UMARA: Sportsman season opener

Saturday May 27, 2000 U.M.A.R.A Sportsman Midgets Division By Kathryn Clark After the long winter break, it was nice to be back at our home track in Morris IL. With the threat of rain hanging over our heads, there was sense of urgency...

Saturday May 27, 2000 U.M.A.R.A Sportsman Midgets Division By Kathryn Clark

After the long winter break, it was nice to be back at our home track in Morris IL. With the threat of rain hanging over our heads, there was sense of urgency surrounding our first event. Thirty-three U.M.A.R.A. Sportsman Midget Racing Teams made it out for the first event. Grundy County Speedway sprang to life at 5PM with the unmistakable roar of Midget Race Cars, each preparing for the evening show. With all of the team members understanding the need to keep the event moving, the practice, and qualifying sessions went without a hitch. To the surprise of many, several new names made an impression on the speedway, and served notice that they intend to stand out in 2000. Matt Daily blasted into the record books on this night by shattering the previous track record. Last year Matt was plagued with engine problems. The hard work and the many hours of labor in the winter months definitely paid off for the Daily crew. Not only did Matt's 16.09-second lap give him fast time for the Sportsmans class, but it was also a new Grundy County Fast Time for the U.M.A.R.A. Sportsman division. When asked how it felt, Matt replied, "It did not feel like I was going that fast. In fact the car seemed a little squirrelly, if you ask me!" Other top five qualifiers were Sean Murphy, Joe Knipple, Roger Bettenhausen, and Loran Crittchett Jr. Just as the Sportsman lined up for their heat the rain began to fall sending everyone running back to their pit stalls for cover. Fortunately it was only a short delay and the U.M.A.R.A. push trucks had the track ready to go.

The first heat was full of some of our past champions. The pace was set by Matt Daily, who managed to put a fresh spring into everyone's step, making this night one to root for the underdog. After taking last season off, Rich Peceniak was back with a new car dressed with the familiar #99. Rich started on the poll and made up his mind that nobody was going to get around him in this heat. Loran Critchett Jr., and Joe Knipple came from third and fourth starting positions and began to worry Rich's rear bumper, but Rich stood his ground and took the checkered flag. <pre> #99 Rich Peceniak #17c Loran Critchett Jr. #33 Joe Knipple #5 Sean Murphy #58 Roger Bettenhausen #31 Matt Daily #0 Doug Orseske #8 Mike Bettenhausen #20 Dave Smreker #11 Frank Reiss </pre> The second heat was full of breath taking passes that kept fans on their feet. If you so much as blinked, you missed a change in position somewhere in the field. Dave Ohlendorf lit the track on fire, moving from the sixth starting position right up to battle for the checkered flag. Alas it was not meant to be as Terry Guimond crossed for the win. <pre> #7 Terry Guimond #1 Dave Ohlendorf #91 Aaron Willis #28s Rick Shoemaker #38 Bob Guess #23x Jim Hellane #88 Mike Smith #21 Bob Shreffler #56 Dave </pre> In the third heat seven of the nine pilots were rookies. For the two veteran pilots the goal was to stay out front. For Tom Shilkuski this was an easy task as he ran away from the rest of the field. For Bill Hoffmeyer, it was another story as the rookie's all wanted their first taste of victory, but first they had pass a veteran driver. Bill held them off for the first nine laps. Adam Phillips However, wanted this pass more than the others, and his efforts landed him in the wall just short of turn three. Adam was fine but his night was over. In the last lap Bill experienced engine troubles and in turn 2, two of the rookies made it around him. Bill was able to fix his problem and return for the semi-feature. #23 Tom Shilkuski #57 Jack Knox #25p Dave Polson #3 Bill Hoffmeyer #69 Jim Ziarkowski #28k Kevin Langston #9s Rich Sponholtz #99p Adam Phillips The U.M.A.R.A. Sportsman division has grown since its humble beginnings. With the current possibility of 38 Midgets at any event some of drivers will have to get used to running another event, a semi-feature. For the teams it means a little more work on any given night, and for the fans it means one more chance for hair-raising action. Of the twelve cars that started the semi-feature 8 were rookies and only the top five would transfer to the feature. The U.M.A.R.A. Sportsman rules always start rookies in the back, so if they wanted to transfer into the feature race, their work would be cut out for them. For some, this would not be to difficult. Early on, veteran Tom Schilkuski took the lead with Jim Hellane, who is a quick study, following him right up to the front. Jim Ziarkowski started making his way up from the eighth position. Once he past Jack Knox for sixth, it was straight to the top five for Mr. Ziarkowski, with Jack Knox taking the opportunity to move up as well. Mike Smith would be the only obstacle for the two hard charging drivers, and only Jim Ziarkowski would be able to claim Mike's position at the end of this event, making his move into third on the final lap and leaving his tail, Jack Knoxs in fifth place. To Jacks delight however, his effort was good enough to move him into the final transfer spot. <pre> #23 Tom Shilkuski #23r Jim Hellane #69 Jim Ziarkowski #88 Mike Smith #57 Jack Knox #9s Rich Sponholtz #28n Kirk Jobe # 25p Dave Polson #52 Jim Opatic #21 Bob Schreffler #3 Bill Hoffmeyer #28k Kevin Langston </pre> With thunderstorms heading for the track, the officials wasted no time in getting the feature event under way. After only one completed lap the track went yellow with a spin in turn 3. Both Rodger Bettenhausen and Sean Murphy felt that they should have had the fifth spot, and when the call came down, the spot, belonged to Roger. Sean did not give the spot up willingly, but he did heed the call and take the sixth position. He would not be there for long however, and after the drop of the green flag, he bolted into fifth. The second yellow came out 6 laps later when Mike Bettenhausen spun just short of turn 3. Now young Sean was in fourth position, but that was not where he wanted to finish in this event. Joe Knipple held him back for a lap, but Sean worked his way around and suddenly there were only two midgets between the red #5 machine of Sean Murphy, and the first feature win of 2000. Matt Daily, our fast qualifier, and Doug Orseske were his only obstacles. Matt kept Sean at bay for another lap as the clouds above became even darker. Sean passed Matt on the 13th lap, and few raindrops began to fall. As Doug came off of the forth corner, the word came down. "Fly the white flag now and go checkered quickly, we are about to get soaked!" Sean originally had one lap to make a move, but due a spin as the heavens opened up onto the racing surface, the track went yellow and the race was over. Doug Orseske had enough of a lead to be our first feature winner of the 2000 racing season.

Congratulations Doug Orseske!!!! <pre> #0 Doug Orseske #5 Sean Murphy #31 Matt Daily #33 Joe Knipple #58 Roger Bettenhausen #17c Loran Critchett Jr. #99 Rich Peceniak #7 Terry Guimond #23x Jim Hellane #91 Aaron Willis #20 David Smreker #1 Dave Ohlendorf #8 Mike Bettenhausen #38 Bob Guess #69 Jim Ziarkowski #57 Jack Knox #28s Rick Shoemaker #11 Frank Reiss </pre> U.M.A.R.A. thanks the fans who traversed the stormy weather to be with them Saturday Night and invites all of you out to Grundy County Speedway, in Morris IL on Saturday June 3, where the U.M.A.R.A. Sportsman division will be visited by the Legend Cars. Once again congratulations to Matt Daily for breaking the Sportsman qualifying record, and to Doug Orseske for bringing home the first feature win of the new season.

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Series Midget
Drivers Sean Murphy , Mike Smit