UMARA: Joe Knipple answers the call at Rockford

</pre> September 30,2000 U.M.A.R.A. Sportsman Midgets With what turned out to be a close battle for the 2000 Championship, Joe, in the INR Beatty Lumber Company Midget did not come to Rockford Motor Speedway to Play. Joe's first...

</pre> September 30,2000 U.M.A.R.A. Sportsman Midgets

With what turned out to be a close battle for the 2000 Championship, Joe, in the INR Beatty Lumber Company Midget did not come to Rockford Motor Speedway to Play. Joe's first challenge came in qualifying. He answered the call with the second fastest time of the night at 14.504. Loran Critchett Jr. would beat him with a speedy 14.469. Other fast times were posted by Frank Reese 14.546, Rich Peceniak 14.781, and Bob Guess 14.949. Sean Murphy started on the poll in the first heat, and he still had a chance to catch Joe and steal away the championship on this, the last night of racing in 2000. Joe would start this race from the inside of the third row. Sean struck the first blow, leading the first 4 laps. Joe blasted by Rich Peceniak, en-route to the front of the pack! With there only being a marginal number of points separating Joe and Sean for the championship, every position could make or break either driver! Bob Guess would pass Sean for the lead on the fifth lap. Sean tried to work his way back around Bob, but to no avail. Bob Guess held on and won the first heat in Rockford. With Joe finishing three positions behind Sean, this was truly becoming a situation that would provide a great final feature race shoot out! #38 Bob Guess #5 Sean Murphy #11 Frank Reese #17 Loran Crichett Jr. #33 Joe Knipple #8 Rich Peceniak #22 Basil Hicks #0 Doug Orseske #28 Klaus Weaver

The second heat would be the final hurrah for a majority of our 2000 Rookies in their last rookie race. The two veterans in the field would have their hands full as the rookies have learned their way around a track over the course of the year. The rookie to watch was the 2000 rookie of the year Jim Ziarkowski. Jim in a brilliantly executed start, moved from fifth to second. Bob Shreffler was unwilling to relinquish his lead however. Lap after lap Jim would fight to get closer to Bob, however, Mr. Shreffler, in a fine display of driving, motored away from Mr. Ziarkowski on his way to a heat race win.

#21     Bob Shreffler
#69     Jim Ziarkowski
#9      Rich Sponholtz
#88     Mike Smith
#34     Cade Southall
#94     Jolene Deheve-Slomka
#00     Mike Heiss
#59     George Clark

Cade Southall would bring out the first yellow of the Feature race by hitting the wall in turn four on the very first lap. The re-start would see Basil Hicks leading his first feature race. Bob Guess went from 8th to 3rd place in the first lap, and in the 5th lap he made a pass in turns 3 & 4, right into the lead. Bob held this position for 23 laps. Behind him Sean Murphy was making a steady path to front and in found himself leading in the 29th lap. Bob tried to get back around Sean but made contact with the wall instead. Bob walked away, but what a terrible way to end a season. Joe Knipple, who was hovering around the top four spots, managed to barely miss Bob, and would find himself in second right behind Sean. Joe kept on Sean's tail, and the two battled it out around every turn. On the 42nd lap disaster would strike the Murphy camp. An oil line on the finely tuned #5 Midget would rupture and begin to dump oil onto the racing surface. Joe Knipple, who was following the event noticed the oiling problem and quickly avoided the incident. Rich Peceniak however was not close enough to see the spill, and found himself sliding up the turn with Doug Orseske, who also hit the oil and spun. The two cars came to rest up on the high banks of Rockford Speedway, and the final yellow of the night took to the air. Suddenly it was a new race! Joe Knipple, realizing at this point that it was over, casually piloted the #33 Midget racecar into Sportsman History, seizing that championship that he has been working towards for such a long time. After a quick visual inspection of the #8 car of Peceniak, and the Flying 0 car of Orseske, the field was assembled for a nine-lap shoot out. Doug Orseske was sent to the pits at this point due to an oil leak at the back of the car. Looking like he had been shot from a canon, Rich Peceniak, obviously motivated by the frustration of his earlier spin, launch an assault on the speedway that was perhaps one of the more impressive charges of the night. In 9 laps Mr. Peceniak had moved himself around four cars and back into a top five finishing position!

Congratulations to Joe Knipple on his Sportsman Title! Congratulations to Jim Ziarkowski on his Rookie of the Year status!

Sportsman Feature Race Results: 1. Joe Knipple 2. Frank Reese 3. Basil Hicks 4. Loran Critchett Jr. 5. Rich Peceniak 6. Jim Ziarkowski 7. Mike Smith 8. Rich Sponholtz 9. Mike Heiss 10. Doug Orseske 11. Sean Murphy 12. Klaus Weaver 13. Bob Guess 14. Bob Shreffler 15. Jolene Deheve-Slomka 16. Cade Southall

Thanks to all the U.M.A.R.A Sportsman teams for a great season! A very special thanks to all our fans!

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About this article
Series Midget
Drivers Mike Heiss , Sean Murphy , Mike Smit