in only nine minutes with just two cautions. The first of two bomber features was next up and the first one went non-stop 15 laps in just four minutes. The second bomber feature took slightly longer at seven minutes with one caution but you can't complain when 45 laps of feature racing were spun off in 40 minutes with just three cautions total. At this point promoter, Joe Spiker, and his crew were not quite happy with the narrow racing surface and went to work to remedy the situation. A half hour later they were done and the first of three sprint car heats took Brian Hodde's green flag. Tim Creech looked strong in winning heat one over fast closing Jon Stanbrough in the Paul #24P this evening charging from seventh to claim the runnerup position with Travis Berryhill bringing the Wingo #77s home third. Heat two saw fourth starting Billy Cribbs hang it up on the cushion to grab the win over Mitch Wissmiller and AJ Hopkins in the Ottinger #4J. Heat three saw new Columbus, Ohio resident, Brent Beauchamp, dominate this one winning over veteran Kent Christian and Crawfordsville's own Chad Davenport. The UMP modifieds spun off three good, competitive heats before the super stocks and bombers ran their heat races. Only the modifieds needed a B main and by 9:53 it was time for the 25 lap sprint car feature.

    Brent Beauchamp wasted no time going to the point grabbing the lead from fourth on the opening lap and distancing himself from the rest of the field. Billy Cribbs brought out an early caution looping it in turn two on lap 6 with only one other caution slowing the action. Though a race for the lead never materialized the action further back more than made up for the domination by Beauchamp. Kent Christian, third starting Jon Stanbrough and eighth starting AJ Hopkins battled with each other throughout the entire main event with Hopkins making a nifty outside move in traffic late in the event to wrestle second from Stanbrough who was momentarily trapped down low. Beauchamp flashed under Hodde's checkered flag at 10:05 winning over Hopkins with Stanbrough claiming the show position. Nate McMillen came from tenth to secure fourth with Matt McDonald also making a strong run advancing from eleventh to fifth at the finish. We decide to stay for the 20 lap UMP modified feature next up with Cole Parker scoring the win over seventh starting Kenny Carmichael Jr. and Rob Brickert. The 20 lap super stock feature was next to the post with Steve Peeden, the UMP national points leader, dominating winning over makeup feature winner, Jonny Newgent. This one was over by 11 PM and a tip of the hat to the LPS staff in presenting a well run program on this evening. Other tracks (see above) could take some lessons from this full well executed show extremely well.

    Sunday, August 6 - At the beginning of the weekend the chances of seeing a race at Kokomo on Sunday looked slim. But that was Friday and it was now Sunday and the forecast changed about a hundred times in that three day period. By the time we left for Kokomo around 4 PM the rain prediction had dropped to 15% for the entire evening. Tonight was the Bob Darland Memorial held in honor of Dave Darland's father, a former racer himself and car owner for his son in his early career. In a class act Dave went around the pit area to each of the competitors racing tonight and thanked them for attending the races tonight to honor his father!! A field of 27 sprint cars, 21 midgets and 6 hornets were parked in the pit area ready to tackle the 3/8 mile of fine Indiana real estate. The three sprint car heats kicked off the show at 6:53 with Tyler Thomas becoming the third different driver in two weeks to buckle into the seat of the Dutcher #17GP promptly going out and winning heat one over Dave Darland and Robert Ballou. Heat two found Chris Windom in a new Baldwin Brothers #5 (after flipping the previous weekend at the USAC stop at Moberly) scoring the win over Kyle Cummins taking a ride in the Pollick #21X on the evening with Justin Grant bringing the McGhee #11 home third. Chad Boespflug drove the Cincinnati based Hoffman #69 home first in this one besting Nick Bilbee and Kyle Robbins. The midget heats were next up and were good ones with Ray Search from Wisconsin, Chris Windom and Justin Peck claiming victories. Ray Smith won the lone hornet heat. All qualifying was completed by 7:54 when the sprint car B main was checkered with home town driver, Shane Cottle, winning over Logan Jarrett, Scotty Weir in the Gass #17 tonight, Corey Smith and Travis Berryhill punching the last ticket to the big dance. After minimal track prep the sprint car feature was called to the grid.

    The busy Brian Hodde waved the green flag at 8:23 on the twenty car starting field. Chris Windom shot to the lead at the start and the race was on. Cummins, Boespflug, Darland, Thomas and Bilbee gave chase. From our vantage point on the top row of the new backstretch high rise grandstands we marveled at the racing through turns three and four where the field was three and four wide, two and three rows in tow. The first caution appeared on lap 12 when Logan Jarrett spun in turn four. Jarrett hit the wall in turn one on lap 19 to bring out the caution and bunch the field back up. One lap late Chad Boespflug caught and passed Windom for the lead with a slider in turn one and looked to be a strong candidate to win the $3000 on the line. Lap 26 saw Boespflug bobble and almost spin exiting turn four on the bottom with Dave Darland taking advantage and roaring around the outside for the lead. Lap 29 saw Jarret Andretti in his new Weld sponsored blue #1 catch the homestretch wall and slow before pulling into the infield. Darland was probably on edge on the restart but handled int smoothly motoring against the cushion and flying under the checkered flag at 8:37 winning his second Bob Darland Memorial. It was a very emotional win for the 50 year old driver who teamed with his father and won 100 features together in the family owned #36D. He exited the car to the applause of the crowd on hand and pumped his arms in the air celebrating a win that meant so much to him. Boespflug came home second with Robert Ballou coming from seventh to third, Chris Windom dropping to fourth and Tyler Thomas rounding out the top five. Justin Grant led the second five with Shane Cottle in a good run moving from 16th to 7th with Kyle Cummins eighth, Scotty Weir in an impressive run advancing from 18th to 9th and CJ Leary rounding out the top ten.

    We still had the 20 lap midget feature to go with Justin Peck going out front at the start. Kent Christian doing double duty also looped the #38 in turn two on lap 7 to bring out the first caution. Justin Dickerson turned over in turn two a few laps later bringing out the caution and he was OK after the hard tumble. Chris Windom nipped Peck at the start/finish line to end lap 10 for the lead and would survive three more cautions and one red for a hard flip by Jon Watson in turn two before holding off a late challenge by Chase Jones. Peck settled for third at the finish with Kyle O'Gara fourth and Aaron Leffel fifth overall and first in the D2 midget division which run with the regular midgets in the Indiana series between Kokomo and Montpelier. This one was done by 9:22 and we decided to head for the exits and the 1 1/2 hour ride back to Crawfordsville satisfied with another good and well run program at the baddest bullring in Indiana.

    Next column will find us working our way back East taking a baseball stop in Fort Wayne on Friday and a race stop in Mansfield, Ohio on Saturday before heading to night one of the USAC midget East swing into Pennsylvania where we are praying for much better weather than last year. Until next time take care, be safe and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or somewhere on the road. And as always thanks for reading.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Indiana Trifecta At Bloomington, Lincoln Park & Kokomo

    Friday, July 28 - It was off to the red clay hills of Bloomington for some racing action for the evening. We didn't expect a high number of wingless sprints as Rt. 44 was running a BOSS sprint show and the USAC boys were off to Kansas and Missouri for the weekend. They did manage to draw 16 sprints to go along with 16 super stocks, 15 hornets and 23 winged MMSA mini sprints. The action started early as Kendall Ruble went for a hairy ride flipping off turn one during warmups not quite getting the distance that AJ Hopkins did a few weeks ago but ending his evening very early. Racing began at 7:37 with only two sprint heats with Brady Short taking heat one over Casey Shuman at the controls of the Krockenberger #21K tonight after his WAR sprint group was flooded out early at Valley Speedway and Jordan Kinser. Heat two was exciting as Ethan Barrow edged Jeff Bland Jr. by inches to take the win with Thomas Meseraull bringing the Chase Briscoe #5 home third. Three heats were needed for the MMSA mini sprints and each was competitive with Bloomington North graduate, Cindy Chambers, winning heat one. Howard McCormick bagged heat two with Rod Henning scoring heat three. No B mains were needed and all qualifying was completed by 8:34.

    There was little down time with the 25 lap sprint car feature called to the post at 8:49. The track had built up quite a good cushion in the turns and as the green flag waved the entire field went up top and rode the cushion. Brady Short took full advantage of his second starting position and went to the lead after the initial false start when first starting Ethan Barrow jumped the start. Short would never be headed in this one with minimal passing throughout the field. Every track has this type of night once in a while and tonight it occurred here at Bloomington. Fourth starting Jeff Bland Jr. finished second with sixth starting Thomas Meseraull claiming third with Ethan Barrow finishing fourth and Casey Shuman rounding out the top five. Only a Lee Underwood spin in turn two on lap three slowed this contest which was completed in nine minutes. After the sprints the remaining features picked up in quality with Jamey Wilson winning over Steve Peeden and Aubrey Eagan in the super stocks. The hornet feature might have been the best race with many position changes and good battles with Donnie Modesty prevailing. The last feature of the evening with the mini sprints produced the best finish of the night when Rod Henning used a last lap, last turn pass of longtime leader, Justin Lewis, to steal this win with Drew Dorsett a close third with Jesse Vermillion fourth and Dave Dorsett rounding out the top five with the final checker waving at 10:14. Not a slew of cars in any division but an efficiently run show had people on the road at a good hour.

    Saturday, July 29 - In the late afternoon we decided to take in a Midwest Cross Country Racing (MWXC) event featuring the UTV's at Parkers Paradise near Crawfordsville, our home town. The one hour main event was scheduled to kick off at 5 but a medical emergency with one of the previous race's motocross riders necessitated a medivac helicopter to be brought in to remove the injured rider. This caused the race to be delayed an hour before starting. The nearly three mile course went through many wooded areas making it difficult to view. Twenty two UTV's split into three divisions made their land rush starts and off they went. Matt Rowell won the pro open division while Jayson Frazier won the heavy 900 cc division and Michael Plank claimed the lite 800 cc division.

    This caused us to arrive late at our Saturday night destination of the Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville missing the three sprint heats and two of the three modified heats before we settled in for the evening. We were glad we came as the sprint car feature turned out to be a classic. More on that later. The MMSA mini sprints running wingless tonight joined the normal four division program of wingless sprints, UMP modifieds, super stocks and bombers on this evening. Even though the mini sprints ran their heats last they had a quick turnaround of their 15 car field and were called to the post first for their 20 lap feature. It was a good run with only one caution and taking just 10 minutes before last night's runnerup, Justin Lewis, scored his second win of the year over Scott Bradley, Illinois invader, Mitchell Davis, Cody Trammell and Jesse Vermillion. Next up on the docket was the 30th running of the Putnamville Clash paying $3000 to win to the driver who crossed the line first. The green waved at 9:30 with first starting Dave Darland in the Michael Dutcher #17 tonight after the Hery #40 had engine woes the previous night and having him switch plans from Lawrenceburg to here to run. Tonight Lincoln Park built up the biggest cushion we have seen all year and the veteran Darland worked the cushion to perfection. Darland led the first nine laps until Jeff Bland Jr. in the Waltz #18W (usually ran as a 305 at Bloomington) working the low, low side to perfection passing Darland for the lead exiting turn four on lap 10. It didn't last long as Darland grabbed the lead back the next lap. Through the entire middle stages of the contest Darland and Bland went at it tooth and nail running side by side lap after lap even switching lines for a five lap stretch with Bland getting too close for comfort with Darland returning to the top. While this classic battle was unfolding fifth starting Thomas Meseraull was making up big chunks of real estate pounding the cushion and joining the battle which expanded to three cars now. Two late cautions on lap 21 and 27 stacked up things and put the pressure on Darland on the restarts. Meseraull worked his way past Bland for second around lap 25 and was all over Darland on the last restart. Meseraull attempted two sliders on Darland entering turns two and four in the last two laps but couldn't quite pull them off and backed out. Darland flashed under the checkered at 9:47 beating out Meseraull and Bland. Brent Beauchamp placed fourth and Dakota Jackson scored a top five. This race is a prime example of whey we moved to Indiana to watch wingless sprint racing. It was awesome!!! Darland was very excited in victory lane as the checkers are not as many for the 50 year old driver as in the past but he sure can still do it on any given night and the fans truly appreciated it. The story behind Darland running the Dutcher #17 was interesting as Dutcher was involved in an auto accident with his toter truck over a week ago and currently does not have a hauler to carry his sprinter in. Darland realized that the Hery car would not be ready for

    Lawrenceburg's BOSS show so he placed a call to Dutcher with the two teaming up for the evening with Darland lining up a trailer to haul the #17 in and the rest is history as they say.

    Sunday, July 30 - It was a beautiful day for a race. The sky was bright blue, the temperatures were in the mid 80's and our favorite track was running. Kokomo Speedway was running the Kokomo Klassic that was rained out the previous week and we decided on the way over we were going to try the new grandstand on the backstretch. We arrived early at 4:00 and were able to get top row seats in the new stands. Wow! What a different view. First off you are up much higher and you can see the entire track from the inside berm to the stripes on the corner walls. No they are not painted stripes. They are stripes made by scrapping the clay nuggets off the walls so the drivers can tell where the track stops and the walls begin. Seeing the cars being pushed off was in the pits was something you never saw before. Aside from all of the track and pits views you never saw before there was one big item missing. The sun in your eyes. When on the homestretch the sun sets over turn two and the sun does not go down until after 9:00 in the summer so the sun is always a factor when watching a race at Kokomo, but not if you are sitting on the backstretch.

    USAC was running in Missouri so you knew the car count would be down, but keep in mind this race was not scheduled for this date. It was rained out last Sunday. There were 22 sprints, 14 midgets and 6 hornets. There was no need for any B mains. It would be heats and features with the sprints running three, midgets running two and only one for the hornets. I thought tonight they might not even need to turn on the track lights. The first heat was won by Thomas Meseraull in the Dutcher 17. Yes that is the same car that Dave Darland drove to victory Saturday night at Lincoln Park. Darland was back in the Hery #40. T-Mez won over Max McGhee and Logan Jarrett. Heat two went to Shane Cottle over Billy Cribbs and Josh Spencer with Dave Darland picking up heat three at the line over Colten Cottle and Travis Hery. Justin Peck and Justin Dickerson picked up the midget heat wins. The hornet heat followed and at 7:40 all that was left were the features. Intermission followed and for some reason tonight it seemed longer than usual. At 8:31 the green dropped on the 30 lap Kokomo Klassic and Max McGhee sprung to the lead. That was short lived when on lap 2 he jumped the cushion coming out of two and the car nearly stopped. The view of this from the backstretch was unbelievable. It almost looked like everyone was going to stop. For a moment the cars slowed, jumbled up and then Dave Darland shot through the middle of the scramble and into the lead. I am sure that move looked awesome from the seats on the homestretch but from the backstretch it was jaw dropping. Racing continued until Travis Hery did a Tommy Tip-over in turn 2 around lap 10. On the restart it was Darland, McGhee, T-Mez and S. Cottle. Once racing resumed the action among the top 4 was fast and furious. McGhee was all over Darland and slid pass him in two to take the lead down the backstretch. Darland would have no part of it as he slid him back in turn three and four. A few laps later McGhee, T-Mez and Cottle exited turn four running three wide. With only a handful of laps left McGhee’s bid for the win ended when his #17 came to a halt in turn 2. We would later learn that the #17 ran out of gas. When racing resumed there was a lapped car between Darland and T-Mez and Darland was able to motor to his second win in as many days. The People’s Champ once again found himself in victory lane. Two wins in two different cars in two days. No one was disappointed.

