By Tim Tuttle
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (Oct. 6, 2012)—Andrew Felker secured the championship by finishing ninth and Austin Brown drove to his first feature victory in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series on Saturday at Belle-Clair Speedway.
Felker entered the season-ending eighth annual Charlene Meents Memorial needing to take 17th or better to clinch his first POWRi title. The 19-year-old from Carl Junction, Mo., took third in his heat to start ninth in the 22-car feature and drove conservatively in his Fontana-powered Spike. He won the title by 100 points, 3,080-2,980, over runner-up Brett Anderson, the only driver who could have overtaken Felker.
“I’m really at a loss for words,” Felker said. “It hasn’t settled in. We managed to finish it off. The last month and a half has been kind of stressful. We started directly behind Brett and wanted to keep him in our sights, but when he began moving up, we just tried to run as hard as we could and stay out of trouble.”
Anderson of Belleville, Ill., finished second in the Meents.
“We had a fast car,” he said. “I really would have liked to have won the final race driving for my dad (Keith, who is closing down the family-owned team), but it was a good run. Andrew deserves the championship.”
Brown has been a POWRi regular in National Midgets since 2008 and his victory came in his 119th start. The 22-year-old from Millstadt, Ill., had finished second twice previously.
“This is awesome and it came on my home track,” Brown said. “It’s been tough getting the first one. It’s kind of getting a big weight lifted off. We had chances and we didn’t capitalize on them. This feels great.”
Brown started from pole in his Spike-Esslinger and led the opening 15 laps on the one-fifth mile track. But on a restart, Danny Stratton passed him with a slide job in turns three and four.
Brown stayed close to Stratton and regained the lead by overtaking him exiting turn four on the 22nd lap. Brown led from there to the checkered flag in the 30-lap race and won by five car lengths.
“Once Stratton got past me, I got back up on the wheel and ran underneath him,” Brown said. “My car was really hooked up and ran through the bumps down low. It was probably the best out of any of the cars through the bumps.”
Stratton of Brownsburg, Ind., finished third.
Joe B. Miller concluded his championship season in the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series with a feature victory, his second of 2012 and sixth of his career. The 21-year-old from Millersville, Mo., had clinched his first POWRi crown with three races remaining.
Trent Beckinger of Evansville, Ind., was the runaway leader for the opening 13 laps, but he encountered a lapped car entering turn one and flipped his car after hitting the brakes too hard. Miller’s Hyper-Kawasaki had been a solid second and led the final seven laps.
“The car was really good, but we needed a break,” Miller said. “We weren’t looking for one like that, but a win is a win and it’s a nice way to complete our season.”
Cale Thomas, a 14-year-old from Fairland, Ind., finished second, his best finish of an outstanding rookie season in POWRi Micros.
“We’d been third three times,” Thomas said. “It was really fun. The track was really racy.”
Jacob Patton of Bethalto, Ill., finished third for the third POWRi Micro feature in a row and fourth time in the final five.
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series feature results (30 laps): 1. Austin Brown, 2. Brett Anderson, 3. Danny Stratton, 4. Daniel Adler, 5. Dereck King, 6. Dillon Welch, 7. Cameron Hagin, 8. Jake Blackhurst, 9. Andrew Felker, 10. Garrett Aitken, 11. Brad Loyet, 12. Ross Rankine, 13. Jake Neuman, 14. Derrick Myers, 15. Mike Hudson, 16. Kaley Engstrom, 17. Dalton Camfield, 18. Tim Siner, 19. Tony Roney, 20. Bobby Brewer, 21. Matt Ponder, 22. Tyler Thomas.
POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series feature results: (20 laps): 1. Joe B. Miller, 2. Cale Thomas, 3. Jacob Patton, 4. Kurt Westerfield, 5. Jason Harms, 6. Justin Peck, 7. Jeremy Camp, 8. Drew Shiveley, 9. Steven Russell, 10. Michael Bustamante, 11. Corey Nelson, 12. Jeremy Zumwalt, 13. Jimmy Wells, 14. Carson Short, 15. Trent Beckinger, 16. Derek Schuett, 17. Devin Feger, 18. Dereck King, 19. Austin Van Toll, 20. Aaron Andruskevitch, 21. Alec Long, 22. Davey Hamilton Jr.
For more information, go to www.POWRi.com.