IMCA: I-55 Night of Stars report

Pevely, MO (July 31, 2002) A huge crowd turned out on a very hot day for the first annual M&M Night of Stars charity event, which was held to raise money for the Victory Junction Gang Camp founded by Kyle and Pattie Petty. The crowd began arriving...

Pevely, MO (July 31, 2002) A huge crowd turned out on a very hot day for the first annual M&M Night of Stars charity event, which was held to raise money for the Victory Junction Gang Camp founded by Kyle and Pattie Petty. The crowd began arriving early Wednesday morning in anticipation of this event. Co-promoter Ray Marler said there were cars lined up to get into the parking lot at 6:30a.m. when he arrived at the track. The steady arrival of fans flowed in all day as they all came eagerly to see NASCAR drivers Kyle Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Bill Elliott, Johnny Benson, Steve Park, Mike Wallace and of course the other co-promoter Kenny Schrader.

After a two-hour autograph session by all the NASCAR drivers, they got to do what they love to do the most, drive racecars. All but Johnny Benson, who is still recovering from broken ribs a few weeks earlier, got behind the wheel of six IMCA DirtWorks Modifieds for a ten lap race. Bill Elliott stormed out to the lead from his front row starting spot with Steve Park closely behind. Ken Schrader and Mike Wallace, who both have ran many laps around I-55 Raceway in the past, elected to start in the back. As the two began to work their way toward the front, Mike Wallace found the wall in turn one and the car climbed the wall and did a slow rollover. The car came to rest on it's wheels and Mike Wallace refired the car and drove it away. After making a stop to look over the damage, he decided to continue, although he had a broken shock on the left rear of the car. On the restart, it was Bill Elliott once again pulling out to a nice lead. However, Ken Schrader moved into second and began to run down Bill Elliott. On the final two laps, Ken Schrader was able to use the high side to move ahead of Bill Elliott down the back. But Bill Elliott had the faster line in the middle of the track through turn three and four and would pull ahead on the front straight away. On the final lap, Bill Elliott crossed the line just ahead of Ken Schrader to pick up the win. Steve Park brought his car home third, Kyle Petty fourth, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fifth and Mike Wallace brought his damaged car home sixth.

Meanwhile, there were two other classes of cars on hand to provide some exciting racing action for the fans. Thirty-eight UMP Late Models filled the pit area. In the first qualifying heat, Ken Schrader drove his Federated Auto Parts, Petroff Towing, C.J. Rayburn Late Model to victory. Dave Jumper was second, the defending UMP Late Model National Champion Rodney Melvin was third and the current UMP Late Model National Point Leader Terry English was fourth.

In the second qualifying heat, sixteen year old Justin Allgaier moved past Danny Maguire two laps before the checkered to take the win. Maguire was second, Jimmy Burwell third and John Bohn fourth.

The third qualifying heat saw a great three-way battle for the lead. Chuck Baird led the early laps with Billy Faust and Clay Baumann battling hard to get the lead from Baird. As the three came into lapped traffic, the lapped car of Ron McQuerry spun directly in front of the leaders. The top three cars were collected in the accident. Baird and Faust suffered significant damage that ended their night. Baumann was able to restart the race and went on to pick up the win. Eddie Pace, Mike Abney and Mike Hammerle rounded out the top four.

In the fourth qualifying heat, defending track champion Ed Dixon powered his way to victory. Mark Oller was second, Tommy Worley third and Brian Wolfmeier fourth.

Ken Schrader showed his muscle again in the dash, as he led all eight laps enroute to the win. Ed Dixon worked his way up to finish second, Clay Baumann was third and Dave Jumper fourth.

Jim Durbin and Kyle Steffens claimed victories in the two semi-features.

As the feature event took the green flag, Ken Schrader powered his way into the lead, moving up to the high side of the track in front of Ed Dixon. As those two battled around the top, Clay Baumann used the bottom of the track to drive past both and into the lead. As Baumann began to open the lead a little, Schrader moved to the bottom behind Baumann. That allowed Ed Dixon a clear view around the top and it only took two laps for him to assume the lead. Schrader soon moved back to the top and moved past Baumann as well. Mark Oller soon moved into the picture, as he got underneath Baumann and took third. Oller moved up to challenge Schrader for second and the two battled for the position lap after lap. The race went green until a late caution on lap nineteen. But even after the restart, Oller, Schrader and Baumann were no match for Dixon, as Dixon roared away to claim the win. Schrader edged out Oller for second, Baumann took fourth and Jimmy Burwell moved up from his tenth starting spot to take fifth.

There were twenty-five winged sprint cars on hand. In the first qualifying heat, Danny Smith checked out on the rest of field and picked up the win over Jerrod Hull and Jim Moughan. The second qualifying heat went to Tommy Worley over Rod Crabdree and Jason Keith. The third qualifier saw Joey Montgomery get the best of Tim Montgomery and Steve Short.

All twenty-five cars took the green in the feature event. Danny Smith opened up a sizeable lead early on in the event. Smith started dicing through lapped traffic on lap six, allowing Joey Montgomery to start moving in on him. About half way through the event, Joey Montgomery powered past Smith going into turn three. Joey Montgomery appeared to have things well in hand, as he drove off to a nice lead. Then he caught lapped traffic, allowing Smith and a hard charging Tommy Worley to move back in and battle for the lead. With four laps remaining, Smith moved past Joey Montgomery to take the lead. One lap later, Joey Montgomery jumped the cushion in turn two and hit the wall and then flipping. Joey Montgomery was uninjured. On the restart, Smith held off Worley to pick up the win. Tim Montgomery recovered from an early spin, in which he did a complete 360 and never stopped and only lost four positions, to finish third. Jim Moughan was fourth and Rod Crabdree rounded out the top five.

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About this article
Series Charity , Sprint , Stock car
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bill Elliott , Steve Park , Kyle Petty , Ken Schrader , Mike Wallace , Johnny Benson , Justin Allgaier , Kyle Steffens