    The midget feature was next and it ran non-stop with Justin Peck handily picking up the win. He lapped all but position two, three and four. Even though it was only 9:10 we decided to leave and not watch the hornet race. Maybe a lot of the big names were not on hand tonight but those who were put on one hell of a feature. The crowd that I thought looked down, was on the homestretch, but up until a few weeks ago there were no backstretch seats. If you would have taken everyone from the backstretch and put them on the homestretch it would have been a decent crowd. I have a feeling as more fans try the new seats they too will migrate to the back. The racing turned out to be as good as the accompanying weather.

    Until next time where local races seem to be on the agenda for this weekend get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Outlaw Karts & Sprints In Indiana & Illinois

    Tuesday, July 18 - We are in the middle of a heat wave here in the Midwest and as hot it as we decided to go to the Hendricks County Fair and take in the sights and some outlaw kart racing at the arena at the fair. Indy Race Parts are trying hard to bring outlaw kart racing to Indiana and we appreciate their efforts. The outlaw karts are very big in California and also in North Carolina but not much else anywhere else in the country. They are fun to watch and must be fun to run when you have drivers like Tyler Courtney, Damion Gardner, Joey Saldana Brinton Marvel and Tanner Thorson show up on a hot Tuesday night to race at Hendricks County. For this venue to be successful in the midwest two things are needed, more cars racing and better organization from the Indy Outlaw Kart group. You have to remember you only have one chance to make a first impression and especially when you are running an event at a county fair you must run the program like a fine tuned watch. That means starting on time and running a quick paced program that will bring the curious in and get them back out in a timely manner to enjoy the fair after watching a good race. That did not happen on Tuesday and we think the organizers who are planning to run a bi-weekly show at Hendricks County starting next month missed a golden opportunity to bring in a new base of fans to watch their racing if the program was short and snappy. The scheduled starting time for the racing was 7 PM and it was not until 7:45 when the first green flew on the first open outlaw kart heat. And with only 9 open outlaw karts and 3 250cc outlaw karts along with 1 box stock there was no need to run two sets of heats for each class and not start the first feature until 9 PM. On this night only run one set of heats, do some track maintenance and get the features on the track quickly. If you start on time (7PM) and run one set of heats and two features the entire show could have been over by 9 PM with the fans returning to the fair having time to enjoy both activities. We noticed USAC race director, Levi Jones, and his family sitting in the stands and leaving after a while to return to the fair never witnessing the feature events. That might be a good indication that the show was too long. Believe me I am not trying to bash the Indy Kart organization but only trying to give some good, sound advice on how to attract fans, both new and old, to their future shows. We would love to see them become successful and bring a new form of racing to the area and attract new, young drivers to participate.

    To the show itself, Tanner Thorson and Damion Gardner took the two open outlaw kart heats while Carson and Caden Kvapil, 14 and 10 year old sons of NASCAR racer Travis, won the 250 cc heats. The 20 lap 250 cc outlaw kart feature took the green at 9 PM and had only one caution taking only four minutes to run. Carson Kvapil dominated winning over his brother, Caden, and Reece Saldana, older son of Joey Saldana. The open outlaw kart feature was not as cleanly run with five cautions slowing the action in this 20 lapper. Tanner Thorson ending up winning this one from third with teammate, Damion Gardner, second after starting fourth with Carson Kvapil doing double duty finishing third with Kenneth Cross fourth and Brinton Marvel rounding out the top five with the final checker waving at 9:34.

    Friday, July 21 - Tonight was a trip over into the Land of Lincoln to attend the Champaign County Fair where they were running a WAR East wingless sprint and POWRi D2 midget program on the 1/4 mile oval located at the fairgrounds. It was extremely hot when we arrived with the temperature reading 97 degrees and the heat index hitting 111 degrees!!! We had a little problem figuring out where to park for the races and finally were directed to a parking lot near the entrance of the fair. We walked part of the midway over to the large covered grandstand that ran the entire length of the homestretch and secured a seat with good viewing lines avoiding the poles holding up the roof and being able to clearly see the entire race track. The poles also had fans on them which helped with the oppressive heat. One level of concrete barriers were set up as walls in part of the turns and the entire homestretch and backstretch but an area of concern was no protection (no fencing of any kind separating the track from the pits) for the race teams pitted off of turns three and four. In fact during the sprint feature one car flipped off of turn four halfway distance to the parked rigs sitting there. That is a big area of concern that should be looked into before next year if they are going to have the event again.

    Action got underway at 7:06 with the first of four heats for the 26 car field of WAR East sprints on hand. Steve Thomas would take heat one over Korey Weyant and Bret Tripplett. Heat two saw Chris Windom in his second WAR start of the year winning over Justin Grant and Jerry Coons Jr. Heat three saw Landon Simon wow the fans with a run from fifth to win this one over Wade Seiler and Tommy Rockwell. Heat four saw "super" Mario Clouser take the win over Mitch Wissmiller and Terry Babb. The sprint heats were spun off in 21 minutes on a track that was somewhat dusty in turns one and two but fine everywhere else. The track crew worked hard on the surface and by feature time it was in good shape. A disappointing six car field was on hand for the D2 midgets with Jack Routson taking their only heat race. Some track maintenance was done and by 8 PM the sprint car B main was trackside. Cameron Knell would score the win and move to the feature event.

    The 15 lap D2 midget feature would be the first to the post with the green flying at 8:09. For six cars it was a competitive race with Jack Routson prevailing over a fast closing Brad Greenup and Wyatt Teare. All that was left was the 25 lap WAR East feature with the front row of Mitch Wissmiller and Mario Clouser bringing 18 of their friends to the green flag at 8:43. The race quickly went to red when Chris Parkinson dumper his sprinter in turn one on the initial start. He was OK and shortly thereafter it was back to green. Mario Clouser went to the front and would lead the first lap until Cameron Knell flipped into the pit area off turn four was no injuries incurred. Clouser went back to the lead on the restart as Mitch Wissmiller dropped out with mechanical woes at this point. Clouser looked strong and would lead until turn four on lap 14 when third starting Chris Windom passed him for the top spot. Windom began to stretch the lead as Clouser and Babb battled for second. Seventh starting Justin Grant was picked off cars in the latter stages of the race. As Clouser and Babb negotiated lap traffic Babb made contact with one of the lap cars leaving enough room for Grant to sneak by for third. As the checkered waved at 9:11 it was Windom in for his second win in two WAR appearances with Clouser second, Grant third, Terry Babb fourth and Landon Simon rounding out the top five. It was a decent night of racing and it was nice to see racing return to a venue which used to have racing there on a half mile oval which you could still see outside the 1/4 mile oval . We were glad we made the slightly over an hour drive to take in this event.

    Saturday, July 22 - Normally we arrive at Lincoln Park around 5:00 but today we were in no hurry to leave the house. With temperatures still in the 90's and a heat index at 100+ it was hot. As a matter of fact some tracks canceled due to the heat. Then there was that constant threat of thunderstorms and in Indiana that seems to be a daily occurrence. Today we would leave an hour later and we pulled onto the grounds at 6:00 and the crowd was sparse. I was surprised when we walked into the stands and there was next to no one there. Everyone must have felt as we did because by the time hot laps started the stands started to fill up and even though down from the norm it was good considering the weather.

    The sprint car count was down a bit with 17 sprints, 27 modifieds, 14 pro stocks and 31 bombers. In total they ran 12 qualifying heats and went right into the B mains, which were only needed for the modifieds and bombers. All this time the fans were not only watching the action on the track but also watching the black clouds and flashes of lightning to our south. If you wanted to see blue skies you needed to look north and here we were in the middle. Thankful to not have the baking sun on us but happy we did not need to take cover from the lightning. By 9:20 all qualifying was complete and management did not waste time calling out the sprints for their main event. It was amazing how the weather to our south looked a lot more threatening once the sun went down and darkness started to set in.

    The sprint feature took the green at 9:28 and I being a Kevin Thomas Jr. fan thought he would move quickly to the lead from his second row starting position. But KTJ dropped back to 5th while his second row partner, AJ Hopkins, jumped to the lead. KTJ was able to battle back to 2nd but had Jeff Bland Jr. to contend with. There was only one caution and that came out on lap 16 for a spin in turn four. This bunched up the front three but Hopkins was never really challenged as he went on to win the event. KTJ and Bland had a good race for second in the final circuits with KTJ coming out in second and Bland settling for third. Pole sitter Jerry Coons Jr. finished fourth and Brandon Mattox rounded out the top five. The race took less than 10 minutes to run.

    At this time we decided to stay for the modifieds but pack up the folding chairs in the event we had to make a fast exit as it started to feel like rain. The modified feature was quick. It went non-stop and was over in less than 6 minutes. It was also a very good race. Kenny Wallace made a visit to LPS and he started on the pole but he did not run away with the event. He worked for the win and the racing between Wallace, Josh Boller and Jacoby Hines was some of the best of the night. Wallace who is always an exciting interview sounded tired as he thanked the Indiana fans for coming out in the heat. We decided to watch the pro stock feature as it was only 10:00 when the green dropped but soon after the rain started to fall and we hightailed it toward the car. Both the pro stock and bomber features were rained out. But hats off to Joe Spiker and crew for taking a risk on a night when other tracks were canceling due to the heat or the rain. They took a chance and the fans took a chance on them by supporting the show. Although it was hot as Hades I was happy we went.

    Sunday, July 23 - After coming back from church we logged onto the Internet and found out that heavy rain had rolled through the Kokomo area in the morning forcing them to call their racing activities for the evening due to saturated grounds. Later in the afternoon while watching the Brickyard 400 on TV a weather alert came on with a tornado warning for the Kokomo area and eastward. At that point it really seemed like the correct call had been made on the night of racing. The Kokom Klash is rescheduled for this coming Sunday.

    That's it for another typical weekend of racing from us and we hope you enjoy reading these efforts as much as we enjoy writing them for you. So until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. This weekend will find reports from Bloomington, Lincoln Park, Kokomo and a new venue thrown into the mix. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Bloomington, Tri-State & Lincoln Park Wrap Up A Rough Indiana Sprint Week

    This year's Indiana Sprint Week did not come without a lot of problems for USAC, the drivers and crews and the fans. Rain plagued the seven nights of racing over two weekends starting with the opener being rained out last Friday at Gas City. Monday night's raindate for Gas City brought more iffy weather though they did get it in with some yeoman work from the promoters, USAC and the drivers and crews. Unfortunately for the O'Connors the weather and other factors kept the crowd way down from the original Friday night date and surely was a financial loser for them. Wednesday was another day lost to the torrential rains that engulfed the Vigo County Fairgrounds in Terre Haute accompanied by strong winds which knocked down branches, limbs and entire trees casting the south side of Terre Haute into darkness. The rain returned on Thursday ruining the night of promoter, Joe Spiker, at Lincoln Park. Finally the weekend looked clear for the final three at Bloomington, Tri-State and the rescheduled one at Lincoln Park on Sunday. Pat and I also suffered through some trying times during this week plus also with illness and plane delays playing prominent in our racing plans. Sit back and read what transpired over the final four days of the 30th Indiana Sprint Week for the USAC sprint cars and enjoy.

    Thursday, July 13 - The weather again was a factor tonight at Putnamville, the home of the Lincoln Park Speedway, the 5/16 mile dirt track located just north of I-70. The forecast looked good for most of the day until a large green and yellow blob appeared west of Putnamville with dead aim on the track around 5:30. Thunder soon was heard and shortly thereafter drops of rain hit our windshield. The drops turned to a steady downpour and the plug was pulled for the evening with the race being rescheduled as the final on Sunday evening. I dropped off Pat later at the Indianapolis Airport as she had to make a business related emergency flight back to New Jersey on Friday morning to sooth some ruffled feathers of one of their largest school accounts before returning in the same afternoon to be picked up and shuffled off to Bloomington for Friday's action.

    Friday, July 14 - I knew the day was not going to go well when I received a call in the late morning from Pat telling me that her afternoon flight out of Newark, New Jersey had been canceled due to the imminent arrival of President Trump into the same airport. Yes, you can say she was trumped by Trump!!! Since there was no alternate flights out of Newark on that day she diverted to Philadelphia where a connector flight would get her back from Chicago to Indianapolis at midnight. Scratch one of us for a Bloomington Friday night. I left the house at 3 and arrived at the 1/4 mile red clay oval at Bloomington at 5. A good parking space was secured and off it was to the pit shack to sign in and then take the hike up the steep hill to place my lawn chair high in turn one on the hill in front of the walkway. Then everyone had to clear the grandstand area so the front gate and ticket booth could be opened for business. I decided to take a stroll through the pit area taking in the sights and sounds that can only be experienced in that venue. Then it was back to the grandstand side and my seat and a cold water to enjoy the stories of Donald Davidson, Richie Murray and Pat Sullivan about Sheldon Kinser. About fifteen minutes later I developed a sharp pain in my lower stomach and headed for the restroom for relief. Upon entering the concrete pill box structure I was almost floored by the heat (must have been close to 100 inside) but when nature calls you must do what you must do. Close to a half hour later I was still in the bathroom drenched in sweat and not feeling particularly well. A nice man summoned the EMT's for me and they arrived giving me oxygen and cold compresses and loaded me into the ambulance for a ride to Indiana University Bloomington Hospital for a visit to the emergency room. After spending four hours on a hallway gurney and going through a battery of tests it was determined that I was suffering from dehydration. So a phone call to our buddy, Phil Meyer, at the track had him retrieving my chair, cooler and writing pad from turn one. Scratch person two from a Friday night at Bloomington Speedway. During the course of the evening I witnessed the arrival of AJ Hopkins who took a nasty ride during the B main over turns one and two and clearing the chain link fence along the roadway visiting a couple of pickup trucks parked on the other side. Hopkins was released the next day which was good news and I was released by 11 PM, just in time to grab a yellow cab and return to the emptying grounds to retrieve my car and scoot out to the airport to pick up Pat which I was able to do by 12:40. It sure was a bad day for us both as neither one of us was able to watch Kevin Thomas Jr. win at Bloomington on this evening.

    Saturday, July 15 - Both of us slept in on Saturday and arose to a sunny day which lifted our spirits and I was feeling much better than the night before. We prepared a cooler to take with us (with plenty of water in it) and set off down Rt. 231 South toward Haubstadt where the Helfrich family in their 60th year prepare the fine black dirt at the Tri-State Speedway twelve times a year for fast and furious racing action and tonight would be no exception. We have never seen a finer prepared track with more farm equipment than any other track in the country. It is almost never dusty and is so tacky and racy that we wish it was about two hours closer than what it is. We arrived early around 3 and were directed by the sheriff's deputies to park in the grassy area behind the backstretch grandstands where a game of corn hole was being played in front of us after we parked. It was somewhat shady as we relaxed after placing our blanket down in the stands. By 6:23 it was time for the USAC National sprints to begin their time trials. Thirty five cars later it was Justin Grant being interviewed in the infield after setting fast time around the 1/4 mile at 13.362 seconds. Tom Helfrich was not totally satisfied by his racing surface and the crew went to work to bring it to perfection. By 7:32 the first of four heats took the green flag with sixth starting Justin Grant looking strong powering to the lead and taking heat one over Carson Short, Brody Roa and Tyler Courtney. Heat two saw New Mexico youngster, Josh Hodges, claiming the win over Brady Short, Thomas Meseraull and Kyle Cummins taking the last qualifying spot on the last lap passing Critter Malone which would turn out to be a very important pass. Jarett Andretti continues to impress winning heat three over Robert Ballou, Chad Boespflug and Ryan Bernal. Heat four saw 15 year old Florida driver, Tyler Clem, get caught up in a chain reaction in turn two and flipping over several times. Clem was OK and returned to run the B main. Kevin Thomas Jr. went to the pit area during the red and returned starting seventh on the restart. Thomas promptly marched to the front and scored the win over Chase Stockon, Chris Windom and Dakota Jackson. The UMP modifieds ran two heats for their 19 car field before the sprints returned for their B main with six going to the big dance. Critter Malone powered to the early lead from his fifth starting position and looked real good until the car rolled to a halt entering turn one. Dave Darland inherited the lead on the restart and fought off Jon Stanbrough, Donny Brackett, two time ISW winner, CJ Leary, Brian Karracker and Stephen Schnapf making his first USAC event in his first attempt. Schnapf is a former modified competitor and has already won a sprint car race at Chandler in his rookie season.

