Stewart gives Rumble rivals another migraine

Tony Stewart in victory lane after his victory at Rumble in the Expo. - Jan Dunlap Photo

From Ron Ware, Jan Dunlap Photo

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Tony Stewart spent Friday nursing a headache – a regular occurrence, he admitted.
“I have a headache every day,” he said.

Imagine how his competition felt.

The three-time NASCAR champion made a triumphant return to the Rumble in Fort Wayne, easily winning the 50-lap midget feature that capped the opening night of the 14th annual indoor event. Racing on the 1/6-mile track for the first time in three years, he passed Dave Darland on lap 17 and rolled to his eighth victory here in 13 starts before a nearly full house at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center.

Headache or not, there was no hiding his grin.

“It’s exciting to be back,” said Stewart, a 40-year-old native Hoosier who raced in Australia the past two off-seasons. “This isn’t your normal weekly racing. You don’t get many chances to run indoors.

“It’s fun to race (at the Rumble). It’s still a good time. We have lots of things going on in the (Stewart-Haas Racing) shop, so we didn’t get to race sprint cars in Australia this year. If you can’t race sprint cars in Australia, what could be better than to come back here and to do (January’s) Chili Bowl?”

Including a victory earlier in the month in an all-star kart race, Stewart has won seven of his past 12 races overall – including the dramatic 5-for-10 finish to the Sprint Cup season that gave him his third NASCAR championship.

If the likes of Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson couldn’t stop him, did his midget rivals have a chance?

Actually, Stewart said, he figured he would need every trick in the book to pass Darland, the pole-sitter.

Starting third in the 14-car field, Stewart quickly dispatched Jon Stanbrough, then hounded Darland, nudging him in turn two on lap 17. He streaked alongside down the backstretch, then darted inside between turns three and four to wrest the lead.

Kyle Hamilton, a 19-year-old rising star, came on to finish second, five car-lengths back, followed by Stanbrough, David Gough and Joe Liguori. Darland placed 12th after being caught up in an accident.

“I was giving him everything I had,” Stewart said of Darland, who has two wins and 10 top-three finishes in 18 races here. “He’s so good, it’s hard to rattle him. You have to give him some love taps to let him know you’re there.”

Darland, the winner on the second night last season, said his car’s handling went away after about 10 laps.

“Our car just wasn’t good enough to hold him off,” he said.
Hamilton hoped a slippery track would play into his hands, but Stewart masterfully guided his Mike Fedorcak-built Munchkin-Volkswagen home despite having to weave through traffic.
“We started getting some oil on the track that helped me out,” Hamilton said. “He started to get loose at the end. I was hanging in there.

“You think about what could have been, but I’ll take second to Tony.”

Tyler Ross and Lynn Ambrose led all the way in winning the winged outlaw modified midget and mini-sprint features, respectively.

Jason Dunn notched three victories in karts.

Another full day of midget, winged midget, mini-sprint, kart and quarter midget racing is scheduled for Saturday {Dec. 31}, with spectator gates opening at 11 a.m. and the main portion of the program after 6 p.m. Additionally, stuntman Henry “The Pitbull” Rife will attempt a world record indoor jump of 10 cars on an ATV. He crashed on landing last season while attempting the feat, breaking his collarbone.

FRIDAY RESULTS

MIDGETS (National/Ford Focus/Kenyon)

