IPS: Chicagoland: Hemelgarn/Johnson Motorsports race notes

Fike captures first victory, Witherill 13th. Joliet, Ill. - Hemelgarn/Johnson Motorsports driver Aaron Fike secured his first Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series victory in front of a hometown crowd Sunday afternoon, winning the Chicagoland 100 at...

Fike captures first victory, Witherill 13th.

Joliet, Ill. - Hemelgarn/Johnson Motorsports driver Aaron Fike secured his first Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series victory in front of a hometown crowd Sunday afternoon, winning the Chicagoland 100 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Fike, of Galesburg, Ill., led the remaining 18 laps to take the checkered flag .0755 of a second ahead of runner up Arie Luyendyk Jr. Teammate Cory Witherill finished a disappointing 13th despite a strong performance during the first half of the 67-lap event.

"This race was phenomenal," said a pumped up Fike. "Any of the top six guys could have won the race. Arie and me were lucky enough to be up front there. I was definitely worried about him. I was looking in my mirror the whole time."

Fike, 19, wisely utilized the draft to propel his No. 91 Hemelgarn Racing/Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone toward the front of the field. With Witherill tucked up behind him, Aaron initially led four laps before being shuffled to fifth. He fought to regain his position prior to the only caution flag of the day, brought out by Ryan Hampton. It was on the restart that Fike, a USAC standout, screamed past the competition and never looked back.

"The week I've had is just incredible. This victory is just really, really sweet."

In addition to moving up to fifth in the series points standings, Fike was crowned the Badger Midget Series champion last weekend at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Wisc.

Navajo Witherill gave his usual consistent effort, running in the top-five for the first half of the race. But as his engine power faded so did Witherill's track position. Finally, Cory retired his No. 92 WSA Healthcare entry with two laps remaining. For the second consecutive event, the former off-road champion suffered engine misfortunes.

"It started off to be a pretty good race for us," Witherill said. "We were going back between fourth and third. I just tried to stay with the group. Aaron and I hooked up, and we just started drafting together and pushing each other up. Then shortly after that, my engine just started falling down and I couldn't stay up with Aaron. In the last few laps, it finally went away, and I just couldn't keep going."

Despite three podium finishes, including his Nashville win, Cory just has not been able to withstand a backset of three DNF's (did not finish). Currently, Witherill is fourth in points.

The season finale will conclude next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway September 14.

-hjm-

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