    The 30 lap USAC sprint car feature was ready to go green at 9:19 with the front row of Ryan Bernal and Kyle Cummins bringing the field to the green flag. Remember Cummins grabbed the last qualifying spot in heat two and with the top six times inverted he was second on the start. If Cummins had not qualified in his heat race the best he could have started qualifying through the B main would have been eighth. So you can see how important this pass was. Kevin Thomas Jr. started third and went to the front as they approached the flagger to complete lap one. Thomas seemed to be in control outracing the field with the exception of Cummins who was his constant shadow. Meanwhile behind the top two a race long epic battle was taking place among Thomas Meseraull, Justin Grant and Tyler Courtney. They swapped slide jobs and positions constantly with Grant finally establishing himself in third in the latter stages of the contest. The race went green until lap 27 when Donny Brackett spun to the inside of turn four to bring out the caution. On the restart Cummins tested the outside with Thomas remaining faithful to the bottom. Cummins pressured Thomas but was unable to make the pass as they exited turn four to run to the checkered Dave Darland blew his motor in turn two and instead of the checkered being displayed the yellow was waved. We both felt that the checkered should have been waved at that point as Darland was running tenth and everyone cleared him on the backstretch as he continued to roll along finally stopping in turn four well out of harm's way of the leaders. This gave Cummins a second chance and with the new USAC format the race must end in a green, white, checker format. So it was back to lap 28 instead of the race being over. On the restart Cummins made a diamond move entering turn two diving underneath Thomas entering turn three. Thomas came down to block and held off Cummins as the front two took the white flag. Cummins got a big run off turn two on the outside and pulled alongside Thomas down the backstretch and entering turns three and four. Thomas got in a little hard and tried to slide in front of Cummins in the final two corners. Thomas washed up a little high exiting turn four allowing Cummins to dive to the bottom and the drag race was on to the finish line with the two banging wheels at the top of the homestretch. At the line it was Cummins stealing the win over Thomas by two lengths with Courtney also sneaking by Grant on the final lap to take the last podium spot with Grant fourth and Meseraull rounding out the top five at 9:31. A very happy winner danced on his roll cage almost falling and jumped to the ground spiking his steering wheel onto the track in pure elation. It was a classic finish and had the crowd in a tizzy as the local Cummins scored the big win back in the Hank Byram #3R with the engine supplied by Cummins. It doesn't get much better than that!!

    Sunday, July 16 - It would all come down to the race tonight that would decide the champion of Indiana Sprint Week 30 with just 23 points separating the top two in the point's race, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Robert Ballou. On a beautiful evening at one of our favorite spots to watch a race (it doesn't get better than sitting in your lawn chair in the concrete grandstands with a cool drink in one hand and some munchies in the other) Thomas drew first blood by scoring an extra six points by setting fast time of 12.594 seconds around the 5/16 mile oval of Lincoln Park Speedway in beautiful downtown Putnamville. The three sprint car heats for the lowest car count of sprint week at 24 kicked off at 7:08 with Chris Windom taking heat one from the first spot winning over Brady Short, Jerry Coons Jr. in the Krockenberger #21K, Chad Boespflug and Kevin Thomas Jr. just barely getting into the top five. Heat two saw Josh Hodges from outside of the front row triumph over Ryan Bernal in one Michael Dutcher #17 with Dave Darland jumping into the other Dutcher #17 after mechanical woes shelved the Phillips #71P with Tyler Courtney and Jarett Andretti joining them in the feature. Robert Ballou got back a few points winning heat three outdistancing CJ Leary with Thomas Meseraull taking third after hopping badly in turn two losing the early lead. Brent Beauchamp came home fourth with Aaron Farney taking the last qualifying spot. The UMP modifieds were the second division on the card and ran three heats for their 17 car field before the B main was called to the track. Seven would advance from this one with Chase Stockon who had a rough week this week winning the B over Kyle Cummins, Kody Swanson in the Epperson #2E, Justin Grant, Tyler Thomas, Jon Stanbrough in the Wingo #77 and Nate McMillen punching his ticket to the prom. Only Kyle Robbins and first time USAC runner, Joe B. Miller of Missouri, being the only two not to advance.

    The 20 lap UMP modified feature would go first taking the green at 8:13 with Kenny Carmichael Sr., a former sprint car campaigner, taking the win as he did last year over Jeff Deckard and Tyler Rockmiller. The point's gap was still 23 as the 30 lap sprint car feature was about to begin with Robert Ballou and Aaron Farney bringing the field to the green at 8:40. Chad Boespflug in the Hoffman #69 went to the cushion on the opening lap and blasted from fourth into the lap off turn two on the opening lap. Ballou stuck to the bottom and hopped in turn four and did a wheel stand coming off the corner chasing after Boespflug. Ballou went to the point taking the lead off turn four on lap 2 and was where he wanted to be. Meanwhile Thomas was having his troubles bouncing from the outside berm and then to the inside berm as the car looked like it was having some problems but afterwards it turned out in the homestretch interview that it was the driver who was overly nervous and missing his marks and causing him to drop back out of the top eight where he had to finish to retain the point lead. Thomas ran up over Kyle Cummin's right rear going down the backstretch and almost launched himself off the backstretch. It was rough early going for Thomas but he calmed down and started to move forward again. Meanwhile Ballou was cruising up front and had the race well in hand. He was doing all he could do to wrestle the title away from Thomas. The man on the move was Brady Short who marched from tenth to third by the halfway mark and looked to be the fastest man out there. Short picked off Boespflug for second and became to close on Ballou. Lap 21 saw Thomas rally to sixth and take some of the pressure off himself. Two laps later CJ Leary's night ended early while running seventh when he caught the cushion in turn three wrong and dumped the Leary #30 over and was finished for the evening. On the restart Ballou jumped back out front with Tyler Courtney making his presence felt passing Short for second on the restart. Ballou continued to lead as the laps wound down until Tyler Thomas looped it in turn two with two to go. Boespflug passed Short for third on the restart as Thomas was in a happy place sitting in fifth. The remaining two laps went off without incident and Ballou flashed under the double checkers first with Courtney second, Boespflug third, Short fourth and Thomas rounding out the top five. Justin Grant led the second five with Josh Hodges making a furious charge from the rear to grab seventh at the line with Farney dropping to eighth after running around the top five the entire race with Chris Windom ninth and Dave Darland advancing from 17th to 10th at the finish.

    Thomas claimed the ISW point title by 11 points over Ballou with Courtney claiming third. Thomas sat in victory lane with his custom Bristol rocking chair built by John Youngs and a big check for $5000 for winning the sprint week title while Ballou celebrated his win tonight at LPS. It wasn't a great feature but it was a solid feature with some good racing throughout. Any night of racing this week without the chance of rain was a welcomed change and we were glad the Spikers ran the raindate though again as at Gas City the crowd was down but in this case it still should have been a money maker.

    Until next time where weekend plans have us venturing into Illinois on Friday to a new track for WAR sprints and D2 midgets and then local for the rest of the weekend. take care and be safe. Also get out there and see some good short track racing in your area or take a road trip and get out that National Speedway Directory to find that new gem you want to visit.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Rain Soaked Notes From Indiana Sprint Week

    Friday, July 7 - Opening night of the 30th Indiana Sprint Week for the USAC National midgets came to a screeching halt when rains hit the Gas City Speedway causing postponment of night one of the series. We monitored the situation from our living room in Crawfordsville and forecasts of heavy rains with high winds and large hail were predicted. The high winds and large hail stayed away but not the rain did not causing the rescheduling of Gas City to Monday night. Well, what can you do, onto Kokomo!!!

    Saturday, July 8 - The rain from Friday had also hit the Kokomo area hard and upon arrival at the track at 3:20 the after effects could be clearly seen in the parking areas as standing water was viewed everywhere. The O'Connor family did an yeoman job pumping out the excess water from many spots to allow the Indiana Sprint Week faithful to be able to attend now night one of the speed week activities. By 6:30 the sprint cars were packing the track under sunny, breezy skies with temperatures in the 80's and a full house was on hand including a nearly full new backstretch grandstand which increased the seating capacity to an all time high and this might have been the largest crowd we have ever seen at Kokomo. Bruce started talking with the gentleman next to him and found out that he was from Bridgewater, New Jersey where I am going for a meeting next Friday and found out that Dan McCollum was the grandfather of Alex McCollum, an accomplished legend car driver who Bruce recongized from reading the results in AARN. It turned out that Alex won his feature that evening in the Catskill Mountains of New York state at Bethel Motor Speedway this same evening. Hot laps opened festivities at 6:50 followed by time trials beginning at 7:12 for the fine field of 45 sprints on hand. By 7:40 time trials were concluded with Kevin Thomas Jr. setting fast time with a time of 13.050 seconds. The King of the TQ's/UMARA were the undercard class and they ran their hot laps next. By 8:15 the first of four sprint car heats were ready to go with the top six in time trials inverted for the heat racing which makes for much better racing than other handicapped formats provide. Heat one saw Jarett Andretti win over Kevin Thomas Jr. in his own #9K with Isaac Chapple third and Kody Swanson bringing the Epperson #2E home with the last qualifying position. Kyle Cummins scored heat two over Josh Hodges, Brent Beauchamp and Brady Short with Tyler Thomas and Justin Grant among others relegated to the B main. Heat three was won by CJ Leary holding off Ryan Bernal, the Californian in the Dutcher #17GP, Robert Ballou advancing from ninth to third with another California driver, Brody Roa, taking the fourth spot. Thomas Meseraull in the Chase Briscoe #5 dropped out of the event on lap 7 while running in third. The fourth and final heat went to the Baldwin Brothers #5 with Chris Windom at the keyboard winning over Carson Short, Chad Boespflug and Tyler Courtney with Dave Darland and Aaron Farney joining the stacked B main field. The TQ midgets ran off three heats and the sprints returned with a C main with Koby Barksdale winning and the top five advancing to the back of the B main. Thomas Meseraull took the semi over Brady Bacon, Dave Darland, Aaron Farney, AJ Hopkins in the Ottinger #4J and Chase Stockon the last man in with Justin Grant dropping out with sparks shooting from the McGhee #11 and he would claim one of the provisionals along with Hunter Schuerenberg in the Pace #44.

    The 20 lap TQ midget feature would go to the post first with Jason Setzer dominating the event winning over a closing Callie Wolsiffer and Jason Goff. At 10:37 the green flag dropped on the 30 lap feature and very dusty conditions prevailed. A turn two three car tangle on lap one involving Josh Hodges, Aaron Farney and Hunter Schuerenberg would turn out to be the only stoppage of this event with the race going non-stop after this jingle. Lap 8 saw Meseraull take the lead from his seventh starting spot with a slide job of Carson Short entering turn one and pulling it off exiting turn two. Meseraull took off at that point with an intense battle for second involving Short, Cummins and Courtney. Meseraull expertly picked his way through lap traffic including a fine move with eight to go as he split the middle of Kody Swanson and Schuerenberg to give himself some breathing room and separation from Short at this point. Meseraull continued to pound the cushion as he had done the entire distance and maintained his lead. Brady Bacon meanwhile was working the bottom groove with success taking third from Courtney with five to go after starting 11th. Meseraull brought the Briscoe #5B wrenched by five time Indiana Speed Week victor, Kevin Briscoe, under the checkered at 10:47 winning over Carson Short, Brady Bacon, Tyler Courtney and Kyle Cummins fifth. The hard charger award went to Robert Ballou who charged from 22nd to finish 10th at the end. All in all a decent feature but by Kokomo standards not a classic but probably better than 75% of the features run on any given night throughout the USA. It was also great seeing and talking with Gary and Sally, our friends from Nebraska after the races were over.

    Sunday, July 9 - We decided to skip the Indiana Sprint Week show at Lawrenceburg instead deciding to take in the Red Bull Global Rallycross event held at the Lucas Oil Raceway in Claremont. Scott Speed and Tanner Foust dominated the entire afternoon and early evening winning all of their respective preliminary events and placing first and second in the final outdistancing former UMP modified standout, Canadian Steve Arpin, who finished third in the final.

    Monday, July 10 - Today was the rescheduled Gas City run postponed from Friday and the weather again was bleak looking with forecasts of 70 to 80% thunderstorms during the course of the early evening. After much trepidation we decided not to make the two hour drive to Gas City and guess what they beat the percentages and got the show in before the weather hit finishing the sprint A main by 8:50 and the modified main by 9:05. Kudos to the O'Connor family for running the event under trying conditions and from the reports a less than stellar crowd on hand and to the crews and drivers for spinning off a well oiled show with little downtime and time to work on their cars. Feel bad about not going to support the O'Connors and Gas City as you never know when this might be the last time you witness racing at one of our favorite Indiana bullrings as they hang on by a thread but sometimes you make a logical decision and have to stick by it.

    Wednesday, July 12 - The second part of Indiana Sprint Week was scheduled to kick off at the big half mile located on the Vigo County Fairgrounds where the annual fair was taking place in addition to the sprint cars competing at the historic dirt oval. The weather forecast looked much better on the evening with a 15% chance of rain. We left Crawfordsville at 4 PM drove through some light rain and arrived at Terre Haute at 5:30 under partly sunny skies. We bought our tickets, secured our seats in the covered grandstands and decided to check out the midway of souvieners. After purchasing a Kevin Thomas Jr. shirt (Pat) and a Justin Grant t-shirt (Bruce) we grabbed a rib eye steak sandwich before returning to our grandstand seats. A call from my brother found me venturing out into the fairgrounds, finding a bench to sit on and talking with him as I noticed the dark clouds starting to surround the fairgrounds. According to the weather website these storms were suppose to pass north of Terre Haute but soon thereafter the rain began to lightly fall. After seeking shelter in the rooster barn it began to rain harder. The wind started to blow hard as I made my way back to the covered grandstands so Pat would know where I was. The winds continued to blow with increasing velocity and the rain came down harder blowing into the grandstands and making most of the people sitting there wet. Soon thereafter it was posted on USAC's website that the event was cancelled and two additonal sprint car dates, one on September 15th and the other on October 14th, would be added to the national sprint car schedule to make up for the previous two rainouts at Terre Haute of the Tony Hulman Classic and the Don Smith Classic. Wristbands will be honored at either one of these events.

    Though I missed it due to talking with my brother on the phone during practice Isaac Chapple took a nasty flip in between turns three and four before the rains and wind hit. He was transported to Terre Haute Regional Hospital where doctors found that Chapple suffered a concussion and a lacerated lung in the tumble. Chapple was scheduled to be released on Thursday evening and our good wishes for a speedy recovery go out to the young man who has come along nicely in his driving in the last two years.

    Next stop Lincoln Park where weather again is the monster lurking under the bed here in Indiana. Thanks for reading and hopefully we can post the happenings in the final three nights of racing of Indiana Sprint Week where friend, Jim Karper from California and formally from Pennsylvania, is scheduled to join us. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Following USAC Midgets Through Illinois During Fourth of July Weekend

    Friday, June 30 - The weekend was actually suppose to start off at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, IN for an USAC National Sprint Car race but mother nature rised her ugly head and wiped out the night's activities along with any other racing in the state of Indiana. So instead we dined at Little Mexico in Crawfordsville along with our house guests for the evening the Perrotto's, Joe and Cindy along with Steve and Krystan.

