Pickens Prevails at The Park
The Wheatley Chronicles – Volume V, No. 23
Lonnie Wheatley, PUTNAMVILLE, Ind. (June 8, 2017) – Spencer Bayston only thought he was about to deliver the Keith Kunz Racing team its first USAC National Midget victory of 2017 in Thursday night’s 30-lap Indiana Midget Week feature at Lincoln Park Speedway.
But the Kiwi had other ideas, as he was simply toying with Bayston’s emotions.
After some frenetic closing rounds that featured a barrage of lead exchanges, Michael Pickens stole the win in the final corner for his Indiana Midget Week win in as many nights and fourth overall win in the last nine nights after snaring a pair of POWRi Illinois Midget Week wins that led the way into the Hoosier State.
In the companion Sprint Car feature, Chris Windom survived a late attack from Chad Boespflug and then a last-lap charge from Kevin Thomas, Jr., to pick up the win in the 25-lapper.
After establishing the night’s quick time, Pickens seemed in peril over much of the 30-lap feature event. The Auckland, NZ, racer languished back in sixth past the midway point before he started rallying through the field over the final half of the race.
Meanwhile out front, Pennsylvania’s Alex Bright paced the opening dozen circuits from the pole position before Lebanon, IN, shoe Bayston battled past on the high side to take command before the first four latter-half of the race cautions appeared.
Pickens rallied from sixth after a lap 16 caution all the way up to third after a lap 21 caution and then disposed of Chad Boat for second. Pickens was already challenging Bayston for the point when one last caution set up a five-lap dash to the stripe.
Bayston took off on the restart and momentarily looked to be in the clear. But Pickens kept digging, reeling the leader back in to set up a spectacular final pair of laps in which the duo swapped the lead a handful of times.
Using each other to the extreme yet staying within the boundaries of clean, hard racing, Pickens dove under Bayston exiting the final corner to notch another win just a car-length ahead of Bayston.
Eighth with just nine laps to go after gridding the field in 20th, “Sunshine” Tyler Courtney gained momentum throughout that carried him all the way up to third and just a couple laps shy of throwing his Clauson-Marshall Racing hat into the lead mix.
Battling among the top five throughout, Rico Abreu crossed the stripe in fourth before winning the 1200-cc Mini Sprint feature with Justin Grant rounding out the top five.
Series: USAC Indiana Midget Week
Track: Lincoln Park Speedway (Putnamville, IN)
Car Count: 37
Quick Time: Michael Pickens 13.036
Heat Winners (starting position in parentheses): Ronnie Gardner (2), Tanner Carrick (3), Alex Bright (4), Zach Daum (1).
Heat Moments: Courtney Crone ate a right rear off turn four and went for a ride down the frontstretch in the first heat.
“B” Main Winner (starting position in parentheses): Shane Golobic (2).
Best Supporting Role: Give it to “Big Daddy” Chris Windom who battled past Brady Short for the early lead and then beat Kevin Thomas, Jr., to the stripe by a car-length in another close finish on the night.
“A” Main Cautions: Four
15 Laps – The first yellow flag flies at the midway point when Tyler Thomas turns it around in turn two. Thomas ended up 15th and was running second in the Sprint Car feature at one point before problems forced him pitside.
16 Laps – Gage Walker goes for a spin in turn three with Brayton Lynch joining in on the fun.
21 Laps – Tanner Thorson and Ronnie Gardner get together in turn two. Thorson calls it a night.
25 Laps – After battling among the top five most of the way, Brent Beauchamp comes to a stop off of turn three as he tries to exit the Raceway.
“A” Main Hard Charger: Tyler Courtney rounded out the podium in third after starting way back in 20th.
