From Tim Tuttle, images courtesy of TWC Photo
GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. (April 29, 2011)—Brett Anderson traded a heartbreaking memory at Valley Speedway from 2008 for a sweet victory Friday in the return visit of the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series to the 1/3-mile track.
Anderson, of Belleville, Ill., was leading by half a straightaway with a few laps remaining in 2008, the only previous event for the POWRi Midgets at Valley Speedway, when a u-joint exploded.
“I was coming out of Turn Two and it went boom,” Anderson remembered. “This (win) helps remove the painful memories from 2008.”
Anderson, driving a Toyota-powered Spike, went on to win the POWRi Midget championship that season, but he’s raced infrequently in it the past two years. The 26-year-old broke his shoulder in a passenger car accident in 2010 and drove in only five events and motor problems in 2009 financially strapped his team, owned by father Keith Anderson, in 2010 and he drove in six events.
“To get a win in the second race of the season is pretty big for us,” Anderson said. “We’re hoping to run all the races and go for the championship this season.”
Brad Kuhn, of Avon, Ind., finished second and Nick Knepper, of Belleville, Ill., was third in the Thunder in the Valley presented by Blue Springs Ford.
Anderson had started from seventh position in the 22-car field for the 30-lap feature. He worked his way up to fourth when the first caution came out on lap 21. Brad Loyet, of Sunset Hills, Mo., was leading followed by Austin Brown, of Millsadt, Ill.
The two straight restarts were halted by contact, the second involving Brown. Anderson moved up to third and passed Kuhn by driving deep into Turn One on the third restart, which began a 10-lap green-flag run to the checkered flag.
Kuhn, the POWRi Midget champion in 2006 and 2009, had been racing Loyet hard for the lead after taking over second place on the 10th lap.
“We had problems on the restart,” Kuhn said. “We think we had a right rear tire seal up. The tire cooled down during those two cautions and it quit working. We’d been racing hard with Loyet and Anderson was sitting in the right position.”
Anderson passed Loyet, the POWRi Midget champion in 2010 and 20007, for the lead on lap 23 entering Turn 3 and led the rest of the way, beating Kuhn by .356 of a second.
Loyet slowed two turns later and dropped out with an engine problem.
Knepper moved up with the retirements of Brown and Loyet.
“I’ll take third considering I had about a fifth place car,” Knepper said. “Austin (Brown) and (Brad) Loyet had bad luck. Up to about lap 15, I thought I had something for them (Loyet, Kuhn), but car lost handling. I made some cockpit adjustments under the caution and got it back to where we were decent.”
Chet Gehrke, of Broken Arrow, Okla., finished fourth and Dereck King, of Vienna, Ill., was fifth.
POWRi’s National Midgets race in their third event of the season Saturday in the Missouri Mid-State Midget Nationals at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo.
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series results: 1. Brett Anderson, 2. Brad Kuhn, 3. Nick Knepper, 4. Chet Gehrke, 5. Dereck King, 6. Zach Daum, 7. Tyler Robbins, 8. Tim Siner, 9. Joe Boyles, 10. Derrick Meyers, 11. Austin Brown, 12. Jimmy Glenn, 13. Daniel Adler, 14. Kenny Brown, 15. J.D. Black, 16. Brad Loyet, 17. Alex Sewell, 18. Will Pierce, 19. Todd McVay, 20. Ted Kirkpatrick, 21. Andrew Felker, 22. Gavin Galbraith.
For more information on POWRi Racing, go to www.POWRi.com.