    Saturday, July 1 - Incredible. Amazing. Unbelievable. They are a few of the words that could be used to describe the racing action with the USAC midgets tonight at the 1/5 mile high banked black dirt oval at Macon Speedway. We will report on all that shortly as the Perrottos' joined us for their maiden voyage to this exciting speedplant along with our midget buddy, Dale O'Brien, who is living in Wisconsin for the summer to beat the scorching heat in his home of Florida.

    The USAC midgets were making their first appearance at Macon since August 17th, 2007 and when hot laps/group qualifying was completed the fastest lap in Macon history had been posted by Zach Daum with a time of 10.325 seconds around the 1/5 mile oval. The old record was held by PJ Jones and dated back 26 years. On the card with the fine 38 USAC midget field were 600 micro sprints numbering 36, pro late models checking in with a dozen and street stocks bringing in 15 for the night's activities. The 600's would run their heats first and spun off four heats in quick order. The USAC midgets would follow with another four with Jake Neuman beating Nick Knepper, Dave Darland and Tyler Thomas in the first heat. Heat two saw Tanner Carrick take one of the Keith Kuntz entries for a hard ride down the backstretch after an aborted start left him climbing a wheel and tumbling down into turn three. Carrick was OK after the bone shaking ride. Colten Cottle captured the second heat winning over Spencer Bayston, Kyle Schuett and Brayton Lynch. Gage Walker scored heat three over Tanner Thorson, Justin Grant and Tyler Nelson. California driver, Shane Golobic, in one of three Clauson/Marshall entries took heat four over Christopher Bell, Jerry Coons Jr. and Tyler Courtney. In this heat Courtney made an amazing move at one point sticking to the inside groove like he was glued there and charged from fifth to second from the straightway through turns one and two but it was negated by a yellow flag that waved shortly thereafter. Then the local classes took over with two heats each for the pro late models and the street stocks before we went to the B mains for the midgets and the 600's. Fast timer, Zach Daum, won the midget B main over Chad Boat, point leader, Brady Bacon, Daniel Robinson, David Burdres and Holly Shelton.

    Now we were ready for the main events and the 20 lap pro late model feature would be the first to the post. They ran a good feature with only one caution in only five minutes with Tommy Sheppard Jr. winning this one. Next up was the 30 lap USAC National Midget feature with the green flag waving at 9:55. Tyler Courtney went to the point on the green and the bedlem began. There was action everywhere around the small oval and you didn't know where to watch. Lap 8 saw Courtney and Spencer Bayston bang together in turn two losing some momentum with Brady Bacon diving low and passing both to lead that lap. Courtney charged back and retook the lead entering turns one and two with Bayston attempting to pass Bacon for second entering turn three. Bayston slammed into the side of Bacon with Bacon almost stopping and causing him to drop from second all the way back to fifth and Bacon was never a contender after that. Lap 13 saw Nick Knepper stop on the track and on the restart Christopher Bell lurking just outside the top five made a bold outside sweep as the top five dove low entering turn one. This move put Bell in third as he chased Courtney and Bayston who were still in front of him. The middle stages of this race were just incredible as slide jobs and crossovers were the order of the day as they raced around the tiny oval. Courtney moved to a straightway lead but the caution appeared on lap 20 when Jake Neuman running a fine race and inside the top five at the time spun to bring out the caution. The battle was on now as Courtney and Bell squared off like two gladiators and threw slide jobs and crossovers at each other like they were going out of style. With five to go Bell wrestled the lead away from Courtney and opened up some ground between first and second. Bayston caught and passed Courtney for second with three to go and took up the chase of Bell. With the white flag waving and Bayston closing Bell caught the top of the cushion off turn four and stumbled allowing Bayston to close to his tail. Bell recovered and ran a flawless final lap to score his 18th career USAC National Midget win tying him with David Steele for 35th place on the all time list. After being shut out for seven straight starts the Keith Kuntz team has now won three USAC midget races in a row with three different drivers. Bayston came home second with Courtney third, Justin Grant fourth and Shane Golobic claiming fifth after starting 21st. Wow. Wow. Wow. This was a great one.

    The 20 lap 600 feature was next and I would like to tell you this one was a classic also but I would be lying. These guys are usually very good also expecially at Macon but tonight was not their night. Ten cautions marred the twenty lap affair with Jeremy Camp finally taking the checkered flag at 10:37 over Craig Ronk and Kurt Westerfield. We all decided to call it a night at this point and walked to the parking lot buzzing about what we had just witnessed. It is one that people will be discussing for months and years to come. It was that good of a night of racing!!

    Sunday, July 2 - It was a sunny hot day and Bruce and I decided to take a short walk from our hotel over to visit the Springfield home of President Lincoln before heading over to the track. We arrived at Lincoln Speedway in Lincoln, Illinois at 4:00 to find a bigger crowd then we have ever seen here already on the grounds. By the time trials started at 6:00 the stands, all of them, were packed with two sets of fans in the house.

    Tonight the UMP Late Model Hell Tour was running along with the USAC Midgets that were making their first appearance here since 1959. It would be the first time the midgets would be running on the present configuration. Allan and Nancy Brown came down from Michigan and we arrived early enough to save the perfect seats. We were going to be in for a good night of racing and friendship. The UMP Modifieds were also on the card and the car count in the pits was 99. I thought we were going to be in for a long night but I have to admit management was on its game tonight. Time trials for the 31 late models were run off in twos and the midgets ran group time trials by their heat line-ups. Afterwards there was some track prep and they went right into the qualifying heats. There were 4 heats for the midgets and they were pretty good. The second heat saw Justin Grant make a last lap pass on Jerry Coons Jr. for the win. The third heat saw a very aggressive Spencer Bayston take the win. I like Bayston a lot but this year he seems to have become very aggressive. I do not think it is for the better. When I think of Bayston I think of this good kid from nearby Lebanon, Indiana. On Sunday I saw a driver who hit into Brady Bacon on the homestretch and then pretty much dumped him into the turn 2 wall. I prefer the good kid Bayston. I am sure Bacon does too. Christopher Bell was in the house and he captured the final qualifying heat. After 15 minutes of track prep we moved right into the late model and modified heats. There were three for the late models and four for the modifieds. They all were run without a hitch and before 8:00 all the heats were complete. Again there was track prep and after another 15 minute break the midget B main rolled onto the track. This B main had an excellent race for the lead. Brady Bacon and Zach Daum battled for the top spot with Bacon coming out the winner. The modifieds required both a B and C main with the late models only running a B main. By 8:50 they spun off 15 events. Did I mention there was no dust? I was impressed.

    The midgets ran a 30 lap A main and the green dropped at 9:07. It was a Tyler front row made up of Tyler Thomas and Tyler Courtney. For my dear friend,Gordy Killian that would be Sunshine. The race started out with two early spins and then on lap 5 there was a horrific crash that started on the homestretch. Chad Boat and Brayton Lynch got together and then the longest flip I have ever seen on a short track in 63 years of going to the races, happened. While Boat was experiencing the longest flip, Lynch had his own flip which busted a pole in two and took down some catch fence. Boat exited the track and kept on flipping until he was stopped by the chain-link fence that was on the other side of the old mile track. He must have gone 15 times. It was extremely scary and the best words I heard all night were both drivers are out of the cars. There was another quick spin before they finally ran off over 15 laps caution free. Spencer Bayston had the lead but Christopher Bell had ideas of his own and that was to win. Tyler Courtney had that same idea and with around 10 laps to go they battled for the lead. A late race spin brought Bayston and Shane Golobic back into the picture but no one had anything for Bell. Bell once again stood in victory lane with Bayston second and Courtney third. Golobic and Jerry Coons Jr. rounded out the top five. It was a good race.

    The night was early and we stayed for the late model feature which was won by Brandon Sheppard followed by Kyle Bronson and Chub Frank. The race was run off with only 1 caution. It was still only 10:07 when completed but we decided to leave prior to the modified event. The crowd was unbelievable, the racing was good and did I mention it was not dusty?

    Monday, July 3 - The last night of the three day Illinois USAC midget swing would take place at a new venue, the 1/5 mile dirt oval carved out at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Multi-Purpose Arena in Springfield. The canopy draped grandstand could not be used due to wind damage to one of the three cones on top of the canopy so temporary aluminum stands plus other hillside seating was made available to the good sized crowd that streamed into the facility for the first time. Joining us on this evening were our good friends, Allan and Nancy Brown, from Michigan as we staked out our spot on the hillside with lawn chairs overlooking the track down below. Other friends including Rick Schneider, Dale O'Brien, Jack Erdman, Brian Hickey and his gal, Elaine Fleming, were also in attendence and we all had a good time talking and sharing stories before the racing began.

    The four USAC midget heats for the 28 car field on hand took the initial green at 7:12 PM and racing was on again at Springfield. The track was a bit narrow and flat and passing was at a premium early but as the night progressed the track crew kept working on the surface and the groove became wider and two groove racing commenced. The first heat was won by Dave Darland holding off Tanner Thorson and Christopher Bell for the popular win. Nick Hamilton claimed heat two over Justin Grant and Tyler Courtney with lady racer, Holly Shelton notching heat three over Mark Chisholm from Cheyene, Wyoming and Tyler Nelson. Heat four saw Brady Bacon triumph over Daniel Robinson and Shane Golobic. Next up were the Illinois Midget Racing Association (IMRA) D2 midgets who ran three heats for their 20 car field with Jake Neuman doing double duty winning heat one. Heat two went to Dillon Morley while heat three was claimed by Jeremy Hull. In a unusual qualifying format for USAC they went by Chili Bowl qualifying procedures using passing points in the heat races to determine starting positions for the four qualifying races that followed. Gage Walker took qualifier one over Ryan Robinson and Spencer Bayston. Tyler Thomas notched qualifier two over Jerry Coons Jr. and Tyler Nelson. Qualifier three went to Shane Golobic over Terry Babb and Daniel Robinson. Qualifier four was all Tyler Courtney over Justin Allgaier and Tanner Thorson. USAC officials decided to place tires painted white on the inside of the turns which did not do what they intented them to do as they were loose without anything anchoring them down and were kicked out three times onto the track during the D2 midget feature causing unecessary yellows. Finally before the midget A main they were filled with dirt and the problem was solved.

    The IMRA D2 midget feature would go to the post next with 20 laps the distance in this one. Adam Taylor took the early lead until the red appeared on lap 2 when Paul Graybrook flipped the Baue #2 over the concrete wall on the homestretch landing on all four wheels. He had gone over twice and the incident did not look that serious even though Graybrook looked to be unconscious. As the EMT's worked to remove Graybrook from the car using the backboard movement was seen from Paul and everyone clapped upon seeing that and felt that everything was fine. We along with everyone else who heard the news the next morning that Paul Graybrook had sucumbed to his injuries were shocked to say the least. Life is fragile and you don't know when your time is going to come and this reminds you of the dangers involved in the sport that we love and to cherish every moment you have with people. Our deepest condolences go out to the Graybrook family, the Baue family and all the people at IMRA on the loss they suffered this evening. Godspeed Paul and you will sorely be missed by the many friends you developed over the years. Taylor took the lead on the restart and led until lap 8 when Dillon Morley passed him for the top spot. Morley would go onto victory in this one besting Jeremy Hull and Brent Burrows. The midget B main was still to be contested with Ryan Robinson winning over Justin Allgaier, Jake Neuman, Kyle Schuett, Mike Hess and Tanner Carrick. All that was left now was the 40 lap USAC National Midget feature.

    The green waved at 10:44 with Shane Golobic grabbing the early lead. Golobic led until Tyler Courtney caught him high off turn four on lap six to take the lead with Christopher Bell following through for second with a slide job on Golobic. Bell took up the chase of Courtney and Bell was looking for his third straight midget win tonight. Courtney was up to the challenge tonight after recording three straight third place finishes and was able to fend off Bell who lost second back to Golobic late in the contest. The drive of the night was turned in by veteran Dave Darland who worked the inside like the pro he is advancing from 15th to garner fourth with Spencer Bayston, the new point leader, taking fifth after starting 11th. Also turning in a good run was Jake Neuman marching from 19th to 9th at the end when the checker flew at 11:06. It was surprisingly a good feature on the tight, flat oval and it seems the Clauson/Marshall drivers adapt well to these types of tracks and added another victory to their resume.

    That wraps it up for another typical weekend and check back soon as we move into the always exciting Indiana Sprint Week where action kicks off first at the Gas City Speedway on Friday night weather permitting. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and have fun. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    No Way Out 40 & MSCS Sprints At Brownstown

    Friday, June 23 - Tonight was suppose to be the makeup date for the previously rained out USAC sprint car Hulman Classic at Terre Haute and wouldn't you know it the rain rolled in and washed out the event once again.

    Saturday, June 24 - We started out early on Saturday to drive to Marengo, Indiana to the Southern Indiana Off Road Raceway located on the grounds of the Crawford County Fairgrounds. On tap today was the Mid America Off Road Assocation (MAORA) running an event at this facility. The course was laid out toward the back of the fairgrounds and consisted of numerous turns and several small jumps for the dune buggies to negiosate. Seven total buggies in two classes, Class 10 (4 - bigger buggies) and Class 16 ( 3 - smaller buggies) competed together in three races with total points determining the winners in each class. The racing was decent with Kevin Hall winning Class 10 and Pat Welch winning Class 16. It was an enjoyable way to spend a sunny afternoon before heading for our Saturday night destination of the Brownstown Speedway.

    We arrived early at Brownstown, taped down our blanket in the covered grandstands and went back under the shade trees where our vehicle was parked and sat in our lawn chairs and gabbed first with Wisconsin trackchaser, Jack Erdman, and then our Air Force friend from Pennsylvania, Steve Perrotto, who drove up from the Tampa, FL area on his way to the Air Force base in Illinois near St. Louis. On the card for tonight was the completion of the No Way Out 40 for the wingless sprints paying $7500 to win and the completion of the TQ midget feature from that night of March 25th. After wrapping up these two races they would turn around and run another complete five division program of MSCS sprints, pro late models, Racesaver 305 sprints, TQ midgets and pure stocks. Going in this seemed to be too much racing to handle on one evening and was the proverbial packing of 10 lbs of sh.. into a 5 lb bag. And indeed it came back to haunt them.

    The track was overly dusty for the start of No Way Out 40 with the front row of Jeff Bland Jr. and Brady Short bringing 15 of their friends to the green flag to start the event. Things came to a sudden, grinding halt as Dave Darland dumped the Hery #40 in turn two on the opening lap. On the restart it looked to us that Brady Short jumped Jeff Bland but the green remained out and by turn two Chad Boespflug had the Hoffman #69 at the point anyhow. The race remained green until lap 21 when Jordan Kinser stopped on the outside off of turn two. Boespflug remained in control with the last stoppage on lap 30 when Kyle Robbins flipped on the backstretch. Boespflug jumped back to the lead on the green with Jeff Bland in tow. Bland challenged but Boespflug was up to the challenge and held sway. On lap 37 Short running in the top five slid off turn four and took himself out of the top five. Over the last 3 laps Short was able to rebound to grab fifth at the finish. Also Bland was shuffled out of the top five on the last lap with help from Tyler Courtney who forced him off turn two on an attempted slider. At the checkered it was Boespflug in for the cool $7500 winning over Courtney with Shane Cottle making a guest appearance in the Dutcher #17GP placing third after starting 16th with CJ Leary fourth and Short fifth. The 20 lap TQ midget feature was next up and these guys and gals ran a fine race with no cautions with Nick Speidel dominating for the win over Beau Binder and Callie Wosiffer.

