Defending Winter Nationals Champion Thatcher Tops In UMP Modified Main BARBERVILLE, FL -- Reigning Florida Winter Nationals points king Craig Thatcher returned to his winning ways Wednesday night as he scored his first United Midwestern...
Defending Winter Nationals Champion Thatcher Tops In UMP Modified Main
BARBERVILLE, FL -- Reigning Florida Winter Nationals points king Craig Thatcher returned to his winning ways Wednesday night as he scored his first United Midwestern Promoters Open Wheel Modified victory of the 2005 season at Volusia Speedway Park.
Despite leading every circuit in the 25-lap U.M.P. Modified main, the $700 winner's share was never guaranteed until the checkered flag waved.
"We probably didn't have the fastest car tonight but when there's heavy traffic to deal with you never know what can happen," said Thatcher, after surviving a late-race mishap to secure the dramatic victory. "You tend to feel more comfortable running out front although second-place proved to be a better spot tonight late in the race."
Thatcher started outside front row after winning the second qualifying and proceeded to hold down the point throughout the feature. On paper the final result appeared to be total dominance yet with less than seven laps Thatcher's triumph almost turned into defeat.
While the 2004 WISSOTA National Modified champion easily paced the 24-car field, 14th-place starter Steve Arpin methodically maneuvered his way forward around the fast Volusia County half-miler. By the midway mark, opening night winner Arpin was gaining ground quickly on Thatcher, who was looking to improve upon his runner-up finish from the previous night. A turn three crash right in front left him no room to escape and the Canadian's bid for a second straight U.M.P. victory ultimately ended in the pits.
Thatcher remained the leader despite his open-wheel mount suffering a bent left front end. And there the Wisconsin warrior remained for the next three miles with second-generation Illinois pilots Tommie Seets, Jr. and Gary Cook, Jr., Myron DeYoung and Don Kigel completing the top-five at the stripe.
The runner-up finish for Seets, whose uncle John Seets claimed the 1994 U.M.P. National Open Wheel Modified Championship while father Tom Sr. is a past Florida Winter Nationals champion, marked the start of just the second full season of racing for this Southern Illinois upstart.
Through two of six scheduled races run, Thatcher (120) tops the Florida Tour standings followed by Arpin (84), Gary Clark (68), Seets (68), opening night third-place finisher Steve Wetter (62) and Julia McDermitt (62), who placed fifth in Tuesday's lid-lifter. Competition proved even stiffer on Wednesday as of the 72 teams signed in, only 11 drivers qualified for their second straight feature race while seven of Tuesday's top-10 finishers failed even to make the show.
U.M.P. Modifieds reach the halfway mark of the 34th Winter Nationals on Thursday when they return to Volusia for round three of the six-race Florida tour. Open-wheel action concludes with a 30-lap feature race finale on Sunday, Feb. 13.
SUMMARY EVENT NO. 2
FEATURE (250x00adLAPS): 91-CRAIG THATCHER, 16-Tommie Seets,Jr., 64-Gary Cook,Jr., 7d-Myron DeYoung, 01k-Don Kiger, 24-Brad Waits, 27-Roger Moshier, 2w-George White, t3-Greg Baumberger, 1a-Chad Ohnstad, 7j-Johnny DeYoung, 12s-Jesse Snyder, Q-Joey Jensen, 2a-Tim Adams, 77-Jim Shipman, 00-Steve Arpin, 17w-Heath Weston, 4g-Gary Clark, 6b-Brandon Green, 85d-Mark Dotson, 77k-Joey Kramer, 1f-Floyd Jordan, 13h-Tony Hofbauer, 75-Eric Scribner.
HEAT 1: Jordan, Cook, Scribner, Jensen.
HEAT 2: Thatcher, Baumberger, Arpin, J.DeYoung.
HEAT 3: Weston, Adams, Snyder, Scott Duval.
HEAT 4: Seets, Moshier, M.DeYoung, Shipman.
HEAT 5: Clark, Kramer, Kiger, Robert Pierce.
HEAT 6: Dotson, Hofbauer, Waits, Brent Glastetter.
CONSI 1: Jensen, Shipman, David McWilliams, Larry Cunningham.
CONSI 2: J.DeYoung, Ohnstad, Mark Trautner, Jason Miller.
CONSI 3: Green, White, Brad Miller, Julia McDermitt.
WINTER NATIONALS U.M.P. MODIFIED POINT STANDINGS (Top-10): 120-Craig Thatcher, 84-Steve Arpin, 68-Gary Clark and Tommie Seets,Jr., 62-Steve Wetter and Julia McDermott, 61-Gary Cook,Jr., 55-Myron DeYoung, 54-George White, 52-Don Kiger