Third-generation racer Tyler Collins of North Vernon, Ind., has been around racetracks all his life, but he made his first visit ever to Gas City I-69 Speedway Friday night. It was profitable, as he earned $1,000 for winning the 20-lap crate late model feature on the quarter-mile clay oval.
Defending track champion Derek Losh of Rensselaer, Ind., also earned $1,000 after dominating the 20-lap modified feature during the “Summer Thunder” show.
The USAC Midwest Thunder SpeeD2 midget portion of the program attracted 26 entries, and defending series champion Jacob Denney, 16, of Galloway, Ohio came away as the winner of that 25-lap feature after he regained the lead from Chett Gehrke of Bardtown, Ky. on the last lap.
Lee Hobbs of Mitchell, Ind. and James Headley Jr. of Wabash, Ind., led all 15 laps of the street stock and hornet features, respectively, to close out the well-run show that was completed before 11 p.m. despite having five divisions in action.
Crate Late Models
Collins blasted by polesitter Jeremy Creech of Richmond, Ind., in Turn 4 on the first lap and then led the other 19 too to win the crate late model feature over Steve Peeden of Paragon, Ind., who started sixth.
The race was halted by a red flag on lap two for a crash involving two cars that carried the No. 44: one driven by David Fritz of Winamac, Ind., and the other the No. 44M driven by Josh Barrett. Barrett escaped injury but Fritz, 47, reportedly suffered an arm and a head injury. Rescue workers cut off the roof of Fritz’s late model, which is an Impressive chassis with an Albers engine, to extricate him, and he was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital. Further information is not known at this time except that Fritz’s brother told promoter Jerry Gappens that he was responsive with the hospital staff and the evaluation was very positive.
Creech ran in second place until Peeden passed him at the halfway point. Collins had more than a 1-second lead over Peeden on lap 16, but with the help of a restart with 18 laps down Peeden cut Collins’ advantage to 0.607 of a second at the checkered despite having contact with a spinning car early in the race. Jeremy Creech finished third while his son, Blake Creech, also of Richmond, placed fourth. Jace Owens of Monticello, Ind., rounded out the top five.
The winning car is sponsored by Superheat Solutions, S & M Precast, LuLaRoe by Debbie Collins, Tailfeather Farm Market and Right Auto Parts. It is owned by its driver, who is a mechanical engineering technician.
Losh started on the pole and led the entire modified feature to post his third victory of the year at Gas City in the No. 21 Longhorn by Loenbro/Mullins Race Engines sponsored by Superior Sales and Service, R & R Transmission, Aggressive Graphics and Rensselaer Iron and Metal.
Aaron Orr of Columbia City, Ind., started second but got crossed up in Turn 4 with one lap down, and the running order changed dramatically when others had nowhere to go. Dillon Nusbaum, also of Columbia City, vaulted from fourth to second in the skirmish, and he kept close to Losh until the halfway point. Clayton Bryant of Yoder, Ind., spun in Turn 4 with 10 laps down, and although Nusbaum held second through the restart and on lap 11, Bub Roberts of Warren, Ind. slid under him at the end of the backstretch to assume the runner-up spot on lap 12.
Losh was 1.619 seconds ahead of Roberts at the checkered. Nusbaum finished third. Orr held on for fourth and Cole Sink of Fort Wayne, Ind., rounded out the top five.
USAC SpeeD2 Midwest Thunder Midgets
Polesitter Ryan Thomas of Indianapolis led the first lap of the midget feature before Denney charged under him in Turn 3 to take command. Thomas retired on lap 11 while in second place, and Aaron Leffel of Springfield, Ohio jumped from fourth to second on the next lap.
Gehrke, who started ninth, made his first appearance in the top five on lap eight, right before the first yellow flew for Josh Yenser of Hilliard, Ohio and Cory Guingrich of Celina, Ohio after contact in Turn 4. Gehrke moved into third on lap 10, and was trailing only Denney and Leffel when the second caution flew with 15 laps down after the seventh- and eighth-place drivers, Zack Gingerich of Celina, Ohio and Abby Hohlbein of Cloverdale, Ohio, spun in Turn 4.