    The regular show was led off by the MSCS sprints who would need four heats for their fine 33 car field. Heat one went to Carson Short in a cakewalk over Shane Cottle, Garrett Aitken and Dicky Gaines. Heat two saw Tyler Courtney prevail over Boespflug, Ethan Barrow and CJ Leary. Heat three saw the return of Dave Darland after his feature tumble winning over Brady Short, Jon Stanbrough and Brian Karracker. This heat saw Brady Short squeeze first starting Jeff Bland Jr. low with contact made causing Bland to spin to the infield with front end damage. Bland was not a happy camper upon exit from his sprinter and headed toward Short but was wisely held back by a track official. It seems over the last few weeks these two competitors have had some run ins and a real rivarly or feud is brewing. Veteran Bill Rose took the victory in heat four over Tyler Thomas, Chase Briscoe and Dakota Jackson. Later in the B main it was Max McGhee punching his ticket to the dance by beating back Jordan Kinser, Jeff Bland Jr. in the Waltz #66W for this part of the program after driving his own car in the first event and Travis Berryhill the last man in. The remaining four divisions ran their qualifying with some track work done in between which seemed to help for a while but by the first feature of the second show the track was very dusty once again and made watching it a tough task as the dust blew into the grandstands and covered everyone and everything. I would like to tell you this feature was good but about the only good thing about it was the 25 laps went non-stop in 11 minutes and ended at 11:47. Brady Short led the entire distance from his second starting position and won over Tyler Courtney who was the bridesmaid for the second time tonight with Shane Cottle coming home third, Jon Stanbrough fourth and Bill Rose rounding out the top five. There was a scary incident on the homestretch at the finish when Tyler Thomas was turned sideways by Max McGhee coming off turn four and spun in the center of the track where he sat as the remainder of the field charged around for the checkered flag. With no where to go and to avoid a full contact hit to the sideways Thomas, Dakota Jackson turned sharply to the left and impacted the tail tank of the Burton #04 splitting the tank with fuel running onto the track surface. Why the starter was not throwing the yellow and checker was beyond me. It could have been much more serious with both drivers shortly thereafter climbing from their wrecked sprinters.

    With the time now at midnight and still four features to go we could tell that Steve was done for the evening and we joined him walking to the car as we had an early morning rise and we had seen what we most wanted to see. That was the dustiest we have ever seen Brownstown and having seen about a dozen good sprint car races here our streak ended tonight as neither feature was any thing to write home about.

    For the upcoming Fourth of July weekend plans are to start off with USAC sprints at Lincoln Park on Friday followed by USAC midgets in Illinois at Macon, Lincoln and Springfield all depending on the weather of course. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and have fun. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Bloomington, Paragon & Rain

    Friday, June 16 - It was a hot sunny day in the 90's as we headed south to Bloomington Speedway. We knew the field of sprints would be minus a few cars as USAC was back in Pennsylvania for the Eastern Storm. However whenever the likes of Brady Short, Tyler Thomas and Max McGhee are in the house you know you should see some good racing. I thought the crowd was down a bit but then maybe fans were recovering from Midget week and saving up for the special events around the 4th of July. We lucked out and when we arrived at 5:15 there was still room on the top row to place our chairs going into turn one.

    The show started promptly at 7:30 on the dot and three of the four division, Race Saver 305 sprints, 410 wingless sprints and modifieds, all ran three heats each. The fourth division the Indiana Late Model Series ran only two heats for their 16 cars in the pits. Brady Short was running the 305 sprint normally run by Dakota Jackson, who was back East running the Silver Crown car at Williams Grove Speedway. Unfortunately Brady's ride in the winged car found him crashing in the third heat and being towed off the track. He later would return for the feature with little success. The qualifying events in all divisions were run off with little to do and before 9:00 all 11 events were in the books.

    The show was moved along nicely and in less than 20 minutes the green was dropping on the first feature event of the evening. The 305 sprints ran their feature with only 2 cautions. The sprints with wings are real fast but there is not much side by side racing. Alex Nalon picked up the win and he is the great grandson of the legendary Duke Nalon. Brinton Marvel, a third generation driver, was second with Ethan Barrow third. It is also worthy to mention that Nalon is 16 years old and Marvel is the ripe old age of 15.

    The wingless sprints were up next and tonight they just did not have it. I guess you cannot have a great race every time and this was one of those times. When they were racing there was some good action but the caution came out 8 times. They spun, they spun and they spun some more. In the end Brady Short and Jeff Bland went at it for the lead. I would say it was a carbon copy of last week. However, neither Bland or Short was driving the same car they drove the previous week. The outcome was different also. This time it was Jeff Bland coming home the victor with the Waltz #66W getting their first career win with Brady Short in second. Lee Underwood was third with Tim Creech putting in a fine run for fourth. Josh Hodges rounded out the top 5.

    There were two features left to run, modifieds and late models. We chose to stay for both events. In the modifieds Josh Harris and Jacoby Hines ran side by side nearly the entire race. In the end it was Harris in victory lane with Hines in second. The late models were last and we were surprised at how many fans remained for all four feature events. The late model feature had three cautions with Tyler Cain picking up the win followed by Justin Shaw. It was 11:11 when all was complete and we headed down the hill. Not the best racing but then we are so spolied here that we think every race has to be wow wow wow and they just can't be.

    Saturday, June 17 - We started the day by driving down to Medora, a small town outside of Brownstown to take in an afternoon UTV race promoted by IXCR which presents cross country racing of various classes including motorcycles, ATV's and UTV's. We met up with Guy Smith, a friend from Pennsylvania who drove over from Ohio where his wife was teaching a class at Ohio University. The course was long and went through the woods in various parts of the farmland and each lap took about 9 minutes to run. The race was an hour in length and when it was all said and done on this very hot day we were happy to jump in the car with the air conditioning blaring as we headed up the road toward Paragon Speedway. Kyle Chaney of Ohio won by four minutes over John Barnes of Tennessee and Seth Mitchell of Ohio. Dave Phillips of Illinois won the lite division.

    We rolled into Paragon Speedway at 7:40 as the first sprint car heat was running. On tap tonight was our annual visit to Paragon to take in and honor the memory of Chuck Amati, know in racing circles as the One Armed Bandit. The Amati 68 is an unique race being 68 laps in distance with caution laps counting but not all of them. It is run without a fuel stop on the 1/4 mile oval located on the outskirts of the town of Paragon. The admission to this race was a real bargain as it is normally $20 but with a HARF membership card the price was $10. You can't beat that! We walked the hill up to the wooden bleachers that sit on the side of a hill and found a good seat and settled in to watch the action. Four heats would be needed for the 32 car field on hand and the first one went to Jeff Bland Jr. over Ethan Fleetwood and Kent Christian. Heat two saw Brady Short top the field winning over Shane Cottle and Max McGhee. Ethan Barrow controled heat three turning back Brandon Mattox and Jake Scott. Veteran Jon Stanbrough in his last year of racing triumphed in heat four winning over Bill Rose and Travis Welpott. There were several other local divisions on the card also and they ran their heats before two B mains for the sprints were contested. Charlie Belden Jr. and Ben Knight punched their tickets into the big dance.

    It was 9:59 when Jon Stanbrough and Shane Cottle brought 18 others to the green flag to start the Amati 68 with Cottle taking the lead from the outside. The track was in good shape tonight with the drivers able to run all over the racing surface as the event unfolded. An early caution on lap 8 was followed by a four car pileup in turns three and four on lap 16 and after that the race went non-stop over the remaining 52 laps. Cottle was challenged by Brady Short but was able to fend him off and pulled away from Short as the race went on. Short ran second until lap 56 when Jeff Bland Jr. drove by. Short countered on lap 60 but two laps later Bland breezed by and pulled away from Short over the remaining six laps. Cottle flew under the checkered flag at 10:28 winning by a large margin over Bland with Short third, Max McGhee fourth and Jon Stanbrough rounding out the top five. It wasn't a great race but at least it was quick. Shane Cottle dominated with the Paul Hazen #57 tonight and there was little doubt that he was going to win this evening.

    Sunday, June 18 - Heavy rain overnight in the Kokomo area had the O'Connors throwing in the towel early as the grounds were saturated and there was no way that the facility would be able to recover in a short time period to run the next day. So it was an early end to the weekend of racing for us as we opted not to attend the UMP Hell Tour late model event at Daugherty Speedway where we found out the next day that rough and dusty track conditions forced UMP officials to cut the distance of the late model feature from 40 to 30 laps and only issue show up points for everyone on hand. Glad we didn't go to that one.

    Until next week where we plan to head for the rescheduled Hulman Classic at Terre Haute on Friday and the rescheduled No Way Out 40 at Brownstown on Saturday take care and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts.


     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    All Star Sprints at Macon & Indiana Midget Week Finale at Kokomo

    Saturday, June 10 - We decided to take the 2 hour tow to Macon for the All Star Sprints instead of the 2 1/2 hour journey to Lawrenceburg for the USAC midgets. The main reason was we have seen almost everything else at Macon Speedway but never 410 winged sprints on the tiny 1/5 mile and we wanted to see how they ran. We left early and took our time driving over including stopping at an antique shop in Decatur to pick up an antique that Pat won in an auction bid last week. We still arrived in plenty of time just after the gates opened and taped our seats down on the top row of one of the sections on the homestretch. Driving a few blocks from the track we found a fine place to eat on Wall St. called Whit's End. The food was good quality, reasonably priced and a friendly atmosphere to boot. Not much not to like here, highly recommend it if you are in the Macon area.


     

    The All Star Sprints were making their first appearance since 2004 at Macon and 31 sprinters filled the pit area along with 11 street stocks, 12 modifieds and 7 pro late models. Time trials for the All Stars began at 6:25 and when it was all said and done nine drivers had broken into the nine second bracket around the 1/5 mile oval with Chad Kemenah fastest of the bunch with a time of 9.540 seconds. Two street stock heats were next up and then it was three heats for the All Stars with six to qualify out of each. The first heat was won by Parker Price Miller over TJ Michael and Caleb Armstrong. The second heat took forever and must have had close to 10 cautions. It was painful!! Justin Peck from Monrovia, Indiana was involved in one of the early jingles, went to the work area for repairs and returned minus the front wing. He was able to pass Tony Stewart late in the event for the heat win with Hunter Schuerenberg grabbing third. The third heat saw Max Stambaugh win over Carson Macedo and Chris Urish. The All Stars are in a transition period right now with many of their previous top runners such as Dale Blaney, Sheldon Haudenschild, Tim Shaffer and Kraig Kinser racing elsewhere. In their place are a new group of upstarts such as Stambaugh, Caleb Armstrong, TJ Michael, Ryan Smith, Caleb Helms and others trying to step up and make their own names shine. It is a weaker version of the All Stars but they will survive and with experience the young guns will replace the other guns.


     

    The sprint dash race was won by Paul Neinhiser, a MOWA regular who finished second the previous night at Lincoln, Illinois. Jimmy Hurley would top the B main and the field was now set for the 40 lap A main. In between the B and the A the street stocks ran their 15 lapper and it was a good contest with Dennis Wemle prevailing. Now it was time for the 40 lap, $5000 to win All Star feature to be called to the post. The green would wave at 9:47 with second starter, Chad Kemenah, storming into the early lead. Kemenah's lead was short lived as Justin Peck out of the fourth hole went to the wall in turn two and passed him for the lead on lap 3. The 18 year old recent high school graduate would lead the remaining 37 laps through eight cautions, two of which turned into red flags. It was not easy though as constant lap traffic was an issue but the youngster was able to work his way through the traffic and maintain the lead pressured first by Kemanah and then Paul Neinhiser who passed Kemanah for second low in turns three and four on lap 24 and showed his nose to Peck several times but was never able to make a serious challenge for the lead. When the checkered waved at 10:29 it was Peck home first for his first career All Star win and $5000 richer to boot followed by Neinhiser, Kemanah, Carson Macedo in the Joe Gaerte #3G and Tony Stewart who ran a steady race to capture fifth at the end. It was a decent feature and we finally got to witness sprint cars on the 1/5 mile so all was not lost.


     

    Sunday, June 11 - It was back to Indiana midget week for the grand finale at the 1/4 mile dirt oval at the Kokomo Speedway. The points title was up for grabs with the top five within 12 points of each other going into the final and nine total drivers with a mathematical chance at winning the point title. Twenty eight midgets and 23 sprints answered the final call in the two division card on this evening at the O'Connor family facility. New aluminum high rise grandstands are almost completed on the backstretch and word is next week they will be finished and open to the public. It should make for a new perspective of the famous bullring as the grandstand had its back to the setting sun and could be the new prime time seat at Kokomo.


     

    In hot laps one of the title contenders, Michael Pickens from New Zealand, diminished his title hopes as he went for a wild tumble in turn two after hitting the wall and bouncing sideways into a series of rolls and flips. Unbelievably Pickens was able to return for his time trial run and heat racing. Two other title contenders also had troubles as Justin Grant and Brady Bacon had to go to backup cars after their time trial runs and start in the rear of their respective heat races. Grant qualified through his heat while Bacon was not so fortunate and had to qualify through the B main. Shane Golobic set fast time with a lap of 13.373 seconds and with the points awarded for time trials now had the point lead. Four heats were next up for the 28 midgets on hand and heat one went to Spencer Bayston who started fifth and breezed to victory over Holly Shelton, Shane Golobic and Tanner Carrick. Tanner Thorson also came out of the fifth hole to win heat two over Jerry Coons Jr., Davey Ray and Justin Grant. Heat three saw Tyler Thomas score the win over Rico Abreu, Michael Pickens and Alex Bright. The fourth and final heat went to "Sunshine" Tyler Courtney charging from sixth to win over Chad Boat, Jimi Quin and Dave Darland. The midget B main would be claimed by Gage Walker turning back Ronnie Gardner, Ryan Robinson, Brady Bacon, Vermont's Adam Pierson and Courtney Crone who was able to stave off Steve Buckwalter who missed qualifying for his third main event by one position tonight driving the Parker Price Miller #9P. The sprints were next on the dance card with three heats with Tyler Courtney running away with heat one in a test run for the backup Topps #23C for the Eastern Storm swing and then scratching from the feature. Travis Hery and Corey Smith followed in this one. Brady Short still motoring the Reinbold #19AZ claimed heat two over Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Gass #17 and Tyler Thomas. Heat three (or the almost all Kokomo resident heat - 5 drivers from Kokomo in this one) saw Colten Cottle beat his uncle, Shane, for the win with Dave Darland bringing the Hery #40 home third.


     

    For the only time in Indiana midget week the sprint cars would run their 25 lap feature first with Shane Cottle taking the Paul Hazen #57 to the point at the drop of Tom Hansing's green flag. The action came to an abrupt halt on lap three when Logan Jarrett and Isaac Chapple executed a double roll on the backstretch with Chapple's tail tank coming loose from the sprinter. Cottle retained the lead on the restart with Kevin Thomas Jr. moving to third with an inside move off turn two on lap 4 and three laps later taking second from Short. Lap 8 saw Thomas get into the backstretch wall hard and drop back to fourth and many thought he might be done for contending for the win but he was back on the peddle. Cottle was looking very good out front and looked like he might be on his way to his second win of the weekend but Thomas had other plans. Thomas caught and passed Cottle for the lead between turns three and four on lap 22 and went on to score his second straight Kokomo win and his third overall win of the week and also the second career win for the Gass family in the same week. Brady Short managed to sneak by Cottle for second with Shane third, Colten Cottle fourth and Dave Darland finishing fifth after starting ninth.