The Box Score…
USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 8, 2017 – Putnamville, Indiana – Lincoln Park Speedway – 13th “Indiana Midget Week”
PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Michael Pickens, 1NZ, Seamount-13.036; 2. Brady Bacon, 76m, FMR-13.133; 3. Spencer Bayston, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.150; 4. Ryan Robinson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.159; 5. Rico Abreu, 21, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.218; 6. Shane Golobic, 17w, Clauson-Marshall/Wood-13.227; 7. Steve Buckwalter, 25B, Buckwalter-13.262; 8. Chance Morton, 7MF, Morton-13.322; 9. Chad Boat, 84, Tucker/Boat-13.349; 10. Brent Beauchamp, 11B, B & B-13.360; 11. Alex Bright, 77, Bright-13.369; 12. Jerry Coons Jr., 25, Petry/Goff-13.375; 13. Courtney Crone, 25c, Rodela-13.379; 14. Tanner Carrick, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.387; 15. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-13.394; 16. Justin Grant, 39BC, Clauson/Marshall-13.424; 17. Ronnie Gardner, 25x, Rodela-13.485; 18. Brenden Bright, 92, Bright-13.486; 19. Gage Walker, 7, Walker-13.508; 20. Dave Darland, 11, Gray-13.545; 21. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.546; 22. Ryan Greth, 4R, Lesher-13.566; 23. Michael Koontz, 17K, Koontz-13.574; 24. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-13.587; 25. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall-13.588; 26. Brayton Lynch, 1K, RKR-13.602; 27. Jake Neuman, 3N, Neuman-13.646; 28. Davey Ray, 33, Team RAYPRO-13.659; 29. Jimi Quin, 8GQ, Quin-13.702; 30. Holly Shelton, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.731; 31. Trey Marcham, 32, Marcham-13.946; 32. Kade Morton, 8m, Morton-14.286; 33. Cole Fehr, 15F, Live Loud-14.464; 34. Kyle Jones, 04, Hefler-14.773; 35. Paul Raynes, 7x, Seven-15.095; 36. Andrew Felker, 37, Felker-NT; 37. Tony DiMattia, 50, DiMattia-NT
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Gardner, 2. Abreu, 3. Thorson, 4. Pickens, 5. Courtney, 6. Boat, 7. Quin, 8. Fehr, 9. Crone. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION, INC. (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Carrick, 2. Beauchamp, 3. Bacon, 4. Greth, 5. Golobic, 6. B. Bright, 7. Shelton, 8. Lynch, 9. Jones. NT
CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. A. Bright, 2. Bayston, 3. Walker, 4. Thomas, 5. Koontz, 6. Buckwalter, 7. Neuman, 8. Marcham, 9. Raynes. NT
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Daum, 2. Grant, 3. Darland, 4. Coons, 5. Robinson, 6. C. Morton, 7. K. Morton, 8. Ray. 2:17.52
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Golobic, 2. Courtney, 3. Boat, 4. Shelton, 5. Robinson, 6. Lynch, 7. B. Bright, 8. Quin, 9. Neuman, 10. Jones, 11. Fehr, 12. Raynes, 13. Koontz, 14. Buckwalter, 15. Marcham, 16. K. Morton, 17. C. Morton. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Michael Pickens (6), 2. Spencer Bayston (4), 3. Tyler Courtney (20), 4. Rico Abreu (3), 5. Justin Grant (13), 6. Shane Golobic (8), 7. Chad Boat (9), 8. Brady Bacon (5), 9. Alex Bright (1), 10. Jerry Coons, Jr. (10), 11. Ryan Robinson (7), 12. Zach Daum (19), 13. Dave Darland (16), 14. Holly Shelton (22), 15. Tyler Thomas (12), 16. Tanner Carrick (11), 17. Brayton Lynch (21), 18. Ronnie Gardner (14), 19. Brent Beauchamp (2), 20. Tanner Thorson (17), 21. Gage Walker (15), 22. Ryan Greth (18). NT
**Felker flipped during qualifying. Crone flipped during the first heat.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-12 A. Bright, Laps 13-28 Bayston, Laps 29-30 Pickens
KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Tyler Courtney (20th to 3rd)
WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Dave Darland
PROSOURCE HARD WORK AWARD: Holly Shelton
NEW USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Bacon-421, 2-Bayston-380, 3-Golobic-331, 4-Grant-330, 5-Thorson-330, 6-Courtney-291, 7-Coons-276, 8-A. Bright-260, 9-Boat-254, 10-Thomas-237.
NEW USAC INDIANA MIDGET WEEK POINTS: 1-Pickens-236, 2-Bacon-205, 3-Bayston-194, 4-Golobic-180, 5-Courtney-178, 6-Abreu-178, 7-A. Bright-167, 8-Grant-162, 9-Thorson-155, 10-Boat-147.
The Wheatley Chronicles brings insight and highlights from all variety of racing series throughout the nation in 2017 and beyond along with the Open Wheel Power Rankings on a regular basis. Please send any comments, questions or advertising inquiries regarding The Wheatley Chronicles at www.sprintcarmania.com and www.midgetmadness.com to Lonnie Wheatley at email@example.com.