U.M.A.R.A. Sportsman Midgets June 17,2000 By Kathryn Clark The U.M.A.R.A. Midgets where giving it their all at Grundy County Speedway in Morris IL., in what turned out to be a rather long but exciting night of racing. A strong field of 26 ...
U.M.A.R.A. Sportsman Midgets June 17,2000
By Kathryn Clark
The U.M.A.R.A. Midgets where giving it their all at Grundy County Speedway in Morris IL., in what turned out to be a rather long but exciting night of racing. A strong field of 26 Sportsman Midgets made the call for the June 17th show. Loran Critchett Jr. would set fast time on this night with a blazing 16.217 qualifying lap. This would be Loran's second trip into the fast qualifier slot. Other drivers to move into the lower 16-second bracket, included Tom Shilkuski (16.356), Rich Peceniak (16.471), and Frank Reiss (16.476). Rounding out our top 6 qualifiers were Joe Knipple (16.406) and Doug Orseske (16.176). After a brief rain delay, the U.M.A.R.A. Sportsman Midgets took to the pavement for their first heat. Doug Orseske and Rich Peceniak were in the front row, leading the field around for the green flag. Joe Knipple would shoot like a cannonball from his fourth starting spot into second by the second lap of the race. In the sixth lap, Loran Critchett Jr. and Tom Shilkuski would make it around Frank Reiss - moving them into the fourth and fifth positions. The ten laps went by quickly and Doug Orseske held on to the lead with Joe Knipple nipping at his tail.
<pre> #0 Doug Orseske #33 Joe Knipple #99 Rich Peceniak #17 Loran Critchett Jr. #23 Tom Shilkuski #11 Frank Reiss #10 Mic Bilhorn #31 Matt Daily
</pre> The second heat would be a battle of Volkswagens. Who would emerge victorious? Would it be pole-sitter Mike Bettenhausen, or Mike Ohlendorf? Ohlendorf's only obstacle was Jim Helland's Ford powered 23x, which he quickly handled in the first lap. With the head of steam that Mr. Ohlendorf had already built up, he pushed right by Bettenhausen, who would try and regain the lead at each corner. As hard as Bettenhausen tried however, it would be the hard charging, Mike Ohlendorf, who would take the checkered flag.
<pre> #2 Mike Ohlendorf #8 Mike Bettenhausen #23x Jim Helland #7 Terry Guimond #91 Aaron C. Willis #1 Dave Ohlendorf #22 Basil Hicks #88 Mike Smith #21 Bob Shreffler
</pre> In the final heat U.M.A.R.A. National pilot David Thompson would come out and try to work his way up from the back of the pack. He would successfully maneuver his way past four of the six rookies between him and the win. Jim Ziarkowski would hold him back until the third lap when David worked his way around. Than he was up against Jack Knox, a US Army Major who was now fighting a more peaceful war, and is not used to giving up without a fight. Jack held steady to line but David's higher level of experience would help him maneuver around Jack into third place. Sean Murphy now stood between David and a win from the back of the pack, but first he would have to catch him. In the 6th lap Lyle Riggins would succumb to engine failure leaving oil on the track and bringing out the yellow flag. The restart would tell the tale and when the green flag flew, David made quick work of passing Sean and taking the checkered flag.
<pre> #56 David Thompson #5 Sean Murphy #57 Jack Knox #69 Jim Ziarkowski #28k Kevin Langston #9 Rich Sponholtz #7x Jim Clark #1n Lyle Riggins
</pre> With only a few minutes to prepare, the stage was set for the semi-feature. The top eight drivers would move to the feature, the pressure was on. Mike Smith, after completing just one lap, would spin and be restarted in the back of the pack. David Thompson would find himself in need of a few good passes. He would respond in true professional fashion, passing several cars and locking horns with Aaron C. Willis. Aaron was having engine trouble earlier in the night and David was pushing it to the max. The two pilots closed in upon lapped traffic on the 8th circuit. Aaron was determined to finish with the win however, and that was exactly what he did holding David off like an old pro.
<pre> #91 Aaron C. Willis #56 David Thompson #22 Basil Hicks #38 Bob Guess #69 Jim Ziarkowski #57 Jack Knox #88 Mike Smith #7x Jim Clark #52 Jim Opatic #1 Dave Ohlendorf #9 Sean Murphy
</pre> They say that the third time is the charm, and tonight it would take three restarts to get the feature underway. In the first attempt, Tom Shilkuski spun collecting Aaron C. Willis & ending the night for both drivers. The second attempt would have Mike Ohlendorf and Terry Guimond coming together in a tangle that almost required a surgeon to sort out. The third attempt was definitely the charm, as the green flag flew until lap14. During that time, Mic Bilhorn, who had the lead, was being chased mercilessly by Rich Peceniak, the 1992 rookie of the year, and the 1993 U.M.A.R.A Sportsman champion. Mic, who appeared to suffer some loss of power, starting falling back in the field and Rich took over the lead. This was the first time that Rich has led a feature in the last three years. On the 14th lap, the yellow flag would be brought out when the now slightly underpowered Bilhorn was sent for a spin, taking him out of the race. While under yellow, Rich realized that was in trouble also, and he got to the fire truck just as the rear end of his car was engulfed in flames up to the top of the number 99 on his tail tank. Rich was unhurt, due in part to his quick thinking. This gave Frank Reiss the lead with Matt Daily and Joe Knipple staying close behind. Joe Knipple started his charge and in lap 16 was around Matt Daily. Then, just one lap later, Joe made an amazing pass on the outside in turns one and two, taking the lead. The INR Beatty Lumber Co. car #33 piloted by Joe Knipple simply checked out, and wasn't going to be touched by anyone from there on! Joe Knipple becomes the first two-time Feature Winner of the U.M.A.R.A. Sportsman 2000 season. Good show Joe!!!!!!!
<pre> #33 Joe Knipple #11 Frank Reiss #31 Matt Daily #17 Loran Critchett Jr. #56 David Thompson #0 Doug Orseske #22 Basil Hicks #38 Bob Guess #8 Mike Bettenhausen #69 Jim Ziarkowski #57 Jack Knox #99 Rich Peceniak #10 Mic Bilhorn #7x Sean Murphy #2 Mike Ohlendorf #7 Terry Guimond #91 Aaron C. Willis #23 Tom Shilkuski
</pre> You will want to mark your calendar for U.M.A.R.A'S next two shows at Grundy County Speedway in Morris IL. On June 24th there are over 100 racecars expected, as they will be sharing the track with a winged sprint car division. On July 2, the Grundy County Fair will be going on right outside the track for an entire day of family fun. For our fans out in Iowa, don't miss it when the U.M.A.R.A. Sportsman division comes to Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids on Friday, June 30th. Once again we tip our hats to Joe Knipple and we'll see you all at the races.