     

    The Kunz front row of Tanner Thorson and Spencer Bayston brought the 22 car field to the green flag of Texas IndyCar flagger, Tom Hansing, with Bayston going to the cushion to take the lead. Spencer would stay true to the berm for the remainder of the event and seem to be the only one that had any real success in running it. It was all peaches and cream up top as on lap ten Bayston caught the curb wrong and this gave Tyler Courtney a chance to make a challenge for the lead and they ran side by side with photo finishes at the line for three laps before Bayston was able to totally retain control after Courtney was credited with leading two of the laps. Brady Bacon made his presence felt as he cracked the top three just before the halfway mark. Lap 16 saw tenth running Ryan Robinson flip in turn three and brought the race to a quick halt. Robinson was OK after the flip. On the restart Courtney seemed to find a second wind making a surge on the bottom side through turns one and two to again lead on laps 20 & 21. Bayston never flinched and stayed on the cushion and blasted by Courtney heading down the backstretch on lap 22 and never looked back. There was still a battle to be settled on the track with Courtney one spot ahead of his teammate, Shane Golobic, and the higher finisher would take the point title crown. Golobic slipped by Courtney through turns one and two with just three laps to go and held off Courtney to claim the title. At the finish at 10:23 it was Spencer Bayston in for his second career USAC National midget win and his first since last year at Gas City in an Indiana midget week victory beating Golobic with Courtney third, Justin Grant taking fourth with Brady Bacon ending up fifth. It was a trying last few days for Golobic as he suffered some a stomach flu on Friday and spent the day in the ER in Bloomington and wasn't sure if he would be able to race on Friday night with Chris Windom standing by in relief. He did race and scored a podium finish and went on to become the series champion with no finishes outside the top eight and the last three being 3rd, 4th and 2nd. Golobic also became only the fourth driver in the 13 year history of Indiana midget week to win the title without scoring a victory, the last being Bryan Clauson in 2016.


     

    It was a fine two weeks of midget racing between Illinois and Indiana where we witnessed 11 midget races in a 12 day period. We are off for the next several days until Friday where plans are still up in the air on where we are headed for the weekend. Weather could play a hand once again. Until next time be safe and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and the East Coast fans can prepare for the USAC Eastern Storm beginning Tuesday night at Grandview Speedway. We can be reached at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoyed our reports of the whirlwind midget tour.


     

     

     

    New Team in Town at Bloomington

    There’s a new kid in town and that kid is the Clauson Marshall Racing Midget Team. Last night at Bloomington Speedway they swept the podium as they finished 1, 2, 3. It was night 4 of 13th running of Indiana Midget Speed Week and once again the weather was picture perfect. There was not a cloud in the sky, the humidity was low and the temps were in the 80”s. Unfortunately the track surface was not as perfect as the weather. A tweet by sprint driver Kevin Thomas Jr. said it all. “Got our testing in for the 2018 Little 500 tonight.” Yes the surface turned black and hard but all in all the races were not that bad.

    We arrived early at 5:00 and the stands were already covered with blanket and the grassy area with folding chairs. Luckily for us former Pennsylvania resident, Zeke, now living in Florida arrived at 1:00 in the afternoon and secured our seats in the new stands toward turn four. During the night this would be the area where all the action would take place. We had flips, spins, passes, car sliding up and over the edge and even a Haboob. It was a totally open wheel event with the 410 wingless sprints and the 305 Race Saver sprints joining the USAC midgets on the card. The night started out with sprint group qualifying, midget practice and then midget time trials. Chad Boat ran the oval in 11.764 and that was enough for fast time. The first of four midget heat took the green at 7:47 and despite the track conditions they were not bad. Spencer Bayston ran away with the win in the first event and Jerry Coons Jr. took the second. The third heat had Tanner Carrick pick up the win but the race for third between Dave Darland and Justin Grant was monies’ worth. As a matter of fact our good friend Bill Burns, in from Pennsylvania for Midget Week, turned and looked at us and said, “That my dear friends is why you moved to Indiana,” Heat four was won by Shane Golobic, The three heats for the 19 305’s was next followed by three heats for the sprints. The first sprint heat featured what was probably the first Haboob ever recorded in Indiana. A Haboob is an intense dust storm and they happen out in the dessert and they are usually in the news when they hit the Phoenix area. This Haboob hit the fans sitting in the stands near turn four. AJ Hopkins slid up and over the cushion and down the outside banking coming out of turn four. Once over the cushion he gunned it to try and save it but it did not work. He spun his tires and pulled up a cloud of red dust that totally engulfed the fans. We got it with the outer edge of the cloud and were brushing red dust but the fans hit directly with the Haboob were totally covered. You could have wrote your name in the dust left on the stands. Max McGhee, Brady Short and Isaac Chapple won the sprint heats. The midget B main followed the sprint heats with Tyler Courtney, Rico Abreu and Zack Daum finishing in the top three spots. The finish sounds more like a feature finish then a B Main. It was 9:23 and we moved right into the features. I believed most fans in the stands were surprised that time was not taken for a little track rework.

    The 30 lap midget feature started at 9:42 and in 6.57.95 minutes the checkered fell. It all happen so fast I was totally surprised when the white flag was thrown. The USAC score board in the infield was absolutely useless as it never went past lap 8 and had the incorrect running order. I did not expect a lot of passing in the event but I guess they forgot to tell Tyler Courtney this as he was once again the show. New Zealand’s Michael Pickens was not a factor tonight and dropped backward from his 2nd starting spot to finish 9th. Tyler Courtney however started 7th on a track that was not easy to pass on and won. Just past halfway Courtney found himself in the top spot and was never challenged, 4th starting Justin Grant finished 2nd and Shane Golobic both started and finished 3rd. Jerry Coons Jr. was 4th and Chad Boat was 5th.It was not on the caliber with Gas City and Lincoln Park but it was not a bad race.

    The 305 sprints were up next with their 25 lap feature and it looked like they too were going to pull off a non-stop event. But on lap 17 the leader was spun, coming out of turn four, by a lap car. The leader continued on but several other cars were collected in the incident with one turning over. Racing resumed and several laps later the same car that previously spun the leader found himself flipping in turn four. The final laps saw Andy Bradley and Ryan Tusing battling for the lead with Tusing picking up the win. Over all the race was pretty decent.

    The final event was the 25 lap feature for the wingless sprints and I must admit I was not expecting too much. This race had a lot of what we call huggy pole racing. The best part of the race is it was quick as it went non-stop. Brady Short picked up his 100th sprint car win from the 3rd starting position. Jeff Bland Jr., Jordan Kinser, Ethan Fleetwood a 305 driver who moved up from last year and Max McGhee rounded out the top 5.

    The evening was complete before 11:00. We were a bit disappointed at the surface this evening as the previous races this year had great surfaces. Still we had an enjoyable night. Tomorrow we will not be going to Lawrenceburg for night 5. We usually skip Midget Week at Lawrenceburg. This does not mean we are taking a break. We will be heading into Illinois to see the All Stars race at Macon Speedway then back to Kokomo Speedway for the Speed Week finale.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Oh What A Night At Lincoln Park

    Thursday, June 8 - Lincoln Park Speedway is our favorite track to watch racing at. It may not always be the best racing but the layout of the track and the grandstands makes for a comfortable, homey type of atmosphere where you either sit in the large concrete grandstands or on the hillside next to the grandstands but the hot setup is indeed the use of a lawn chair to view the racing action from. It makes for a relaxing atmosphere, the kind where you want to sit, talk and maybe sip a beer or two and just chill out. Sometimes we think the Indiana fans are too laid back and complacent as they see so much good racing week in and week out that sometimes they take it for granted and don't jump up and down and scream and yell. We thought we would never become like this but earlier this year we noticed that during an extremely exciting race we were watching intently but not going wild and it hit us that the two transplanted Pennsylvanians had become just like the Indiana faithful and I guess that is not a bad thing in the scheme of things! But last night that all changed for everyone as the last three laps of the USAC National midget feature had almost everyone on their feet and screaming and yelling in unison as the scene unfolded in front of us. It was a special night of racing that will have the legions of fans talking about this one for years to come.

    The evening started out with midget time trials beginning at 6:51 for the 37 midgets signed in at the pit shack. Andrew Felker is having a terrible speed week as for the second evening in a row he flipped his midget in qualifying tumbling up and over turn two and bringing his evening to a very early end. Felker was OK after the wild ride but is probably a little sore this morning. When qualifying was completed at 7:23 it was New Zealand ace, Michael Pickens, turning fast time with a lap of 13.036 seconds around the 5/16 mile dirt oval located in beautiful downtown Putnamville. The four heat races for the now 36 car field pushed off at 7:41 with high flying action occuring again as 16 year old Courtney Crone caught the outside wall exiting turn four in heat one and rolled down the homestretch landing just past the flagger's stand. Fortunately Crone was fine after her bad tumble. Crone's California teammate, Ronnie Gardner, would go on to win heat one over Rico Abreu jumping from the Kuntz #97K into the Kuntz #21 vacated by Kyle Larson who had to return to work. Tanner Thorson and Michael Pickens were the other two qualifiers from this heat. Heat two saw Tanner Carrick who has been looking pretty good this week outrunning Brent Beauchamp who has turned many laps at Putnamville. Brady Bacon and PA's Ryan Greth rounded out the top four. Heat three went to another Keystone state resident, Alex Bright from Collegeville, turning back Spencer Bayston, Gage Walker and Tyler Thomas. The fourth and final heat was taken by Illinois' Zach Daum fending off Justin Grant, Dave Darland (newest member of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame) and Jerry Coons Jr. The sprint cars brought 24 quality cars to the dance with Brady Short driving the Andy Reinbold #19AZ out of Arizona taking heat one over Kevin Thomas Jr. again in the Gass #17 and Carson Macedo from California. Heat two saw a good three car battle up front finally won by Chris Windom in the Baldwin #5 over Chad Boespflug in the Hoffman #69 and Shane Cockrum in the Paul #24P. Heat three saw double dipper, Tyler Thomas in the Jerry Burton #04, win over Tim Creech and veteran Kent Christian making his first appearance of the season. The MMSA mini sprints were the third open wheel division on the card with 17 in the pit area. Rod Henning scored heat one with Rico Abreu in the Dorsett #17 winning heat two. The midget B main followed with Shane Golobic taking the win over Tyler Courtney, Chad Boat, Holly Shelton, Ryan Robinson and Brayton Lynch in the Rusty Kuntz #1K qualifying for his first Indiana midget week event. CJ Leary brought the #4P home first in the sprint car B main with all qualifying completed by 9:14. Next up would be the three main events with the mighty midgets taking center stage first.

    At the drop of Tom Hansing's green flag it was Alex Bright to the point as he was the night before at Gas City. Most of the field went to the low side to run and everyone fell into place and not much passing was going on until Spencer Bayston with a new power plant under the hood installed after his heat race ventured to the top side and began picking off cars. He passed Chad Boat for third on lap 8 and he dove low in turn one on lap 11 to disperse of Brent Beauchamp for second. Bayston continued his surge passing Bright for the lead on the outside on lap 12 and pulled away. Two quick cautions around the halfway mark brought the field back together but Bayston motored away from Bright and the rest of the field. Boat managed to slip by Bright for second on lap 18 and suddenly Michael Pickens found a line 2/3'rds of the way up the track and began to gain ground on the leaders. Pickens entered turn one, banged the cushion and diamonded turn two passing Bright for second one lap later. With eight laps to go Pickens caught and passed Boat for second going down the backstretch and the race was on. Pickens reeled in Bayston and pulled to his rear bumper with five to go when the yellow appeared as a fine run ended for sixth running Brent Beauchamp as he slowed to a stop bringing out the caution. The tension and excitement was fever pitched as the cars came to the green flag for the remaining five laps. Bayston went back out front with Pickens in hot pursuit. Bayston was able to hold off the repeated challenges of the Kiwi and looked like he would hang on for the win but Pickens had not given up. Pickens hung it all out attacking the cushion with reckless abandon pounding it in turn three and diamonding off turn four to the inside to roar by Bayston for the lead as they raced to the white flag. Entering turn one Pickens hit the cushion wrong and it threw him into a half spin but he yanked it hard to the right, maintained control and punched the gas once again with Bayston underneath him trying to take the lead back. They raced side by side down the backstretch and entered turn three with the slight advantage to Bayston as both went high with Pickens diamonding the two turns and diving low out of four with a drag race to the finish. At the line it was Pickens the winner for the second night in a row and his fourth career USAC National win as the crowd was in a frenzy and gave the New Zealander a standing ovation as this one will be talked about for years and years to come when classic finishes are the topic. Lost in this epic battle for the win was the performance of one Tyler Courtney aka Sunshine who blasted from 20th on the grid to bring the Clauson/Marshall #7BC home third with Rico Abreu claiming fourth and Justin Grant in another Clauson/Marshall entry racing from 13th to 5th. As our announcing buddy, Jeff Alhum, would say "WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!" It don't get much better than that. Pat commented to one of the New Zealand fans on hand as to where the Michael Pickens shirts were and she replied that it was all late in coming together to race here and they did not have any made up to which Pat replied they would probably make more money on t-shirts than he got to win tonight.

    After the fans calmed down somewhat we still had two features left to run and the 20 lap mini sprint main event was next up. Rico Abreu ran in fourth behind front runners, Andy Bradley, Rod Henning and Scott Bradley until Andy broke and then Rico made his move. He dispatched Scott for second and passed Henning for first two laps later and went onto victory over two of the best in the MMSA mini sprint ranks.

    The 25 lap sprint car feature would round out the night of speed with the green waving at 10:36. Brady Short would take the Reinbold #19AZ to the lead which he held until Chris Windom breezed by on the backstretch on lap 2. In the middle of the race on a restart Chad Boespflug and Kevin Thomas Jr. banged wheels on the backstretch causing a jam up behind them with Shane Cockrum spinning and run into by Lee Underwood ending Cockrum's night early. Tyler Thomas passed Short for second on the homestretch on lap 19 and looked like a contender. One lap later Thomas rolled to a stop in turn four and was done for the evening. Lap 22 saw leader Windom catch the cushion wrong in turn three and bobble with Boespflug with a head of steam charging after the leader rammed into the rear of Windom and broke the front end. After Boespflug climbed from his wrecked racer in disgust and almost a lap later Tim Creech arrived upon the scene and slid into the disabled #69. What was he looking at?? Windom was still in first on the final restart with three to go but Thomas was now lurking in second and many people were visualizing the night before at Gas City when Thomas stole one from Brady Bacon. Well, he tried here also pulling alongside Windom coming to the line for the checker but fell about 3/4 of a car length short with Windom getting the win. CJ Leary came from 16th to take third with Shane Cottle from 13th to fourth and Brady Short fading to fifth. The final checkered waved at 11:01 capping a fine night of racing in beautiful downtown Putnamville.

    Next stop is Bloomington for the next round of Indiana midget week so check back soon for updates and get out and see some good short track racing of your own.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Cowboy Up Night At Gas City

    Wednesday, June 7 - Night two of the 13th Indiana Midget Week would be contested at the 1/4 mile black dirt oval of Gas City Speedway. A nice crowd turned out on a beautiful, sunny and very windy day in the high 60's. We left our hotel at checkout at 11 and ventured across the street to the Super 8 where our buddy, Zeke, was staying and Pat used the Internet to work while Zeke and I headed over to the nearby track to place our blankets in the ticket line. We were about tenth in line so that would assure a good seat in the tight wooden grandstand tonight. From there we drove into Gas City and found a Mexican restaurant to have lunch at. The food was excellent and we took a takeout meal back for Pat to eat. We left Zeke's room around 2:45, found two good parking spots along the road leading into the track and proceeded to take our place in line and buy our tickets. With the wind blowing fiercely we were glad to have our duct tape to secure the blankets pausing to chat with two fellows from Michigan for a while before going back outside to kick back and talk with fellow fans. Activity track-side started to pick up after 6 PM and we all settled into our seats to enjoy the night of racing that would unfold.

