BESECKER WINNER IN BIZARRE "THUNDER IN THE DOME" FINISH Kevin Besecker of Greenville, Ohio emerged the unlikely winner of Saturday night's "Thunder in the Dome XV" invitational USAC Midget race at the RCA Dome in downtown Indianapolis, Ind. He...
BESECKER WINNER IN BIZARRE "THUNDER IN THE DOME" FINISH
Kevin Besecker of Greenville, Ohio emerged the unlikely winner of Saturday night's "Thunder in the Dome XV" invitational USAC Midget race at the RCA Dome in downtown Indianapolis, Ind. He led only the last four laps of the 100-lap finale after three previous leaders encountered problems which robbed each of a certain victory.
Besecker's initial USAC feature triumph, worth $5,250, came in Mack McClellan's Sleep Tite Mattress Factory/Miller Brothers Excavating/Steve Marker Trucking VW and led Team USA to its third consecutive "Dome" win over "Team Indiana" by a 157-143 margin. Defending USAC National Midget Champion Jason Leffler gave Team USA a second-place finish in his first "Dome" start and earned the race's Gene Hartley "Rookie of the Race" Award. Team Indiana's Ted Hines and Dave Darland were third and fourth and Team USA's Matt Westfall rounded out the top five at the checkered flag.
John Heydenreich of Bloomsburg, Pa. was the first leader to retire from competition. After winning the Team USA 40-lap feature, he led the first 53 laps of the 100-lapper before clipping a marker tire in turn one, damaging his front end. Defending race winner Jim Hettinger then led the next 27 laps before something just broke, sending him to the sidelines. Former race winner Michael Lang then appeared in command, holding nearly a full lap lead when a multi-car tangle on the front stretch on lap 97 caught him and when he slid to a stop against Brian Gerster's stalled car Besecker inherited the lead!
Robbie Rice of Brownsburg, Ind. led all 40 laps to win the Team Indiana feature but also failed to finish the 100-lapper. He earned the Turbines, Ind. Team Indiana "Rookie of the Race" Award and Heydenreich claimed the B & W Plumbing Team USA "Rookie of the Race" Award.
Team Indiana heat victories went to Mel Kenyon, Lang and Rice, while Heydenreich, Stevie Reeves and Ryan Newman won the Team USA heats.
Pre-race favorites Kenny Irwin, Jr., Reeves, Brian Tyler and Tony Elliott all failed to finish their team features, therefore missing the 100-lap finale.
Two drivers, Jon Herb and John Sluss, escaped injury in separate flips during the Team Indiana feature.
The USAC MCI WorldCom National and "Western States" Midget Series open next weekend as part of the 22nd U.S. Tobacco Company "Copper World Classic" at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway.