By Tim Tuttle
Andrew Felker of Carl Junction, Mo., leads the championship in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series going into Speedway Motors Midget Money Week presented by RevHoney Energy Drinks, three straight grueling events on Friday (July 27) with the Chad McDaniel Memorial at Solomon Valley Raceway in Beloit, Kan., Saturday (July 28) with the eighth annual Cornhusker Midget Challenge at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb., and Sunday (July 29) at US 36 Raceway in Cameron, Mo.
“I love those tracks,” Felker said. “I wish we’d get out there more often.”
Felker had a rough run caused by motor problems in 2011 in Midget Money Week. The 19-year-old was 24th in the Friday opener at McCool Junction’s three-eighths mile track and didn’t advance to the feature on Saturday. Felker and his crew chief/team owner father Danny Felker scrambled to put together a backup engine for US 36 and salvaged 12th place for a long week of work.
It was that weekend the Felker team decided to switch to Fontana power and they have no regrets.
“We know we’re gong there with a fast and reliable Fontana and a fast car,” Andrew Felker said.
Felker leads Brett Anderson of Belleville, Ill., 2,000-1,650, with 13 events remaining on the schedule. Chett Gehrke, who drives for car owners Skip and Diana Matteson of Salina, Kan., is third with 1,480 points, followed by Tyler Thomas of Collinsville, Okla., with 1,330 and Austin Brown of Millstadt, Ill., with 1,210.
This has been a breakthrough year for Felker, in his fourth POWRi National Midgets campaign. He won his first feature in the series at Peoria (Ill.) Speedway on May 19 and his second at Wilmot (Wis.) Raceway on July 14. Felker has four top-fives and 10 top-10s and has made the feature in all 16 events.
Felker understands Midget Money Week can be pivotal in a championship race. He’s competed in it since 2009, his first season in a Midget. Felker had three top-fives and eight top-10s in 11 events and was leading the points, but 11th and 13th at McCool, 18th at US 36 and 22nd at Butler County Motorplex in Rising City, Neb., took him out of the lead.
“We were sixth or seventh in the points after that week,” Felker said. “But I have a lot more experience now.’
Felker rebounded in 2010 to finish fifth at US 36 and fifth at Butler.
“We know we can run well on the Midget Money Week tracks,” Felker said.
The three events are also part of the inaugural 14-event POWRi Lucas Oil West Series, which Felker leads over Gehrke, 1,030-980. Felker has victories at I-44 Speedway in Oklahoma City in the two stand-alone POWRi West races.
The purses for Midget Money Week are substantial. It pays $5,000 to win at Junction Motor Speedway and $3,000 to win at one-fifth mile Solomon Valley and three-eighths mile US 36.
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series top-10 points standings (after 16 of 29 events); 1. Andrew Felker 2,000, 2. Brett Anderson 1,650, 3. Chett Gehrke 1,480, 4. Tyler Thomas 1,330, 5. Austin Brown 1,210, 6. Jake Blackhurst 1,155, 7. Dillon Welch 1,105, 8. Daniel Robinson 995 9. Cameron Hagin 985, 10. Garrett Aitken 980.
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series 2012 race winners: Kennedale, Texas—Brady Bacon; Kennedale, Texas—Dave Darland; Jacksonville, Ill.—Mario Clouser; Grain Valley, Mo.—Brett Anderson; Wheatland, Mo.—Jake Blackhurst; Macon, Ill.—Zach Daum; Belleville, Ill.—Danny Stratton; Peoria, Ill.—Andrew Felker; Brownstown, Ill.–Brett Anderson; Haubstadt, Ind.—Brady Bacon; Grain Valley, Mo.—Michael Pickens; Springfield, Mo.—Michael Pickens; Lincoln, Ill.—Danny Stratton; Macon, Ill.—Bubba Altig; Wilmot, Wis.—Andrew Felker; Sun Prairie, Wis.—Rico Abreu.
POWRi Lucas Oil West Series top-10 points standings (after 8 of 14 events): 1. Andrew Felker 1,030, 2. Chett Gehrke 980, 3. Chris Bell 890, 4. Tyler Thomas 880, 5. Cameron Hagin 435, 6. Matt Sherrell 425, 7. Garrett Aitken 390, 8. Garrett Hood 140, 9. Darren Kingston 65, 10. Cody Ledger 50.
POWRi Lucas Oil West Series 2012 race winners: Kennedale, Texas—Brady Bacon Kennedale, Texas—Dave Darland; Grain Valley, Mo.: Brett Anderson; Wheatland, Mo.—Jake Blackhurst; Grain Valley, Mo.—Michael Pickens; Springfield, Mo.—Michael Pickens; Oklahoma City—Andrew Felker; Oklahoma City—Andrew Felker.
For more information, go to www.POWRi.com.