Qualifications – 1. Tony Stewart, 2x, Stewart, 7.830 seconds; 2. Jon Stanbrough, 7, Daugherty, 7.972; 3. Dave Darland, 0, Daugherty, 8.169; 4. Billy Wease, 99, Burrow, 8.179; 5. Jacob Wilson, 10, Moore, 8.251; 6. David Gough, 6, A&G, 8.275; 7. Mike Fedorcak, 97, Stewart, 8.278; 8. Bryan Nuckles, 59, Nuckles, 8.282; 9. Nick Hamilton, 8, Hamilton, 8.286; 10. Mike Wallace, 10, Wallace, 8.297; 11. Brandon Knupp, 78, Chambers, 8.315; 12. Tim Jedrzejek, 8up, Williams, 8.320; 13. Cory Setser, 56, Rencurrel, 8.327; 14. Kyle Hamilton, 33, Hamilton, 8.327; 15. Jim “Timex” Morgan, 2, Afterhours, 8.328; 16. Jim Anderson, 99g, Guess, 8.342; 17. Joe Liguori, 67, Sexton, 8.352; 18. Mike Osite, 20, Fedorcak, 8.375; 19. Taylor Ferns, 55, Ferns, 8.380; 20. Rich Corson, 15, Corson-Savage, 8.427; 21. Donnie Adams Jr., 49, Burrow, 8.466; 22. Rex Norris III, 63, Norris, 8.485; 23. Bobby Santos III, 98, Burrow, 8.501; 24. Matt Westfall, 19, Ryder, 8.540; 25. Cooper Clouse, 14, Clouse, 8.543; 26. Chris Jagger, 27, Jagger, 8.554; 27. Steve Irwin, 0s, Flying Zero, 8.708; 28. Amanda Quinones, 15k, Knupp, 8.852; 29. Dan Dunigan Jr., 19d, Dunigan, 8.897; 30. Terry Ahern, 6t6, Ahern, 9.015; 31. Isaac Chapple, 52, Chapple, 9.070; 32. Eric Shirey, 22, Sexton, 9.135; 33. Deano Lennon, 61, Lennon, 9.262; 34. Joey Burrow, 92, Burrow, 9.464; 35. Zach Fuhrman, 32x, Fuhrman, 9.553; 36. Kevin Shirey, 41, Sexton, 9.575; 37. Tyler Cottongim, 28, Cottongim, 9.700; 38. David Fuhrman, 32, Fuhrman, 9.753; 39. Derek Bischak, 31, Bischak, 11.199; 40. Gary Bradley, 4, Bradley, NT; 41. Chris Neuenschwander, 3, Barnett, NT.

First heat (10 laps) – Stewart, Knupp, Gough, Anderson, Chapple, Jagger, Neuenschwander, K. Shirey, Adams.

Second heat (10 laps) – Jedrzejek, Stanbrough, Liguori, Irwin, Cottongim, E. Shirey, Norris, Fedorcak.
Third heat (10 laps) – Darland, Setser, Santos, Quinones, Osite, Nuckles, Lennon, D. Fuhrman.
Fourth heat (10 laps) – K. Hamilton, Wease, Westfall, N. Hamilton, Ferns, Bischak, Burrow, Dunigan.

Fifth heat (10 laps) – Morgan, Wilson, Corson, Clouse, Ahern, Z. Fuhrman, Wallace.

First semi-feature (12 laps) – Gough, Corson, Neuenschwander, Wallace, E. Shirey, Dunigan, N. Hamilton.

Second semi-feature (12 laps) – Liguori, Anderson, Clouse, Nuckles, Norris, Adams, Ferns, K. Shirey.

Third semi-feature (12 laps) – Santos, Irwin, Fedorcak, Chapple, Lennon, Ahern.

Fourth semi-feature (12 laps) – Westfall, D. Fuhrman, Quinones, Z. Fuhrman, Cottongim, Jagger, Burrow.

Feature (50 laps) – 1. Tony Stewart, 2. Kyle Hamilton, 3. Jon Stanbrough, 4. David Gough, 5. Joe Liguori, 6. Brandon Knupp, 7. Tim Jedrzejek, 8. Cory Setser, 9. Billy Wease, 10. Bobby Santos III, 11. Jacob Wilson, 12. Dave Darland, 13. Matt Westfall, 14. Jim “Timex” Morgan. Lap leaders: Darland 1-16, Stewart 17-50.

