Indianapolis Report

NEWMAN CONTINUES MASTERY OF INDIANAPOLIS RACEWAY PARK CLERMONT, IN, August 18, 1999 - It isn't often that something besides auto racing invades the tough confines of ...

NEWMAN CONTINUES MASTERY OF INDIANAPOLIS RACEWAY PARK CLERMONT, IN, August 18, 1999 - It isn't often that something besides auto racing invades the tough confines of Indianapolis Raceway Park but that's what happened Wednesday evening at the annual Mel Kenyon Classic for the USAC MCI WORLDCOM National Midgets. It was baseball, not racing, that had the crowd abuzz as it was announced that Brownsburg, the next town west of the expanding speed plant, and its team of 12 year olds had just beaten Chicago Westlawn for the Little League Central Region Tournament Championship and won thereby the right to advance to the World Series in Williamsport, PA. The local team faces Phenix City, Alabama on Monday at 1:00 p.m.EST and does it on national television (ESPN2). The baseball story wasn't the only thing that kept the crowd active. Two young lasses, both of them named Sarah, were duking it out with the lads on the race track, . Sarah Fisher qualified fourth, won the semi, and led the Mel Kenyon feature four laps in the early going before being forced to pit on lap 17. Sarah McCune qualified thirteenth, finished third in the semi, and eleventh in the feature. With only five laps gone in the 40 lap feature an eight car mele broke out in turn one when Dave Darland was jammed down to the apron, spun, and took seven others with him. All eight were parked on the Jaguar turn out and the feature turned into a very long heat race as only 15 cars could answer the green for the restart. Never out of the hunt and driving conservatively but fast, Ryan Newman claimed the victory over points leader Jason Leffler. Newman had survived the sixth lap crash and led for laps 5-9 as Leffler applied pressure hoping to cause Newman to heat his right rear, a popular tactic at IRP. But Newman would have none of it and yielded the lead to Leffler for the next 17 laps. With the ten-to-go mark nearing Newman turned up the wick on his C.E Lewis Drinan 39 and passed Leffler in his Steve Lewis 91 on lap 29. Jerry Coons, Jr. watched all this from his third running position for 30 laps but could not improve. He soldiered home third ahead of John Nervo. Tar Heel driver Ryan Scott took fifth place money back to N.Carolina. Michael Lewis, Clay Klepper, Travis Welpott, and Joe Janowski were the last cars running. Honored at the event were National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame 1999 inductees Neal Carter, Ed 'Dutch' Schaefer Fred Offenhauser, and Willard 'Bill' Cantrell. Carter joined other former inductees Leroy Warriner, Bob Higman, Don and Mel Kenyon, Duke Nalon, and Carolyn Hartley, the widow of Gene Hartley, in an autograph session for the attending crowd. The National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame, Inc., an idea of John Stiles, is now privately governed, having been granted its independence by USAC under whose aegis and the efforts of Donald Davidson it was nurtured since 1984. There are now some seventy members of the hall which is currently seeking endowments to create a permanent site to house the many offerings of memorabilia they cannot now accept for lack of a proper location to archive the material. Bill Hill is currently President of the hall and Ed Watson is Executive Director.

The evening was blessed with cool summer breezes and despite a drop or two, no rain, and a beautiful new grandstand and corporate suites courtesy of NHRA and IRP which lent even more dignity to the occasion. Len in Indy

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About this article
Series USAC
Drivers Ryan Newman , Michael Lewis , Ryan Scott , John Nervo , Dave Darland , Bill Hill , Joe Janowski , Sarah McCune , Clay Klepper
Teams Williams