UMP Modified Feature To Kramer Over Florida Tour Points Leader BARBERVILLE, FL -- The 34th addition of Volusia Speedway Park's Winter Nationals for United Midwestern Promoters Open Wheel Modified teams reached its halfway point on Thursday...
UMP Modified Feature To Kramer Over Florida Tour Points Leader
BARBERVILLE, FL -- The 34th addition of Volusia Speedway Park's Winter Nationals for United Midwestern Promoters Open Wheel Modified teams reached its halfway point on Thursday night and it was Illinois invader Joey Kramer ducking under current points leader Craig Thatcher with less than three laps left to earn the thrilling victory.
The third top-two finish in as many events for defending Florida Winter Nationals champion Thatcher afforded him a commanding 80-point lead with three U.M.P. Modified features remaining on the 2005 schedule.
"We've been fast since opening night but it's the mechanical problems that have put us behind," said Kramer, after vaulting into third-place on the points chart despite some midweek setbacks. "We were qualified for the first show until engine trouble dropped us out of the heat and (Wednesday) got up to fifth in the feature when the rear-end gears broke. Tonight everything stayed together and we finally showed what the car can do."
With 65 entries contesting for 24 starting positions, Kramer won the fifth of five qualifying heats to begin the 25-lap feature inside row three. Before the opening lap could even be scored a four-car tangle involving Joey Jensen, Jesse Snyder, Mark Trautner and Blake Jegtvig forced out the first of just two yellow flags.
Johnny DeYoung bolted from third to first on the restart yet could only hold back the high-flying Thatcher for three circuits. While Kramer remained a frontrunner early on, charges through the pack by 15th-place starter Brian Shaw and third consolation race winner Brad Waits (21st) drew the most attention from the capacity crowd.
The slowing car of Snyder resulted in the final caution period on lap 10 and enabled Thatcher's lead attackers to quickly close the gap. With Kramer staking his claim on the top prize, Shaw took over third on lap 12 while Waits maneuvered into fourth on lap 14. With 10 laps to go Kramer slid sideways in turn four to lose ground and afford Thatcher his biggest advantage of the night.
But after five more laps clicked off on the scoreboard it was Kramer once again shadowing the 2004 WISSOTA national champion. It took the former U.M.P. Late Model pilot just one more mile to pull alongside before completing the rally with a turn two pass under Thatcher on the 23rd circuit.
"I was losing a lot of time in turn one and made a brake adjustment with about five to go and that was the difference," added Kramer, who outdistanced Thatcher by five car-lengths under the checkered flag. "We've had a tough week so far but I know a good car can always make up for a bad draw. After the brake change the car ran better all the way around and I was confident I could give (Thatcher) a run."
Wednesday winner Thatcher repeated his opening night second-place finish followed by hard chargers Shaw and Waits with early leader DeYoung crossing the line fifth.
Through the initial three races, Thatcher (177) sits atop the Florida Tour standings followed by Shaw (97), Kramer (95), opening night winner Steve Arpin (94) and Waits (94). Of the 78 drivers earning points to date, only Thatcher, Gary Clark, DeYoung, Chad Ohnstad and Joey Jensen have qualified for every show.
U.M.P. Modified teams continue their weekday campaign at Volusia with Friday's event standing as round number four in the six-race Florida Winter Nationals. The 2005 series points champion will collect $1,000 following the 30-lap finale slated for Sunday, Feb. 13.
SUMMARY EVENT NO. 3
FEATURE (25 LAPS): 77k-JOEY KRAMER, 91-Craig Thatcher, 1s-Brian Shaw, 24-Brad Waits, 7j-Johnny DeYoung, 7d-Myron DeYoung, 85d-Mark Dotson, 20-Mike Wilson, 1m-Julie McDermid, 2j-Blake Jegtvig, 01k-Don Kiger, z28-Mark Trautner, 33-Steve Wetter, 65-Todd Sherman, 17je-J.E. Stadler, 34-Ben Stephens, 21-David Ostrander, 39-Dave Groves, 12s-Jesse Snyder, 18m-David McWilliams, 1a-Chad Ohnstad, 4g-Gary Clark, Q-Joey Jensen, 64-Dan Leatherman.
HEAT 1: Groves, Stephens, Snyder, George Catazano.
HEAT 2: Wetter, Dotson, M.DeYoung, Sherman.
HEAT 3: J.DeYoung, Jensen, Shaw, Eric Scribner.
HEAT 4: Stadler, McWilliams, Leatherman, Kevin Davis.
HEAT 5: Kramer, Wilson, Trautner, McDermid.
HEAT 6: Thatcher, Ohnstad, Clark, Greg Baumberger.
CONSI 1: Jegtvig, Ostrander, Ed Carley, Adam Gootee.
CONSI 2: McDermitt, Sherman, Mike Long, Zack Vanderbeer.
CONSI 3: Waits, Kiger, Scribner, Baumberger.
WINTER NATIONALS U.M.P. MODIFIED POINT STANDINGS (Top-10): 177-Craig Thatcher, 97-Brian Shaw, 95-Joey Kramer, 94-Steve Arpin and Brad Waits, 92-Myron DeYoung, 88-Gary Clark, 84-Steve Wetter, 83-Johnny DeYoung, 81-Julie McDermid.