    Time trials for the USAC National Midget series kicked off at 7:10 on a rough cowboy up track that had two cushions, one on the normal top and the other in the middle of turns three and four which made for two distinct racing grooves. When the 41 car field had attempted their time trial runs it was Kyle Larson kicking up some dirt to have some fun from his high pressure NASCAR job setting fast time with a time of 12.386 seconds around the 1/4 mile. The four midget heats were next up with 2016 Belleville winner, Chad Boat, claiming heat one over Brenden Bright, Kyle Larson and Tanner Carrick. Heat two went to the steady Shane Golobic over Rico Abreu, Zach Daum and Justin Grant. Heat three saw the older of the Bright brothers, Alex, scoring the win over Spencer Bayston, Courtney Crone from California in an impressive run and Brady Bacon. Heat four saw another young California lass, Holly Shelton, who has really picked up her game in one of the Keith Kuntz cars beating fellow California driver, Ronnie Gardner, Tyler Courtney and Tanner Thorson. Four heats were needed for the fine 31 car field sprint car field on hand. Brandon Mattox from Terre Haute would go on to win heat one over Logan Jarrett and Robert Ballou. Shane Cottle brought the Paul Hazen #57 home first in heat two over Justin Grant and Tyler Hewitt with Brady Short driving a #19AZ catching the cushion in turn four while leading with his right front wheel digging in launching him into several flips before landing hard on the track. Short was OK after the wild ride. Brady Bacon wrestled the Keen #18 to victory in heat three over Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Gass family #17 and Chris Windom. Heat four saw Ohio's Kyle Simon drive to the victory turning back Isaac Chapple and Colten Cottle where Tony Main took a tumble in turn three during the event.


     

    The midgets would need a C & B main to whittle down the field with Chance Morton fending off PA's Steve Buckwalter with both moving to the back of the B for their efforts. Brad Kraus turned skyward in the C but was OK after his hard landing. New Zealander Michael Pickens just missed qualifying in his heat but redeemed himself by winning the B main with Tyler Thomas, Brent Beauchamp, Jerry Coons Jr., Chance Morton (fine run in B after qualifying from C) and Ryan Robinson staving off a hard charging Steve Buckwalter to claim the last spot in the big dance. Ryan Greth spun and was hit causing him to flip end over end in the B main was no injuries just hurt pride. The track was reworked after the B main and by 10:16 it was time for the 30 lap USAC National Midget series feature.


     

    Alex Bright went out front at the green but Tanner Thorson passed him for the lead off turn four to lead lap one by inches. Lap four found Justin Grant passing Bright for second in turn one but bounced like a pogo stick several times stopping in the turn bringing out the yellow and going to the back of the field. Rico Abreu caught Bright for second on the restart and took off after Thorson. Lap seven saw Abreu execute a smooth slide job on Thorson entering turn three and by turn four had the lead. The two leaders pulled away from the snarling pack as the tandem of Larson, Bacon and Pickens descended upon Bright in third like locusts upon farm crops. By the halfway mark Larson had worked his way past Bright for third, fended off a run by Bright who bobbled and allowed Pickens to sneak by for fourth. Lap 19 saw the action come to a grinding halt as Chance Morton went for a ride in turn one bringing out the red and ending a good run for Morton. Lap 21 saw Larson on the tail of the top two now hustle too hard into turns three and four banging the cushion and stalling ending his chances of pulling off the victory. On the restart fourth running Pickens split the middle on second place running Abreu and third place running Brady Bacon to assume the second position. Lap 22 saw Tyler Courtney who was up to fourth lose power down the backstretch and roll to a halt. He tried to return off the turn four chute but steam from the hood area officially ended the Montpelier winner's evening. On this final restart Pickens applied the pressure to Thorson and with six to go Thorson slipped in the middle of turn four opening the bottom and Pickens dove inside. Thorson countered with a block that had Pickens' car almost doubling as a lawn mower. Pickens recovered and fell in behind Thorson to plot his next move. Brady Bacon was not done yet either as he made a run at Pickens for second but fell short. With four to go the opportunity presented itself as Pickens dove low in turn two and moved by Thorson to take the lead. Pickens pulled several car lengths in front and flashed under USAC starter, Tom Hansing, checkers at 10:40 scoring his third overall and second Indiana midget week victory over Brady Bacon who moved by Thorson on the last lap to take second in the Fred Manafort #76M with Thorson third, Abreu fourth and Spencer Bayston coming from 14th to claim 5th. Tyler Thomas made a late run to grab sixth with Beauchamp home seventh. Golobic eighth, Ronnie Gardner taking the hard charger award advancing from 22nd to 9th and Tanner Carrick rounding out the top five. Pickens admitted in victory lane that he was upset about being penalized back two rows for the start (7th to 11th) due to being late to the lineup grid and had his elbows up the entire distance. It was a good feature go and had the fans buzzing after the finish.


     

    The racing action was not over yet as the wingless sprints had a 25 lap feature to run yet. Brady Bacon went out front at the green and led until lap 7 when Shane Cottle passed him in turn two low for the lead. Cottle looked strong through the middle portion of the race until Bacon reloaded and made a successful run for the lead after the halfway mark. Brady was in command and looked like a sure winner until a late caution appeared and bunched the field back up. Coming off turn four on the last lap there was a wild scramble for the lead with Kevin Thomas Jr. somehow motoring around the top past a sliding Bacon to steal the win at the wire which had the remaining crowd in an uproar. What a finish!! It was especially sweet for the Gass family who are the owners of the mount Thomas drove to the win as it was their first ever sprint car win. Thomas has now won five races this year in four different mounts!! That is impressive! Bacon would finish as the bridesmaid for the second time on the evening with Cottle fending off Justin Grant for third with Robert Ballou passing Jarett Andretti with one to go to claim fifth. The final checker waved at 11:05 and for anyone with a long drive the night of racing surely gave them plenty to talk about and keep them awake as the rough and tumble surface was pleasing to the fans but a nightmare to the car owners who have to repair the damaged cars.


     

    Onto Lincoln Park for round three of Indiana midget week and check back tomorrow for an update. Get out there and enjoy some midweek short track racing in your area if available. Any quotes or comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    13th USAC Indiana Midget Speedweek Kicks Off At Montpelier

    Tuesday, June 6 - For us it is a long trip over to Montpelier Speedway as it is usually 2 hours and 15 minutes. Tack on another 15 minutes for road construction and rush hour traffic and you have a long, hectic trip. Thank goodness we have good friends from Pennsylvania and Florida with Zeke providing top row seats for us on the homestretch upon our arrival. Warmups were underway when we arrived and a half hour later time trials were underway. In another half hour Kyle Larson had set a new track record of 13.965 seconds around the 1/4 mile track to top the 41 car field. About halfway through time trials the track was dry and dusty and was a prelude of what was in store.

    USAC midget heats were first up with four on tap with four to qualify from each. Shane Golobic brought the Clauson/Marshall #17W home first in heat one turning back 6th starter, Kyle Larson, Alex Bright who moved from fifth to third on the last lap and Justin Peck as Tyler Thomas flubbed up and lost his chance at starting on the pole for the feature event. Heat two saw Tanner Thorson advancing from fourth to win over Tyler Courtney in a second Clauson/Marshall entry with Ronnie Gardner, the four time USAC Western States midget champion, crossing the line third with Chris Windom grabbing the last qualifying position. Heat three saw young Tanner Carrick bring the second Keith Kuntz entry to victory lane over New Zealand driver, Michael Pickens making his first speedweek appearance since 2014, came home second with Justin Grant third and Chad Boat powering into the top four late. Heat four saw the third Keith Kuntz entry driven by Lebanon's Spencer Bayston winning over Zach Daum, Jerry Coons Jr. and Brady Bacon making a fantastic move on the last lap to collar the final qualifying position. The midget heat racing was good considering the track conditions but the 19 car sprint car field who ran three heats next went huggy pole for their heats with passing at a premium. Chris Windom triumphed in heat one driving the Baldwin Brothers #5 over Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Pace machine and Kyle Simon. Heat two went to Jarett Andretti over Matt Goodnight and Colton Cottle. The third and final heat was won by Shane Cottle over Brady Bacon and Gary Rooke. After these heats the track was reworked and the delay was long extending between 45 minutes and an hour. The C main for the midgets was run after the track maintenance and was good with Chance Morton winning over Jake Neuman. The UMP modified heats ran next and by the time the midget B main took the green the dust had returned. Tyler Thomas won this one beating Ryan Robinson and Rico Abreu with Jimi Quin flipping over in turn four during the running of the B, the only flip of the evening.

    The schedule was rearranged with the 30 lap midget feature next up before the modified B main was run. It was 10:31 when the first green flag waved with Alex Bright going into the early lead. Zach Daum took up the chase and caught Bright off turn two for the lead on lap 4 but the caution waved negating the move for the lead. On the restart Bright, Courtney and Bacon went three wide for the lead and the battle was one. Courtney went low in turns one and two one lap later and grabbed the lead away. Bacon did a slide job on Bright in turns three and four to take second and took off after Courtney. Bacon attempted a slide job on Courtney but fell short and dropped back. By lap 10 Courtney had a straightway lead as he entered lap traffic. Courtney was looking good and held a healthy lead when Tyler Thomas stopped in turn four with three laps to go. On the ensuing restart a mad scamble occured behind Courtney among Bacon, Pickens, Bright and Larson who made a late surge to finish behind Pickens for third. Bacon slipped to fourth and Bright was the big loser dropping all the way back to fifth. The hard charger award went to Shane Golobic who charged from 14th to 6th. Courtney won his first ever USAC midget race and became the only driver in USAC history to win their first sprint and midget races during the respective speedweek competition. More importantly Courtney's win in the Clauson/Marshall livery snapped a seven race victory stranglehold on victory lane at Indiana midget week held by Keith Kuntz Motorsports dating back to 2015.

    The 25 lap wingless sprint car feature took the green flag at 11:09 after the modified B main with Brady Bacon jumping from first into the lead. Chris Windom came out of fourth to make several challenges on Bacon but he ws able to fend them off and pull away. In a ten minute feature with only one caution Bacon brought the Todd Keen #18 home first over Windom with Kevin Thomas Jr. third, Shane Cottle fourth and Isaac Chapple being the only sprinter finishing in the top five that started outside of the top five coming from tenth to grab fifth at the finish at 11:19.

    The 20 lap UMP modified feature went to Zeke McKenzie holding off Jamie Lomax and Tony Anderson for the win with the final checker waving at 11:36. To us the night was disappointing though there was some good racing in the heats and part of the midget feature but the track conditions really took away from it being an enjoyable night and the lateness was not good for a midweek show.

    Check back tomorrow for night two from Gas City running for the first time this year. So get out there and enjoy some good midweek short track racing in your area. Take care, be safe and as always thanks for reading.

     

     

    POWRI Speedweek Continues At Jacksonville, Macon & Lincoln

    Friday, June 2 - Another beautiful and sunny day greeted us on Friday as temperatures rose almost to 90 on this great day. Night three of Illinois midget speedweek awaited us at Jacksonville Speedway, a neat 1/4 mile dirt oval located on the fairgrounds with a large covered wooden grandstand running the entire distance of the homestretch and the large crowd seemed to fill most of the seats underneath. It was an all open wheel night with four divisions of POWRi competitors. The WAR East sprints brought 20 to the dance while the midgets packed the pit area with 37 entrants, the 600 micros had a grand field of 39 cars and the D2 midgets added 18 to the impressive overall total.

    Action kicked off at 7:22 with three heats for the sprints with Logan Faucon, Landon Simon who was headed to run with USAC at I-80 in Nebraska until trailer issues forced a day long repair and a visit to Jacksonville and Mario Clouser winning. Five heats were needed for the midgets with Zach Daum prevailing in heat one over Michael Pickens and Tyler Thomas in a real good race. Heat two saw Rico Abreu score the win going away over teammate, Tanner Thorson and Trey Marcham. Logan Seavey having a good series won heat three beating Zeb Wise and Brayton Lynch who will be gradulating from high school on Saturday. Ryan Robinson scored another win for the Keith Kuntz stables taking heat four over Andy Malpocker and Andrew Felker. Heat five went to Tucker Klaasmeyer besting Brad Loyet and Spencer Bayston. Five heats were run for the 600's with Craig Ronk, Nick Howard, Andy Bishop, Jackson Frisbie and Kole Kirkman from Kokomo, Indiana winning. Two heats were run for the D2 midgets with Brent Burrows and Chase McDermand winning. Jake Neuman and Tanner Carrick came back to win the two midget B mains.

    The 25 lap WAR East sprint car feature would be the first feature of the evening with Landon Simon going to the point on the green flag at 9:45. Lap 5 saw the first caution as Mario Clouser rolled to a stop in the infield with motor problems while running in the top five. Lap traffic played a role just passed the halfway mark as Andy Baugh closed in. The best battle was a dogfight for third among Terry Babb, Logan Faucon, Slater Helt and Joe B. Miller. Faucon and Babb made contact on lap 19 and another car also hit Faucon sending him spinning down pit road bringing out the second caution. Simon went out front on the restart with Babb slipping by Baugh for second on lap 21. The checkered waved four laps later on Simon with Babb trailing with Baugh third, Helt finishing fourth after starting tenth and Joe B. Miller rounding out the top five. The young Helt is a guy to watch as this is his first year in sprints after moving up from the micros the previous year. The 30 lap midget feature took the green flag at 10:18 with Tucker Klaasmeyer taking the early lead but the caution appeared quickly as Trey Marcham back his car hard into the turn three wall. Klaasmeyer went back out front and held sway until Michael Pickens passed him at the line to start lap four. Brayton Lynch brought out the red dumping the Rusty Kuntz #1K in turn two on lap 6 and walked away from the crash. Tyler Thomas brought out the second and last caution of the race on lap 14 when he stopped on the homestretch with mechanical woes. Tanner Thorson began to apply pressure to leader Pickens soon after and took the lead on lap 17 from the front runner. The amount of slide jobs going on throughout the field during the entire race was just amazing. Spencer Bayston also slipped by Pickens for second and chased after Thorson and what unfolded was a series of slide jobs between the two with Thorson able to fend off Bayston. On the white flag lap Bayston made one last try to try to unseat Thorson executing a slide job in turn one but Thorson countered with a crossover in turn two and held off the youngster for the remaining two turns to score his second straight POWRi win and 15th career POWRi victory. Pickens held on for third with Rico Abreu fourth and Zach Daum rounding out the top five.

    The 20 lap 600 feature was next up and this one was a dandy also. It went non-stop and Joe B. Miller caught and passed Craig Ronk in heavy lap traffic to take the lead late and go onto his 29th career POWRi 600 win with Nick Howard placing third in a fine run. It looked like the D2 midget feature was also going to go non-stop but one caution ruined that attempt. Andy Malpocker dominated this one winning over Gedd Ross and Broc Hunnell driving a numbered #F5 midget with a tornado painted on the side. Yes, you know you are in the midwest with a number like that!! The final checker flew at 11:10 on a fine night of racing, the best that we have witnessed so far with two nights still to go with all of the features being very competitive and exciting.

    Saturday, June 3 - Tonight's venture for Illinois midget speedweek would be the high banked 1/5 mile black dirt oval called the Macon Speedway. Macon is the essence of the term bullring as its smallness, high banks and seating in close proxsimity to the track itself makes it quite unique. There is seating almost all the way around the oval and there is not a bad seat in the house. There were five divisions on the card tonight with three POWRi ones and two local classes. A fine open wheel field of 36 national midgets, 37 600 micros and 20 D2 midgets filled the backstretch and turns one and two pit area for the racing action for the evening. The midgets would kick off the night with five heats with the first one taking the green flag at 7 PM. Shane Golobic who just flew in from California jumped into a second Clauson/Marshall entry and promptly went out and won the first heat over Brad Loyet and Chance Morton. Heat two saw Michael Pickens run on top of the cushion thorough turns one and two on his way to victory after starting sixth winning over Travis Young and Jake Blackhurst. Austin Brown brought his beautiful #7 home first over Zach Daum and Zeb Wise in heat three. Tucker Klaasmeyer who is looking stronger every time out commanded heat four over Logan Seavey and 13 year old Aidan Roosevans. The last heat was won by Andrew Felker beating Terry Babb and Tyler Thomas. Five heats were spun off for the 600's with winners as follows: Aaron Andruskevitch, Joe B. Miller, Eric Wright from Tennessee, Joey Wirth and Jake Hagopian from California. Three heat races were contested for the D2 midgets with AJ Hill, Andy Malpocker and Gedd Ross taking victories. National midget B mains were scored by Chance Morton and Jimi Quin.

