13th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals - 1990

Instant Replay: 13th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals - 1990 By Paul Haase BELLEVILLE, Kan. (July 22, 2001) - Jeff Gordon of Pittsboro, Ind., had been doing quite well all year in the Rollie Helmling Pontiac but was looking forward to "the big...

Instant Replay: 13th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals - 1990
By Paul Haase

BELLEVILLE, Kan. (July 22, 2001) - Jeff Gordon of Pittsboro, Ind., had been doing quite well all year in the Rollie Helmling Pontiac but was looking forward to "the big one."

In an ESPN interview after the 1990 Belleville Midget Nationals, Gordon commented that "Everything (they) have done all year was geared for the Belleville Nationals."

Apparently they were using all the right "gears" because Gordon put on a clinic.

Passing every car except for 1988 champion Steve Knepper of Belleville, Ill., Gordon easily took home the title of 1990 Belleville Midget Nationals Champion.

The Championship race went 40 green flag laps after one restart when one of the crowd favorites, Randy Roberts of Broomfield, Colo., had to stay up high with a dead engine due to a hole in the radiator and had to get pushed to the pits.

The finals were an all-out clean race.

Thursday night just seemed like it wasn't a night for racing. With clouds bellowing off to the west and the pits full of cars, officials were trying to get the race underway quickly. But it turned out to be in vain as showers started to fall and the races had to be delayed some one-and-a-half hours.

In what fortunately turned out to look a lot worse than it turned out to be, an incident on Thursday night's main feature saw five cars getting tangled, with one leaving the track.

On the second lap, a pack of cars entered turn 1 and within a couple of seconds five cars were flipping and flying. Dan Boorse of Milwaukee, Wis., was the least fortunate of the five leaving the track in wild, violent flips. Boorse was taken to the hospital with a possible concussion and a hand injury. He was held overnight for observation.

The other drivers involved were Dean Erfurth of Madison, Wis., Billy Shuman of Mesa, Ariz., Steve Stasa of Redland, Calif., and Hans Lein of Edgerton, Wis. All of them stayed on the track and escaped injury, but were unable to continue.

In other incidents, Ken Hatra of Hastings, Neb., struck Marty Davis of Racine, Wis., during the Saturday "Dash for Cash" after Davis spun and Hatra was unable to avoid him. Hatra rolled a couple of times before leaving the track right at the second turn corner lights.

Also on Saturday during the fourth heat race, a race involving four cars was nip-and-tuck for several laps with positions changing constantly. Something had to give. Unfortunately for Denise Bennet of Phoenix, Ariz., something did give. Right in the middle of the back stretch Bennet tapped 1986 Nationals Champion Tommy White's (Bakersfield, Calif.) right rear wheel and flipped sideways. Bennet was not injured, but understandably upset.

Before Saturday was all finished, Kenny Merrill of Pueblo, Colo., also found his car in the flipped position in the same area during the semi-main. Merrill was also uninjured.

Four Records Set:

Four new Belleville High Banks records were set during the three-day event with Gordon claiming three of them. Gordon spun the long half-mile in 18.5 seconds for the one-lap record, eight laps took him only 2:30.87 and 25 laps were done in 8:00.34.

Erfurth claimed the 12-lap record with a time of 3:56.60 to add his name to the record book a second time (he also has the 15-lap record).

Thursday Night Prelim:

Heat winners from the rain-delayed Thursday prelim were Chuck Gurney, Wally Pankratz, John Heydenreich and Gordon. The trophy dash win out of the four went to Gordon. The 'B' feature winner was Erfurth.

Gordon set the new eight-lap record in his heat race and also won the final event.

Friday Night Prelim:

Friday heat winners were P.J. Jones, Don Beechler, Mick Pappano and Mike Streicher. Beechler bested the group to win the trophy dash. Dean Franklin took the checkered in the 'B' feature.

Roberts got it together after taking second in the first heat race to win the 'A' feature.

Time Trials Not Run:

Because of the rain delay on Thursday night it was determined by race officials that due to the time involved, the time trials would not be held either night.

The fastest cars on the preliminary nights were allowed to attempt to break the track record Saturday night. Gurney actually broke the record first but before the limelight even had time to warm up, Gordon took it away.

13th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals - 1990
Top 5 finishers:
1. Jeff Gordon
2. Steve Knepper
3. Stan Fox
4. John Heydenreich
5. Chuck Gurney

Reserved tickets for the 24th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals presented by WhoWon.com are available by calling (785) 527-5179, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by logging onto the Belleville High Banks Web site.

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About this article
Series Vintage , Midget
Drivers Jeff Gordon , P.J. Jones , John Heydenreich , Dean Franklin , Steve Knepper