Last night proved once and for all that race car drivers will race just as hard wheter they get paid or not. The USPRO Racing Series put on a special benefit race Sunday night at Spartan Speedway for series' former vice president/race ...
Last night proved once and for all that race car drivers will race just as hard wheter they get paid or not.
The USPRO Racing Series put on a special benefit race Sunday night at Spartan Speedway for series' former vice president/race director Chris Throgmartin. The USPRO Throgmartin 50 was a non-points race with proceeds going into a the Stock Car Racers Foundation which will help cover Chris' bone marrow medical treatment program and also for future drivers who need assistance. All drivers and series officials donated their earnings for the race into this fund.
Rookie Mike Carter won his second career USPRO race, receiving a tall trophy for his efforts. Local favorite, Rob Buckley, looked like he would win his first USPRO race, but slipped in turn four on lap 37, and went high, allowing Carter to get under him for the lead.
The race followed a little different procedure for the lineup than the usual drawing of position for by the top 10 qualifiers. Galen Beauch was the 10th fastest qualifier and drew the pole with ninth fastest qualifier Bill Tomlinson beside him. In tonight's race, three drivers who had previous won races this year, started behind the non-winners in the top 10.
Beauch jumped into the lead when the green flag flew, with the rest of the field racing in two by two formation following closely behind him. The cars raced in tight formation for 27 laps until a rash of yellow flags caused the field split up.
Rob Buckley, a regular at Spartan in the track's local late model division had dropped back to 10th but by lap 15 had moved up into third place. On lap 17 he took over the lead when he passed Beauch whose car had lost its handle. Beauch's car drifted quickly to the rear and on lap 20 he dropped out with suspension problems.
Buckley, Mike Carter, Jason Felver and Mark Kortz battled for the top four positions, until lap 27 saw a spectacular accident between Kortz and Felver. As Kortz came out of turn four attempting to pass Felver to the inside, his car drove over Felver's rear wheel. Kortz's car flipped sideways as it drove over Felver's car, but came back down on its wheels. The pair both retired for the evening.
Buckley and Carter battled for the lead, nose to tail, for the next 21 laps while newcomer Jake Louden and Steve Shlater Jr raced for third.
On lap 37 Buckley got loose in turn three/four and went high. Carter dived under Buckley and took over the lead. Buckley tried to take the lead back and the pair bounced off each other, with Carter keeping the lead.
Mike Carter finished several car lengths ahead of Buckley at the checkered flag wtih Brent Hook, who had battled back from an early spin taking third. Rick Everidge and Shaun Whitney rounded out the top five.
Mike Carter won his second career USPRO race. Upon reaching victory lane he was alternately cheered and booed by the fans. Some of the fans took exception to how Carter took the lead from local favorite, Ron Buckley. Although the pair bumped, it was just hard racing and neither driver was upset with the racing. "The car was great, phenomenal. We took it home after Owosso and redid the front end. Just went back to the drawing board and it really helped. Our new spotter Terry Bogusz, did a terrific job on the radio tonight and I think he's a great addition to our team," said the driver of the Champion Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Carter currently is in second place in the championship chase, 14 points behind leader Mark Kortz. The Highland, Mich. resident also is the leader by 55 points in the Rookie of the Year battle over Shaun Whitney.
Rob Buckley was one of five drivers that had their best career USPRO finishes. His previous best was a third place finish at Auto City. The Mason, Mich. driver led a race high 21 laps aboard his Olde Tyme Deli Monte Carlo.
Brent Hook also had a career best finish, finishing third. The driver of the Tough Coat Monte Carlo is looking forward to the next race in two weeks at his home track, Kalamazoo Speedway. Brent is currently in third place in points.
Rick Everidge was unable to qualify for tonight's race when he broke a flywheel in the final practice session and the crew was unable to fix the car in time to qualify. He was the provisional starter in 16th position. In the first five laps he had moved up five positions and by half way was eighth. At the end of the 50 laps he was in fourth place, gaining 12 positions! Unfortunately because he was a non qualifier and the race was a non points event, no hard charger award was given. His fourth place finish ties his career best USPRO race (Angola).
Fifth place went to rookie Shaun Whitney. "The car felt better than me in the race. I don't have any vents in my helmet and I got a sick from the heat after the race. I went out for one hot lap session and never changed the car all night. We had a good set-up for the race, but not for qualifying," said the Saginaw, Mich. driver.
Sixth place went to Dave Peffers finished a career best sixth. "That should've been a fifth place finish tonight, but when Steve (Shlater Jr) and Jake (Louden) got together, it backed up me and Shaun (Whitney) and it knocked the rear end out of line a couple inches. It's really a shame too, because this car was handling very well. I have to thank James Johnson for his help tonight. His car wasn't back together from his Owosso accident and he helped me tonight," said Peffers.
Mike Simon heaved a huge sigh of relief after the race. After nothing but bad luck tonight, he finally finished a feature. "Before the race all I wanted to do was be racing at the checkered flag. It's been a rough season, I had a bad engine, that Chevrolet replaced for me for most of the season. We had a carburetor problem tonight and were down on power, but we finished! And of the two I've finished this is my career best," said the driver from Decatur, Ind.
John Musser also had a career best finish, eighth. The Rookie driver, who is in only his sixth career race of any kind turned in his first top 10 position, but had to do so without any power steering.
No Robbie Johnson wasn't fired, although he kiddingly did tell me he was. It was just Jason Felver's turn to drive the #14 car, his first race in the USPRO Series and also his first in a template late model. It's also the team the won the last Spartan race with Freddie Campbell behind the wheel. Felver, the son of veteran driver Tim Felver, was running third when he was forced to drop out of the event with damage sustained in an accident with Mark Kortz just after the midway point. Look for Robbie Johnson to be back behind the wheel of the #14 at Kalamazoo.
Jake Louden, like Felver, was in his first USPRO race and his first in a template Late Model. "That was fun. The brakes went after Steve Shlater Jr and I got together. I'm looking forward to the last couple races and next year," said Louden.
Also new to the series was Jim Woodin. Jim was in the car formerly driven by Jason Hollibaugh. "We swapped cars with Jason. He wanted to go outlaw late models and I had been planning on running all year in USPRO. We just hadn't had time to get the car finish while driving at Galesburg all year. Actually this works out fine. We picked the car up Tuesday, so haven't had much time with it yet. I was having a blast out there tonight, until the brakes went. I'll be back at Kalamazoo with better brakes," said Woodin. Next year his team should include three cars. One for himself, one for his son and another for a driver to named.
USPRO Racing Series
'Chris Throgmartin 50'
Mike Carter, Rob Buckley, Brent Hook, Rick Everidge, Shaun Whitney, Dave Peffers, Mike Simon, John Musser, Steve Shlater Jr, Jake Louden, Bill Tomlinson, Jason Felver, Mark Kortz, Galen Beauch, Jim Woodin, Bob Varney