From Tim Tuttle
Erin Crocker, the first woman to win a feature in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, will make her debut in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series in the Ford EcoBoost Challenge Weekend at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway on Friday (June 28) and Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind., on Saturday (June 29).
Crocker’s win in the WoO feature at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif., in 2004 became a springboard for her to drive stock cars in 27 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, 25 ARCA presented by Menards and 10 Nationwide Series races from 2005 to 2007. In 2009, the 32-year-old native of Wilbraham, Mass., returned to WoO Sprint Cars to run partial seasons. She was 18th in the feature of the famed 410 Sprint Car Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals in 2010, the event where she became the first woman to reach the A-main and was Rookie of the Year in 2003.
Crocker has driven in one Midget event in her career, finishing 10th in the E main in the 2003 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Okla., and her interest in Midgets was sparked by a visit to the famed event last January.
“I went to the Chili Bowl and as soon as I was at the race with all the excitement, I immediately wanted to be a part of it—it is in my DNA,” Crocker explained. “Bryan Clauson, who is a Midget racer, and Tim Clauson, who is my car owner, also convinced me to sit in a Midget when I was at the race and once I did that, it was over. As soon as I got back from the race, I started making plans to get back in racing.”
Crocker was able to put together a deal with support from WIX Filters for six regular season events in the POWRi National Midget plus POWRi’s non-points, Battle at the Center at the Southern Illinois Center’s Mini Magic Mile at Du Quoin, Ill., on Dec. 7 and the famed Chili Bowl from Jan. 14-18, 2014.
“I am thrilled to get back in the driver’s seat with the Team WIX program that embraces the American tradition of grassroots racing,” Crocker said. “I grew up at local, small-town dirt tracks where my love for racing began. Racing is part of my DNA and when I spend time at the racetrack, my passion for racing is renewed. Partnering with Team WIX allows me to focus on my racing roots and get back to what I love.
“I’m looking forward to the feeling of being back behind the wheel with the pedal to the floor and the smell of methanol fumes and just the adrenaline of racing competition. It almost doesn’t feel right when I’m not racing, which is why I’ve come in and out of retirement a few times—and I’m only 32. There is no better sense of accomplishment than coming off a feature event knowing you’ve driven the wheels off the car.”
Crocker began racing quarter midgets at age seven and she won the Quarter Midgets of America Northeast Regional Champion award from 1993-96. She also won in Micro Sprints and then jumped to the 1,200-horsepower, 900-pound winged WoO Sprint cars.
“I don’t have a ton of experience racing Midgets,” Crocker said. “I have a lot of dirt, Sprint car experience with a wing on top, so it will take time getting used to driving without a wing on the car. The horsepower (about 360 for a Midget) won’t be anything too crazy for me because it is a little less than Sprint cars.”
Andrew Felker of Carl Junction, Mo., leads Zach Daum of Pocahontas, Ill., by 360 points, 1,280-920, going into Bloomington, the ninth POWRi National Midget event of the season. Tyler Thomas of Collinsville, Okla., is third with 820, Jake Blackhurst of Mapleton, Ill., fourth with 820 and Brad Kuhn of Avon, Ind., fifth with 690.
POWRi’s Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series is also racing on the quarter-mile tracks at Bloomington and Tri-State in the Ford EcoBoost Challenge Weekend. Cale Thomas of Fairland, Ind., has an 890-850 advantage in the points over Nathan Benson of Concordia, Mo., and Jeremy Camp of Blue Mound, Ill., is third with 830 going into Bloomington, the seventh race of the season.
MAVTV American Real will broadcast the Bloomington and Tri-State events, including the track’s Sprint Car races, on a date in July to be determined.
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series top-10 points standings (after eight of 31) events: 1. Andrew Felker 1,280, 2. Zach Daum 920, 3. Tyler Thomas 820, 4. Jake Blackhurst 750, 5. Brad Kuhn 690, 6. Austin Brown 595, 7. Terry Babb 385, 8. Shane Cockrum 310, 9. Justin Peck 300, 10. Tyler Robbins 290.
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series feature winners: Jacksonville, Ill.—Shane Cockrum; Belleville, Ill.—Chris Bell; Macon, Ill.—Brady Bacon; Sun Prairie, Wis.—Michael Pickens; Jacksonville, Ill.—Kyle Larson; Lincoln, Ill.—Michael Pickens; Macon, Ill.—Andrew Felker; Sun Prairie, Wis.—Rico Abreu.