NATIONAL/16TH STREET/SPEEDROME MIDGET SERIES GERSTER STORMS THE "CASTLE," HEADS FOR "HUT" & "PUT" WED./SAT. SLUSS, LANG BATTLE FOR 1998 SPEEDROME TITLE THURSDAY NIGHT Brian Gerster of Indianapolis, Ind. scored...
NATIONAL/16TH STREET/SPEEDROME MIDGET SERIES
GERSTER STORMS THE "CASTLE," HEADS FOR "HUT" & "PUT" WED./SAT. SLUSS, LANG BATTLE FOR 1998 SPEEDROME TITLE THURSDAY NIGHT
Brian Gerster of Indianapolis, Ind. scored his first USAC triumph since recovering from injuries suffered in a late-1997 racing accident, leading the final six laps of Sunday night's 40-lap feature at the Mount Lawn Speedway in New Castle, Ind. He passed series point leader Jason Leffler on lap 35 and led the rest of the way in his Rite-Way Industries Brayton to beat Leffler, Dane Carter, Gene Lee Gibson and Tracy Hines. Leffler takes a 20-point lead into this Wednesday night's 46th Hoosier Lottery "Hut Hundred" at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track. The Midgets then compete Saturday night at the Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind. A 100-lap feature caps Wednesday night's nationally-televised (ESPN2) race at Terre Haute and a 40-lapper is on tap at Putnamville. Willoughby Racing teammates Drake and Ricky Shelton, second and third respectively in the series standings, both spun during the New Castle feature and came from the back on restarts to take seventh and eighth respectively. Practice at both venues this week starts at 5 p.m., with qualifying at 6. Racing at the Action Track starts at 8 p.m., while the Lincoln Park races begin at 7. A pair of "qualifying races" will precede the Terre Haute 100-lapper, which starts 33 cars, three-abreast! Leffler captured the "Hut Hundred" enroute to last year's National Midget title and a victory Wednesday could serve a similar purpose this year. A total of 10 races, counting the two this week, remain on the 1998 National Midget calendar, which concludes in California in November. Previous "Hut Hundred" champions expected to compete Wednesday, including Leffler, are Kevin Olson (1996), Tony Stewart (1993 & 1995), Kevin Doty (1994), Steve Knepper (1992) and John Heydenreich (1987). Doty still holds the 1-lap track qualifying record of 21.500 seconds set in 1994. John Sluss and Michael Lang will duke it out for the 1998 Indianapolis Speedrome Midget Series championship in this Thursday night's 50-lap series finale at the 1/5-mile paved oval. Sluss vaulted into title contention with his fifth victory of the season last Thursday night, while, Lang, who has six wins this year, finished last (15th) following a frightening flip over the wall in turn three on the opening lap of the 50-lap feature. Lang was not injured. A victory Thursday by either driver would earn the title, which would mean a fifth in a row for Lang and a first for Sluss. Gregg Cory, John Mount, Brad Kuhn and Dean Franklin rounded out the "top-five" at the checkered flag. Lang also leads the standings in the 16th Street Speedway Midget Series, which resumes action this Friday night in Indianapolis with a 30-lap feature on tap on the 1/4-mile dirt track.
National Midget Standings: 1-Jason Leffler-696; 2-Jay Drake-676; 3-Ricky Shelton-619; 4-Jerry Coons, Jr.-491; 5-Jimmy McCune-439; 6-Tracy Hines-394; 7-Ronnie Johncox-289; 8-Travis Welpott-249; 9-Dave Steele-243; 10-Michael Lewis-219.
16th Street Midget Standings: 1-Michael Lang-240; 2-Andy Pierce-203; 3-Ron Smoker-188; 4-Critter Malone-180; 5-Rick Treadway-171; 6-Roy Caruthers-163; 7-Steve Knepper-149; 8-Johnny Parsons III-148; 9-David Bridges-144; 10-Jeff Hampton-143.
Speedrome Midget Standings: 1-Michael Lang-6,700; 2-John Sluss-6,300; 3-Dean Franklin-2,140; 4-Gregg Cory-2,110; 5-Norm Young-2,050; 6-Brad Kuhn-1,975; 7-John Mount-1,800; 8-Daryl Campbell-1,790; 9-Ron Hamm-1,660; 10-Robbie Parish-1,320.