Butch Schroeder won the Engine Pro NRA Sprint Invaders ‘Run For the Rabbit’ Travis Miller Memorial at Limaland Motorsports Park(OH). – Mike Campbell Photo
The Annual Run for Rabbit race is one of Limaland’s most popular special events as it honors the memory of Travis “Rabbit” Miller. Miller was unusually enthusiastic about motorsports and left an impression on others that insures this race one of the most popular among the competitors. The 2010 edition brought the Engine Pro NRA Sprint Invaders to the Limaland high-banked ¼ mile and the large crowd enjoyed near perfect conditions for the final day April after and 80 degree day.
Veteran Butch Schroeder had won races in his sprint car career, but never before in 360 sprints at Limaland. Benefitting from an outside front row starting position, Schroeder bolted passed pole sitter Darren Long at the start of the 25 lap feature and ultimately never looked back.
There were three cautions in the first four laps, although none of which affected Schroeder from his front of the pack position. A red flag was waved after the fourth lap when veteran Jarrod Horstman flipped his orange #17 coming through turn four. It was the second straight week Horstman’s week ended with an incident at that spot on the track.
Another caution came on the 9th lap, this time triggered by the Smith Boughan Cool Move of the Race winner from last week, Sheldon Haudenschild. The restart on Lap 9 saw Schroeder ride the cushion and easily hold challenges from Darren Long and defending NRA Sprint Invader champion JR Stewart. A mechanical break sent Long to the pits on lap 15 while heavy smoke was spewing from third-place runner Randy Hannagan’s entry.
Eventually Hannagan was finished on the 19th lap with only Stewart and last weeks Limaland division winner Tim Allison trailing Schroeder. Neither driver seriously threatened the yellow #20, and Schroeder went on the capture his first Run for Rabbit, the NRA season opener, the $2,000 prize and his personal first win in 360 sprints at the historic Limaland facility.
“I tore up some stuff on the car after I tagged the wall during hot laps and had to change a bunch of stuff on our car,” Schroeder told the crowd after his conquest. “But by the time we turned some screws on the thing it was a rocket. I was flat out around there (Limaland ¼ mile).” Schroeder also reflected on the event’s namesake Travis Miller, “I’m a father with two wonderful girls and a wonderful wife. I hope nothing ever happens to me.”
The Budweiser Thunderstock featured looked like it might be Tony Anderson’s for the taking has he took full advantage of an inside row two starting position. A longtime ace in the division, Anderson stormed to the front during the opening lap with pole sitter Zach Bowen the only driver threatening Anderson up front. Caution flags on laps four and five slowed the early race and suddenly a flat right rear tire sent top challenger Zach Bowen to the pit area on lap 8 of the 15 circuit feature.
A wild sequence during the 12th lap nearly cost Anderson the lead and subsequent victory. UNOH student Ryan O’ Dette was damaged and drove his car down the banking while heading for the infield. O’ Dette collided with Anderson, causing significant body damage to the right side of the #22 Texas Roadhouse machine. Another caution with two laps remaining set up Anderson to see if he could hold off Jeff Koz and last week’s feature winner Tim Bowen for the race triumph. Neither driver could rattle Anderson as he piloted his damaged machine to his first win of the year and the 26th of his career at Limaland.
“We try to put on a good show for the fans, let’s remember that everyone up in the stands works hard for their money and I like to see it spent wisely,” said Anderson. “This year in the stock class the guys are really stepping up as there are five, six, seven drivers that are new factors. I look for a lot of different winners this year.”
The K & N Modified 20-lap feature saw former track champion Terry Hull take full advantage of a front row starting slot. The Indiana resident held off challenges from Casey Luedeke and Brian Post for the first eight laps while fellow Hoosier native Todd Sherman was climbing through the field. Another former champ, Sherman moved pass Luedeke and Post by lap 8 and the two Indiana guys moved side-by-side for one of their usual Limaland duels.
Sherman was relentless from the top side and eventually passed Hull on the backstretch during lap 14. A later caution flag, triggered by Chris Puskus in turn two nearly allowed Hull to regain the lead, except scoring froze the field when the yellow flew and Sherman held the top position with two laps left. Hull couldn’t pressure Sherman to any degree through the final two circuits and Todd Sherman made it two straight features wins to begin the new season and marked the 19th of his modified career at Limaland.