Denney had good restarts all night and the one with 15 laps down was no exception. Gehrke had a good one too, and passed Leffel for second at that point. Gehrke was then able to pass Denney to lead lap 19, but Denney got the lead back by charging under Gehrke on the backstretch on the next lap.
Another spin by Hohlbein in Turn 4 on lap 23 set up a two-lap dash to the checkered. Gehrke gave it all he had but Denney had a 0.123-second margin of victory over Gehrke at the line in Chuck Taylor’s No. 11T Triple X Ecotech, which is sponsored by Erwin Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram of Troy, Ohio; Fuelab, and Rod End Supply.
Leffel finished third. Yenser came from the 17th starting position after winning the B-main to place fourth, and Stratton Briggs of Anna, Ohio finished fifth.
Hobbs started on the pole of the street stock feature, used the inside groove to fight off Andy Bishop of Gas City into Turn 1, and led all 15 laps for his third Gas City feature victory of the year in his Hobbs chassis No. H0 sponsored by Bilstein Shocks.
Bishop ran second the entire race. He got within 0.233 of a second of Hobbs on lap 12 when the leader had trouble lapping Maygin Collis of Greenfield, Ind., but Hobbs had more than a 1-second lead at the checkered.
Ervin Turner of Marion, Ind., started fifth, ran in fourth place for the first six laps, and finished third. Glenn Bradley of Marion, Ind., placed fourth and Jeffery Jessup of Union City, Ind. rounded out the top five.
Headley Jr. started on the pole of the hornet feature, used the inside groove to shake fellow front-row starter Jeremy Jones of Gas City off on the backstretch on the first lap, and went on to post his fourth feature victory of the year at Gas City.
Brady Hines of Denver, Ind., started third, passed Jones working lap two, set the fastest lap of the race, and chased Headley Jr. the rest of the way. Although Hines was two-tenths and three-tenths behind at times, Headley won by 0.556 of a second with his No. 00, which is sponsored by Dudding’s Heating and Cooling, Shrout Towing and Auto Recycling, Tempstar Heating and Cooling Products, LC Contractors, R & R Transmission and TJR Trucking Co.
Jones held on for third. Sam Wheeler of Peru, Ind., finished fourth and Kaleb Hinkley of Angola, Ind. came from ninth to place fifth.
The race was red-flagged on lap 10 so the fire crew could extinguish a fire in the car of Jeff Young, who had pulled off into the infield. Young wasn’t hurt.
This coming Friday night, Aug. 6, is the “August Jam” show featuring non-wing sprint cars, modifieds, street stocks, hornets, USAC SpeeD2 Midwest Thunder midgets, and a music/dance competition. It’s an important night for the track championships, as double points will be awarded in the sprint, modified, street stock, and hornet divisions.
The pit gate will open at 3 p.m. and the grandstands at 5 p.m. Hot laps are at 6:30 p.m. and the racing starts at 7:30 p.m.
An adult general admission is only $15 and kids 12 and under are free. A pit pass costs $30.
There’s no racing at Gas City on Friday, Aug. 13 so the track staff can prepare for the annual “Night of Destruction” on Saturday, Aug. 14, when monster trucks invade town. A school bus race, a demo derby, a rollover contest, a hornets race and more are planned.
It’s “Double Down” night on Friday, Aug. 20, with twin 21-lap features paying $2,000 to the winners for the Gas City non-wing sprint cars. Full programs for modifieds, street stocks and hornets are also on the card. The following day, Aug. 21, is reserved for the Kenny Wallace Dirt Racing Experience; more info on that is available at DirtRaceWithKenny.com.
The complete 2021 schedule and more information are on the track’s website at GasCityI69Speedway.com. Fans and competitors can also follow it on Twitter: @GasCitySpeedway; Instagram: @GasCitySpeedway and Facebook: GasCitySpeedwayOnTheGas.
Gas City I-69 Speedway is located on State Road 22, approximately a half-mile west of I-69, exit 259. The quarter-mile dirt oval is about halfway between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, and attracts drivers and fans from all over the Midwest.
Gas City PR