WINGED OUTLAW MODIFIED MIDGETS

Qualifications – 1. Ben Quinones, 007, Quinones, 8.134 seconds; 2. Ryan Smith, 22, VanDoren, 8.249; 3. Matt Janisch, 14j, Janisch,8.316; 4. John Ivy, 94, Henry, 8.317; 5. Cap Henry, 04, Henry, 8.407; 6. Erick Rudolph, 32, Rudolph, 8.444; 7. Tyler Ross, 3t, Holmquist, 8.575; 8. Bill Dunham, 84, Dunham, 8.577; 9. Chris Stockham, 44, Stockham, 8.594; 10. Larry Joe Sroufe, 21s, Sroufe, 8.628; 11. A.J. Lesiecki, 14, Lesiecki, 8.772; 12. Clay Sanders, 21, Sanders, 8.778; 13. Randy Brown, 55b, Brown, 8.783; 14. Tim Neil, 19n, Dunigan, 8.790; 15. Ben Taylor, 19, Taylor, 8.795; 16. Brandon Knupp, 20, Chambers, 8.800; 17. Chase Ridenour, 11r, Ridenour, 8.806; 18. Nick Landon, 82, Landon, 8.807; 19. Brian Gerster, 7, Underwood, 8.864; 20. Drew Dorsett, 11b, Bickel-Sager, 8.949; 21. Dan Dunigan Jr., 19d, Dunigan, 8.952; 22. Michael Kettnich, 19k, Kettnich, 8.995; 23. Rusty Strausbaugh, 29, Strausbaugh, 9.003; 24. Jason Ormsby, 51, Ormsby, 9.034; 25. Richard Smith, 12, Smith, 9.052; 26. Mark Zumbrun, 35, Zumbrun, 9.068; 27. Jim “Timex” Morgan, 51m, Ormsby, 9.103; 28. Jeremy Glasford, 14, Glasford, 9.132; 29. Howard McCormick, 26m, Sager, 9.217; 30. Butch Hamilton, 1h, Hamilton, 9.226; 31. Larry Fox, 28, Fox, 9.236; 32. Gary Klein, 68, Klein, 9.238; 33. Steve Shockney Jr., 28s, Shockney, 9.428; 34. Kyle Henry, 51h, Ormsby, 9.434; 35. Nick Eastin, 93, Eastin, 9.446; 36. Ryan Nawrocki, 5n, Reed, 9.733; 37. Steve Myers, 88, Myers, 9.934; 38. Ed Wilberg Sr., 5, Wilberg, 10.380.

First heat (10 laps) – C. Henry, Stockham, Dunigan, Ri. Smith, McCormick, Ridenour, Shockney, Myers, Brown, Quinones.
Second heat (10 laps) – Ry. Smith, Neil, Rudolph, Sroufe, K. Henry, Landon, Zumbrun, Wilberg, Hamilton, Kettnich.

Third heat (10 laps) – Janisch, Ross, Lesiecki, Morgan, Eastin, Strausbaugh, Taylor, Fox, Gerster.

Fourth heat (10 laps) – Ivy, Knupp, Dunham, Glasford, Sanders, Nawrocki, Klein, Ormsby, Dorsett.

First semi-feature (12 laps) – Sroufe, Ridenour, Ormsby, Taylor, Strausbaugh, Sanders, K. Henry.

Second semi-feature (12 laps) – McCormick, Gerster, Glasford, Eastin, Zumbrun, Wilberg, Hamilton, Fox, Kettnich, Landon, Ri. Smith, Shockney, Myers.

Feature (30 laps) – 1. Tyler Ross, 2. John Ivy, 3. Erick Rudolph, 4. Cap Henry, 5. Matt Janisch, 6. Brandon Knupp, 7. Ryan Smith, 8. Larry Joe Sroufe, 9. Jason Ormsby, 10. Bill Dunham, 11. Dan Dunigan Jr., 12. Chase Ridenour, 13. Jeremy Glasford, 14. Brian Gerster, 15. Howard McCormick, 16. A.J. Lesiecki, 17. Tim Neil; 18. Chris Stockham. Lap leaders: Ross 1-30.

MINI-SPRINTS

Qualifications – 1. Lynn Ambrose, 1, Ambrose, 9.041 seconds (establishes track record); 2. Doug Jones, 37, Jones, 9.272; 3. Lynsey Tilton, 74, Tilton, 9.402; 4. Collin Parker, 25, Parker, 9.439; 5. Becca Stiefel, 328, Stiefel, 9.652; 6. Collin Ambrose, 36, Ambrose, 9.671; 7. Ron Coleman, 44, Coleman, 10.093; 8. Gary Bradley, 4, Bradley, 12.631; 9. Kyle McIntosh, 17b, Eaglin, 13.082.

Heat (10 laps) – Parker, Tilton, C. Ambrose, McIntosh, L. Ambrose, Stiefel, Jones, Coleman, Bradley.

Feature (15 laps) – 1. Lynn Ambrose, 2. Lynsey Tilton, 3. Kyle McIntosh, 4. Doug Jones, 5. Becca Stiefel, 6. Ron Coleman, 7. Gary Bradley, 8. Collin Parker, 9. Collin Ambrose. Lap leaders: L. Ambrose 1-15.

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