“I’m not getting any younger so I figured I better get in the best shape possible now,” Sherman told the crowed when asked about his obvious weight loss during the off season. “Some of the guys really get up on the wheel, so I needed to do the same. I’ve got more room to move my arms around because my belly is not in the way.” Sherman is respected by competitors for his hard work in preparation. “We probably spent twenty hours on the car this week and that was with no damage, just general maintenance stuff.”
Next time out, Limaland Motorsports Park will host the Sunoco American Late Model Series, K & N Modifieds and the Tuff trucks. The Sunoco Late Models are expected to include former Limaland stock and modified champion driver Jeff Babcock. Gates open at 5:00 p.m. with hot laps beginning at 6:30 p.m. Racing starts promptly at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets for the 22nd Annual Brad Doty Classic, July 14, featuring the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, are on sale now. Call the ticket hotline at 419-998-3199. Seating information, plus all the latest news and information about America’s premier quarter-mile dirt track, can be found at www.limaland.com. You can also find 2010 Limaland Motorsports Park on Facebook.
Engine Pro NRA Sprints
Heat 1 – (8 Laps – Top 4 Transfer)
1. 28H-Hud Horton; 2. 7K-Randy Hannagan; 3. 57-Mike Dunlap; 4. 1K-John Kettlewell; 5. 2H-Dallas Hewitt; 6. 4J-Bob Gehr Jr.; 7. 2-Brent Gehr; 8. 2M-Ethan Hoy
Heat 2 – (8 Laps – Top 4 Transfer)
1. 6S-Jr Stewart; 2. 35-Ron Blair; 3. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild; 4. 34-Luke Hall; 5. 1W-Kent Wolters; 6. 23-Ben Rutan; 7. 6Z-Zach Ames; 8. 32M-Derek Hastings
Heat 3 – (8 Laps – Top 4 Transfer)
1. B20-Butch Schroeder; 2. 11-Tim Allison; 3. 17-Jared Horstman; 4. OO-Ryan Grubaugh; 5. 10-Pete Ischi; 6. 38-Aaron Smith; 7. 4B-Andrew Bowsher; 8. 26-Ryan French
Heat 4 – (8 Laps – Top 4 Transfer)
1. 3G-Darren Long; 2. 6-Mike Dussel; 3. 18-Todd Heuerman; 4. 22D-Dennis Yoakam; 5. 10J-Jarrod Delong; 6. 5W-Jeff Williams; 7. 24-Jermey Keegan; 8. 48-Tommy Kerce
B-Main – (10 Laps – Top 4 Transfer)
1. 1W-Kent Wolters; 2. 2H-Dallas Hewitt; 3. 23-Ben Rutan; 4. 6Z-Zach Ames; 5. 10-Pete Ischi; 6. 5W-Jeff Williams; 7. 10J-Jarrod Delong; 8. 4J-Bob Gehr Jr.; 9. 38-Aaron Smith; 10. 4B-Andrew Bowsher; 11. 26-Ryan French; 12. 32M-Derek Hastings; 13. 48-Tommy Kerce; 14. 24-Jermey Keegan; 15. 2-Brent Gehr; 16. 2M-Ethan Hoy
A-Main – (25 Laps) [#]-Starting Position
1. B20-Butch Schroeder; 2. 6S-Jr Stewart; 3. 11-Tim Allison; 4. 6-Mike Dussel; 5. 28H-Hud Horton; 6. 18-Todd Heuerman; 7. 22D-Dennis Yoakam; 8. 35-Ron Blair; 9. 57-Mike Dunlap; 10. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild; 11. 7K-Randy Hannagan; 12. 3G-Darren Long; 13. 34-Luke Hall; 14. 2H-Dallas Hewitt; 15. OO-Ryan Grubaugh; 16. 23-Ben Rutan; 17. 1K-John Kettlewell; 18. 17-Jared Horstman; 19. 1W-Kent Wolters; 20. 6Z-Zach Ames