Clermont, IN, May 24, 2003 - Aaron Fike started from the pole in tonight's 58th Night Before the 500 USAC Midget race, and never looked back. He was in full command on the initial start and each of four restarts during the 50 lap National ...
Clermont, IN, May 24, 2003 - Aaron Fike started from the pole in tonight's 58th Night Before the 500 USAC Midget race, and never looked back. He was in full command on the initial start and each of four restarts during the 50 lap National Championship race, and maintained a comfortable buffer ahead of second place. Fading brakes gave him some concern on the final restart ten laps from the end, but the buffer of a lapped car behind him provided the margin he needed.
"I knew after the first lap we were going to be good all race. It's a 50 lapper and you have to conserve your tires. We had an awesome car. I just want to thank Ed Pink, with Ford, Hoosier tires, and everyone on our crew. Lee Kunzman has been a tremendous help to me this whole year. He worked on my Infiniti Pro series car. He's been tremendous. Gonzo, Jeff Fogel, my crew chief, everybody - it's been just unbelievable."
Tracy Hines, who finished second, had a frustrating evening. He was in the top four all night, and moved to the runner up spot after the final restart, but could not challenge for the win because of a freak mechanical problem.
"The Mopar engine was running great," Hines said. "Aaron did a good job. But a 50 cent hose clamp pretty much cost us. My weight jacker fell off the car, and a hose clamp got under my throttle pedal. Unfortunately that's why I couldn't restart a couple of times, and guys ran into me. I had something under my throttle pedal and I just couldn't push it."
Bobby East, who has been building consistency into his program this year, took third place.
"We try to get a top five every time," East said. "It really helps when you have a good team beam behind you. Kelley Drake really prepared that Ford Racing Beast good tonight, and I wound up with a podium finish."
J.J Yeley, fresh from his $50,000 Hoosier Double Bonus in Silver Crown, was very racy tonight. He qualified fastest, which put him in sixth place for the start in the inverted lineup. In the early part of the race, running fifth, he put on a spectacular show looking under Jason Leffler in fourth. Several times he got ahead with a flyer underneath, but would slip high and lose the spot out of the turn. He eventually passed Leffler on the outside on a restart. The hard running took its toll, though, and he faded to sixth by the end. He still maintains the lead in the championship race, with 392 points to Bobby East's 390.
The next USAC National Midget Car Series will be at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, Speedway on June 1.