    The 30 lap POWRi midget feature was the first one to the post taking the green flag at 10 with Michael Pickens taking command. The caution waved early as Logan Seavey slowed to a stop by the pit entrance in turn two on lap one. On the green Pickens went back to the point with most everyone else following in the high groove right up to the wall. Zach Daum moved from seventh starting spot into second on lap 2 and pursued and pressured the New Zealander the entire distance. The track rubbered over during the event and might have led to the numerous cautions in the race. Lap 10 saw Terry Babb slow on the backstretch while running in the top five and ending his evening early. Jake Neuman rolled over several times on the homestretch on lap 13 to bring out the red flag. Tyler Thomas' bad luck continued as he couldn't get his midget to fire after the red flag and was pushed into the infield. Chance Morton brought out the last caution on lap 22 when he got into the backstretch wall and stopped. Pickens would take his second checkered of the week over Daum with Zeb Wise third after starting eighth with Brad Loyet fourth and Shane Golobic rounding out the top five. Nick Howard became the 64th different driver to win a race in the 600 class since 2005 taking the lead from Luke Verardi in turn two on the white flag lap after starting 11th on the grid. Verardi finished a disappointing second with Garrett Duff third, Craig Ronk fourth and Joey Wirth finishing fifth. In the D2 midget division Andy Malpocker made it two straight winning over AJ Hill and Broc Hunnell, Andy Baugh from 19th and Shane Morgan. We had the opportunity to meet the 11th place finisher in this division, Mandy Chick from Kansas, at Cracker Barrel early and were impressed by her friendliness and good attitude. It was a decent night of racing but not up to classic Macon standards as the daytime temperatures took a toll on the racing surface.

    Sunday, June 4 - The temperatures soared into the low 90's on this partly cloudy day as the final round of Illinois midget speedweek would be contested at the 1/4 mile dirt oval located on the Logan County Fairgrounds in Lincoln. The five division card consisted of POWRi national midgets (27), POWRi 600's (22), POWRi D2 midgets (22), UMP modifieds (12) and pro late models (8) which were the only division that ran time trials beginning at 5:50. The national midgets were first up with their three heat races and the high flying action started right away as Trey Marcham took a wide ride flipping in turn one of heat one. Zach Daum had his front end clipped as he exited turn four and rolled over but was able to restart also in heat one. Michael Pickens came out of the eighth hole to win heat one over Austin Brown and Shane Golobic. Heat two saw Tucker Klaasmeyer advance from fourth to win over Tyler Thomas and ninth starting Andy Malpocker in a heat which saw Robert Dalby from California and Noah Key from Texas take hard tumbles in turns two and one respectively. They proceeded through heat three without any flips with Zeb Wise from second winning over Jake Neuman and Brad Loyet. The 600's ran three heat with Joe B. Miller, Eric Wright and Craig Ronk winning. The D2 midget heat winners were Gedd Ross, Austin Archdale and Andy Malpocker. Chris Baue out of Indiana took a wild several time end over end flip out of turn four ending up on the bigger track that circles the 1/4 mile and is used as access to the pit area. He was OK after the nasty series of flips.

    The high flying act continued into the POWRi midget feature as Devin Camfield went end over end in turn one on lap one. Michael Pickens who had the most passing points started first and fire off into the lead on the restart. He was on cruise control until lap 11 when Wisconsin's Cody Weisensel tested the catch fence in turn one bouncing off the top and back onto the racing surface. He was OK after this one also. While Pickens continued to race uncontested up front it was not the same for positions four through ten as the snarling pack of cars went at it tooth and nail. Zeb Wise was making up positions diamonding off turn two high and diving low down the backstretch moving into second around the half way mark. Wise would remain in second until Brad Loyet who had several encounters with others in the feature collided with the youngster and when Wise recovered he was back to second. In the meantime the sixth row starters, Logan Seavey and Shane Golobic were gaining ground and Seavey passed Loyet for second and took off after Pickens. Seavey was making up big chunks of real estate as he closed on the Kiwi. He pulled within feet of the rear nerf bar of Pickens until loosing some ground picking the wrong groove to pass a lap car. On the last lap entering turn three Seavey made a monster run and attempted a slide job on Pickens which only brought him side by side with the leader and slammed into the side of Pickens sending him into the fence and causing him to roll over. Luckily Pickens was able to right his machine and restart in the back of the field. It was not an intentional move but on the other hand it was not a smart one either. Even later in victory lane Seavey admitted it was not a good move on his part and he was sorry but Pickens who visited victory lane several minutes later was not accepting any apologies as he had words and wagged his finger at Seavey before returning to the pits. Lost in the wildness after the restart was Brad Loyet breaking on the backstretch while running third and ruining a good finish for the all time leader in POWRi midget competition with 34. The finish turned out to be Seavey home first in his first ever midget victory over Shane Golobic, Zach Daum, Tyler Thomas who finally got the monkey off his back and Tucker Klaasmeyer. Pickens finished 16th which left him in a tie for the speedweek title with Zach Daum but the tiebreaker was number of wins during the week so Pickens with two to Daum's zero gave Pickens the point championship.

    The 20 lap 600 micro feature turned out to be a real thriller with Nick Howard stealing the victory at the line in a photo finish when long time leader, Nathan Benson, refused to leave the bottom to pass a lap car and it cost him the victory by inches. It also gave Howard his 2nd career win in two nights. Jake Hagopian came from tenth to finish third with Travis Senter from ninth to fourth and Joey Wirth rounding out the top five. Gedd Ross would end Andy Malpocker's two straight win streak in the D2 final in which there was a double flip to boot. Malpocker would have to settle for second with Chase McDermand taking third. We stayed to watch the 15 lap UMP modified feature which was won by Allen Wissner in a strong run. It was close to 10 PM (11 ET) and with a 2 hour 15 minute drive home it was time to bid Dale and Gordy goodbye and hit the pavement.

    We really enjoyed the five days of Illinois speedweek racing and appreciate the hospitality shown to us by POWRi owner, Kenny Brown, and his entire staff. The racing was real good and hats off to the quick wrecker services provided by the POWRi gang and the locals also pitching in with their push trucks and tow trucks.

    It is a short one day break and right into six straight nights of USAC Indiana Midget week and check back for reports from the action from this always enjoyable and competitive week of midget racing with the sprint cars as the second division on the card. Until next time remember comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

     

    First Two Stops (Joliet & Fairbury) On The POWRi Midget Illinois Speedweek

    Wednesday, May 31 - We choose the leisurely backroad route up to Joliet, Illinois avoiding all the hustle bustle of the interstates and bypassing Chicago and arrived after a hassle free 2 hour forty minute cruise. Wisconsin native, Jack Erdman, and former Wisconsin resident, Dale O'Brien waved to us from the massive aluminum grandstands and we joined them for the evening's races. The POWRI national midgets, WAR East wingless sprints, POWRi D2 midgets and UMP modifieds would be racing tonight on the 3/8 mile dirt oval known as the Dirt Oval @Route 66, part of the large Chicagoland Speedway complex which consists of the big asphalt track, the dirt oval and a large drag strip on tons of acreage. The UMP modifieds would be the only division running time trials on the night and they were group qualifying with three cars on the track at the same time. More organizations should adopt this time trial process as it only took 10 minutes to qualify 25 modifieds. Kenny Wallace in his first ever appearance here set fast time with a time of 18.777 seconds around the big 3/8 mile. The POWRi midgets ran three heats for their 24 car field with New Zealand multi-time national midget champion, Michael Pickens, drawing first blood with a heat one victory over Ryan Robinson and Rico Abreu. Heat two saw young California driver, Logan Seavey, in the Brown #4A defeating Tucker Klaasmeyer and Jodie Robinson, a young female racer out of California also. The third heat saw Tyler Thomas take top honors over Spencer Bayston and Tanner Carrick. The UMP modifieds ran two heats with former NASCAR drivers, Kenny Wallace and David Stremme winning. The WAR East sprints ran two heats for their disappointing 12 car field with "Super" Mario Clouser and Ohio's Landon Simon winning. The final division of the evening was the D2 midgets with two heats for their 15 car field with Aaron Schuck and Brad Grimm triumphing. All heat qualifying was completed by 8:40 and no B mains were needed so after some extensive track maintenance we were ready for the main events

    The midgets would get the honor of running first since it is their speedweek and the green flag waved at 9:24. Michael Pickens moved to the point from his first starting position and everyone else took chase. Though Pickens was challenged several times by several opponents he never gave up the top spot. The biggest challenge came from Spencer Bayston on lap 20 when he dove low in turn two but caught the inside berm, turned right and took a series of side over side mixed with end over end flips finally coming to rest against the outside wall standing on his tail tank. Bayston was OK after his nasty flip before the same could not be said for the Keith Kuntz #97. Pickens would race the last five laps unchallenged and flash under the waving checkered flag winning his ninth career POWRi national midget victory over Rico Abreu who started tenth, Ryan Robinson, Logan Seavey and Tanner Thorson who advanced from 11th. Next up was the 25 lap UMP modified feature with $3000 to win. Allen Weisser ran a strong race to beat David Stremme and Jacob Poel to the line. The WAR East sprint cars were next to the post and this turned out to be the best feature of the evening even though only 11 cars started with Thomas Meseraull never making the track after hot laps. At the green rookie, Slater Helt from Harrisonville, MO took the early lead over Landon Simon. Helt continued to lead even extending it over Simon and Mario Clouser. By lap 9 the leaders encountered slower traffic and Simon took advantage passing Helt for the lead. On lap 11 Simon had trouble with some lap traffic and Helt made an aggressive move to retake the lead in a surprise. The first caution appeared on lap 13 when Mitch Wissmiller stopped in turns three and four. Clouser moved by Simon on the restart to take second and pounced on Helt on lap 15 to take the lead and Simon passed Helt for second one lap later. Clouser looked like he was on his way to his first career WAR victory until a bolt on the frame worked loose and caused the left side to drop. He slowed enough for Simon to make a big run off turn four and nip Clouser at the line for the win. Terry Babb charged by Helt with a power move into turn one on the last restart and finished third with Helt fourth and Korey Weyant rounding out the top five. It was now 10:53 and with an hour and a half ride to our hotel in Normal we bid farewell to Jack and Dale and headed for the exits satisfied with our first night of action on the Illinois midget speedweek.

    Thursday, June 1 - We awoke to a beautiful day in Normal, Illinois for the second day of Illinois midget speedweek. Later in the day we made the short half hour drive over to the small town of Fairbury where the racing action would take place at the fairgrounds where the Fairbury American Legion Speedway is located. Joining us this evening in addition to Dale would be trackchasers Allan and Nancy Brown along with Gordy Killian so some spirited bench racing would take place also. We also spotted our buddy, Phil , from the New Castle, Indiana area and invited us to join the gang for the night of fun. Thirty three midgets made the tow to Fairbury and kicked off the evening with four heat races. Fourteen year old Zeb Wise would collar heat one over Tanner Thorson and Austin Brown. Michael Pickens claimed heat two beating Rico Abreu and Tyler Thomas. Logan Seavey notched heat three over Jake Neuman and Andrew Felker. Austrialian Jimi Quin looked good in heat four winning over Tanner Carrick and Jake Blackhurst in which Jodie Robinson was the victim of a bad slide job and pushed into the turn four wall where she flipped over. Her older brother, Ryan, also took a tumble in turn three trying a slide job when he caught the wall and went over in another of the Keith Kuntz stable who has had their share of repair work in the first two nights of speedweek action. Mitch Wissmiller won heat one of the WAR East sprint cars over surprise entrant, Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Pace #44, and Terry Babb. Heat two saw Dustin Smith of Russiaville, Indiana score the win over Logan Faucon and Joe B. Miller. The consistent Kory Weyant won heat three beating out Mario Clouser and Bret Tripplett in an improved count of 19 entrants. Shane Morgan and Mitchell Davis were the heat winners in D2 action over the rest of the 16 car field. Twenty two UMP modifieds rounded out the four division card with Kenny Wallace, Ray Bollinger and Mike McKinney winning. Only the national midgets needed a B Main and all time leading POWRi victor, Brad Loyet (34), copped this race.

    By 9:26 it was time for the 30 lap POWRi midget feature with Michael Pickens jumping into the early lead. The red appeared on lap three when Austin Brown took a mean flip down the backstretch and the good news was that he was OK after the scary tumble. After the restart a dandy battle up front developed with Tanner Thorson taking command from Pickens but only briefly as Zeb Wise went low and grabbed the top spot. One lap later Rico Abreu drove to the cushion and assumed command. Abreu pulled away and led the next 13 laps until Zeb Wise caught the second turn wall and flipped end over end to bring out the second red on lap 24. On the restart Abreu went back out front and looked like a sure winner but Thorson had other plans. He issued a monster slide job diving down low in turns three and four and sliding right in front of Abreu for the lead. Rico tried to counter yanking his car to the left but Pickens was there and the two collided with Abreu looking like a pinball sliding to the right allowing his other teammate, Spencer Bayston, to slip by also. Thorson raced to the checker with Pickens and Bayston in tow with Abreu recovering for fourth with Andrew Felker rounding out the top five. It was a wild finish.

    The action was far from over as the WAR East sprints hit the track for their 25 lap feature at 10:06. Kevin Thomas Jr. came out of the sixth hole to take the lead as the field came to the line to start lap two and powered away. Mitch Wissmiller took up the chase running in second. Thomas encountered lap traffic on lap ten with Wissmiller and third runner, Mario Clouser, closing in on the leader. The yellow would wave on lap 17 when debris appeared in turn one and Mitch Wissmiller was caught up in an accident which collapsed his front end and caused his evening to end in disappointment while running second. Clouser moved into the runnerup position and applied heavy pressure on Thomas trying several slide jobs without success. Lap 21 saw another tangle with Terry Babb running in the top five get the worst of it and he was done for the evening. Clouser continued to dog Thomas over the remaining four laps and went for one last slide job entering turn three on the last lap. The attempt wasn't even close as Clouser drove hard into the side of Thomas taking them both into the fence and buckling Thomas' front end as Corey Weyant dove underneath the melee and drove to victory in a shocker over Slater Helt who started 10th, Joe B. Miller, Bret Tripplett and Andy Baugh who recovered from an earlier spin for fifth. Needless to say Thomas was not too happy about the late turn of events and had a heated discussion with Clouser.

    All was not finished yet as we had two other features to contest with the 20 lap D2 midget feature next up. This one was a very good one as it went green to checker without any interruptions. Mitchell Davis came home first in this hotly contested race with tenth starter, Aaron Schuck, claiming second with Brent Burrows taking the show positon. The 25 lap UMP modified feature was last on the card with Ray Bollinger and Allen Weisser putting on a fine display of clean driving dueling with each other for the top spot over a good portion of the event never touching each other while running side by side. Weisser took the lead from Bollinger but Ray never gave up and inched forward and ended up driving back by Weisser to claim the final checker which waved at 11:22. Good racing with good friends, it doesn't get much better than that!!

    Check back soon as another installment documenting the remaining three events on the Illinois midget speedweek docket will be coming your way. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing wherever you end up. Remember any comments or quotes can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy bringing them to you.

     

     

     

     

       Contact Pat & Bruce at bruce.eckel@comcast.net

     


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