Midvale USPRO race report

The USPRO Racing Series' second race was held at Midvale Speedway in Ohio Saturday night. Mark Kortz won the U.S. Navy 50 despite missing most of the left side sheet metal on his ...

The USPRO Racing Series' second race was held at Midvale Speedway in Ohio Saturday night. Mark Kortz won the U.S. Navy 50 despite missing most of the left side sheet metal on his #113.

Brent Hook and Mike Carter made up the front row with Hook getting the jump on the start. The field didn't complete a lap when first and second fast qualifiers, Mark Kortz and Steve Shlater Jr tangled in turn one. Both cars went for the same spot with Shlater Jr's car climbing up and over Kortz's car. Kortz's car was able to continue after stopping by series officials to have his car checked out, despite not having a driver's side door anymore. Shlater Jr's car was able to drive back to the pit area, but was through for the night with a broken panard bar. The field lined up to try again, with better success. Hook again jumped into the lead followed closely by Robbie Johnson, who was in his first USPRO race. For seven laps R. Johnson pressured Hook before he dipped low to take the lead. R. Johnson built his lead to a half straightaway before he caught the end of the field and began lapping the field on lap 17. With R. Johnson out in front running by himself, focus was on the battle for second between the cars of Hook, Bob Varney, Shaun Whitney, Mike Carter and Kortz. As the group jostled for position with several cars coming together, with Whitney losing his left front fender. The caution was thrown to remove the fender from the frontstretch and all cars continued.

On the restart, Dave Peffer's car came off of turn four too high and he hit the frontstretch wall. A shower of sparks followed his car as he came to a stop in turn one with suspension damage. During the caution, Hook's tire went down and he had to give up his second place position to go to the pits and change it.

When the race resumed Varney dogged R. Johnson as the pair raced hard for the top position. On lap 23, the duo tangled in turn four with Varney's car climbing over R. Johnson's car, nearly tipping on it's side. R. Johnson continued with severe damage to the rear of the car after checking in with the officials.

USPRO does have the spinner/spinee rule, but if one of the competitors involved admits they were the cause of the caution they go to the rear with the other drivers get their original spots back. R. Johnson told officials he was in the wrong and Varney was placed into the lead, with R. Johnson going to the rear.

Despite an ill handling car, Varney held off repeated challenges from Kortz over the next 14 laps. Kortz tried to pass Varney high on the tight 3/10 mile track and when that didn't work, moved low. He finally completed the pass on lap 38 and stretched his lead.

Varney fought back the challenges of Whitney and Carter for the second position. The trio raced nose to tail over the final 12 laps, with the Varney retaining second place, followed by Whitney and Carter. Kortz aboard his U.S. Air Force, Phelps Towing, Speedway Motors Taurus, finished nearly 2/3 of a straightaway ahead of the group at the checkers.

NOTES:

For the second race of the fledgeling series, there were four lead changes among four different drivers.

Mark Kortz finished second to Bob Varney in the first race and this race the positions were reversed. Kortz swept the night, taking the Amsoil Fast Qualifier award (14.76 sec. lap) and the race win, earning the maximum amount of points, 125. Not only that but he was the Performance Friction Hard Charger, moving up six position. The win moved him to a three point lead over Varney, 244 to 241. "We had a good car even though it was missing the right side sheet metal. Steve (Shlater Jr) and I were just going for the same spot, and we both didn't fit ... just hard racing. The car just has cosmetic damage and didn't hurt the it's performance and handling. It was a hard race with a lot of bumping and grinding. Bob (Varney) had some issues with his car and I tried high and then when he moved up to protect his line I was able to dive and take the lead and the win," said the driver from Brooklyn, Mich.

The fledgling series continues to grow with rookie Robbie Johnson running his first USPRO race tonight. Johnson will share driving duties with Freddie Campbell and Freddie's son Brian in the yellow #14. Robbie is the son of late model standout Ted Johnson, just finished the car Friday night and ran well, leading a race high 16 laps. When Johnson and Bob Varney tangled while racing for the lead. Johnson told officials, he was the one that was in the wrong and he was sent to the rear. Johnson's car suffered substantial rear end damage but was able to continue. He finished seventh in his Birch Machinery, Sign Depot, Bus Stop Inn #14. Bob Varney was going for the lead as noted before he and Johnson tangled. After the accident he was given his spot back (which after Johnson was sent to rear, was leading the race) after the officials questioned Johnson on his part in the accident. His car had no visible damage except for some sheet metal damage, but suffered major suspension damage on both front corners of his car. Despite having his hands full he was able to wrestle the car to a second place finish. "We had a good car, and a very good chance at winning my second feature. I'm very frustrated over the driving tonight but we'll come back and get them at Spartan in a few weeks." said the driver of the Ford Performance Racing Parts/Roush Racing, Main Beverage/Budweiser Taurus.

Rookie of the race went to Shaun Whitney, who finished third. "We lost the fender but it didn't hurt the car. I'm very happy to finish third. We practiced here on Friday and it helped me get my car set up for tonight. We had a little trouble in qualifying, spinning a sliding into the wall. It didn't hurt the car, just scratched the paint up a little," said the driver of the Drettman Ranch, RaceFab/Defender Racing Bodies.

It was one of those days for rookie Bill Tomlinson. On the way to the track they hit a deer on the back roads by his home. Their tow vehicle received a little damage but the car was fine. He was never able to get a handle on the car and was the slowest qualifier. "It was one of those days, so I'm happy it's done with. I lost my brakes on lap four and I held on as long as I could. I finally called it a night on lap 31. All I know is Spartan has to go better." said the Schoolcraft, Mich. driver. His luck might have changed after the race, the family's van was parked in the pits and was nearly hit by another competitor backing out his trailer. He stopped and the van was moved before it could be damaged.

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