Belleville, IL- Minden, Nevada native Tanner Thorson claimed the opening night of Illinois SPEED Week for the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series at Belle-Clair Speedway. Swooping in and stealing the lead on lap nine and never looking back, Thorson chose the long way around and put his Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports entry up on the fence for the win.
Starting inside, second row, Thorson would have to chase down pole-sitter Zach Daum and second place runner Jake Neuman for the initial eight laps. By lap three Thorson would move past Neuman for second and work to reel in Daum. The caution Thorson needed happened in the form of misfortune for teammate Holly Shelton, as Shelton looped her machine off turn four bringing out the initial yellow of the evening. On the restart, Andrew Felker would end up spun in the middle of turns one and two, but Shelton would have nowhere to go and clip a right rear sending her machine into a harrowing set of flips before landing. Shelton would be alright, but done for the night.
Returning to racing, Daum would lead the way, but Thorson slid for the lead entering turn three, with Neuman sneaking past Daum. On lap 17, the caution would slow Thorson’s momentum as Danny Frye came to a stop along the back stretch. Zach Daum would pull off during the caution with damage to the right rear corner of his machine, ending any chances of a challenge against Thorson. Coming back to green, the caution would fly on lap 18 for debris in turn three.
Inheriting the third position, Jason McDougal would have to hold off Spencer Bayston coming back to green. As the duo battled for third, Thorson strung out his lead until the yellow flew again on lap 21, as Brayton Lynch sat off turn two. In turn three, McDougal would come to a stop as a fuel line had worked its way loose, ending his solid top three run.
Returning to racing, Thorson would be untouchable as Neuman crossed the line in second. Spencer Bayston finished third and picked up the Sport City Honda of Jacksonville Hard Charger Award coming from 16th. Darren Hagen took fourth, while Austin Brown finished fifth.
“It was awesome,” said Thorson. “I knew I had to wait a little bit and let this track widen out. I knew I was going to be good. Al and Keith always give me an awesome car every time I go out. They leave it up to me to get the job done. This track was pretty awesome. It always puts on a good race.”
“We were fast all night,” said Neuman. “Tanner was really fast. Daum unfortunately broke, but he was fast too. I can’t thank my dad and everyone for all that they do for me. It’s hard to run this cushion, but it’s my favorite track, always up on the wall and wide open.”
“It was a pretty crazy race,” Bayston said. “I’m glad they tilled it up for the beginning. We were able to work around guys and make the middle work there for a little bit. Then it kind of got treacherous and these guys were really good. I think we were a third place car tonight. Thanks to Sport City Honda for putting up this award for us.”
Speedway Motors Heat Race Winners: Heat 1: 5X – JUSTIN PECK, Heat 2: 11A – ANDREW FELKER, Heat 3: 5D – ZACH DAUM, Heat 4: 27 – TUCKER KLAASMEYER
Semi-Feature Winner: 91T – TYLER THOMAS
Great Clips Feature Winner: 67 – TANNER THORSON
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series Feature Results (30 laps): 1. 67 – TANNER THORSON 2. 3N – JAKE NEUMAN 3. 97 – SPENCER BAYSTON 4. 17 – DARREN HAGEN 5. 27 – TUCKER KLAASMEYER 6. 7 – AUSTIN BROWN 7. 91T – TYLER THOMAS 8. 5X – JUSTIN PECK 9. 32 – GARRETT AITKEN 10. 8GQ – JIMI QUIN 11. 11A – ANDREW FELKER 12. 24 – DAYNE KINGSHOTT 13. 22 – ANDY MALPOCKER 14. 57D – DANIEL ROBINSON 15. 55 – JOE B MILLER 16. 1K – BRAYTON LYNCH 17. 73 – JASON MCDOUGAL 18. 5D – ZACH DAUM 19. 5H – DANNY FRYE 20. 1T – TONY RONEY 21. 5C – COLTEN COTTLE 22. 67K – HOLLY SHELTON
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