By Lonnie Wheatley
FAIRBURY, Neb. (August 2, 2016) – The Road to Belleville got off to a rousing start with Chad Boat besting a field of 33 entries for his first career USAC National Midget triumph in the “Riverside Chevrolet Tuesday Night Thunder presented by Fairbury Foods and Schmidt’s Sanitation” 35-lap main event atop the 1/5-mile Jefferson County Speedway.
The voyage to victory lane aboard the Speedway Toyota-powered Tucker-Boat Motorsports Pristineauction.com No. 84 Spike was anything but smooth sailing for the Phoenix, Ariz., native though after taking the lead away from Spencer Bayston at the midway point and then fending off Tyler Thomas over the closing rounds to seal the deal on a Tuesday night before a packed house.
“I was kinda committed to the top but then Tyler showed me the bottom,” Boat said of the race’s closing laps. “I decided to go down there and make them beat me on the top.”
While Boat bested the Midget ranks, Frank Galusha earned “Tuesday Night Thunder” honors as well by topping a field of 37 JayHusker Non-Wing Micro Sprints.
While Boat gridded the USAC Midget feature outside the third row, it was pole starter Holly Shelton leading the way for the opening four rounds before fellow front row starter and Keith Kunz Racing teammate Spencer Bayston took command.
With Bayston at the point, a determined Boat slid past Thomas for second a dozen laps in and then forced his way around Bayston for the lead five laps later with Thomas working his way past Bayston as well soon after.
With heavy traffic in play over the course of a frenzied green flag run of more than 20 laps after a lap two caution, Boat kept Thomas at bay with Bayston, fast-timer Brady Bacon and Bryan Clauson from 13th all in the lead mix as well until the yellow lights finally flickered after 24 laps for a multi-car tangle in turn three.
“It was dicey but it was fun,” Boat said of the frantic race through traffic.
Thomas went to work on Boat on the restart, with Boat sensing the challenge on the low side and moving down to take Thomas’ line away before the red flag flew with just six laps to go for Ryan Greth’s tumble down the frontstretch. Greth had held down a top five position until being collected in the caution five laps prior.
Back under way, Boat fought off his challengers over the final half dozen laps to secure the victory with Collinsville, OK, shoe Thomas settling for runner-up honors. “I was struggling a little bit with three and four,” Thomas commented. “I couldn’t quite get the angle I needed to make a run off the bottom of four, otherwise I think we might have had a shot at it.”
Clauson raced around Bayston for third on the lap 30 restart only to surrender the show position to Bacon on the white flag after swapping the position a pair of times. With Broken Arrow, Oklahoma native Bacon in third, Clauson settled for fourth with Bayston rounding out the top five.
Series: USAC National Midgets
Track: Jefferson County Speedway (Fairbury, NE)
Car Count: 37
Quick Time: Brady Bacon (11.354 seconds)
Qualifying Moments: The 15th car to hit the track, Boat set the standard at 11.457 seconds until 30th qualifier Bacon topped it; Clauson had troubles and came out at the end for one lap that netted 13th; Casey Shuman never could get the Dunlap entry to fire properly and Jeff Crook didn’t get his mount lit up until after qualifying.
Heat Winners (starting position in parentheses): Bryan Clauson (3), Tucker Klaasmeyer (4), Ryan Greth (6), Tyler Thomas (6).
Heat Moments: Clauson went from third to first on the opening lap of the first heat while a lap seven Bacon bobble allowed Thorson to take the final transfer; Klaasmeyer went second row to first on the opening lap of heat two and then protected the low line after sensing Bayston surges; A front-row Weland-Lynch logjam held up the pack for a handful of laps before Lynch lost power in heat three, Greth worked to the front with Gehrke denying Robinson the final transfer on the last lap; Thomas rallies from sixth to win the final heat.
“B” Main Winner (starting position in parentheses): Brady Bacon (1).
“B” Main Moments: After a couple of early cautions, Ryan Oerter spins to the infield while trying to chase down Jeff Stasa for the final transfer and then John Klabunde holds on over the final lap when his engine sours to hold off Troy Simpson.
Best Supporting Role: Frank Galusha earns it with the JayHusker Non-Wing Micro Sprint win.
“A” Main Cautions: Three
2 Laps – Tanner Thorson spins it in turn four and will rejoin at the tail.
24 Laps – Contact in turn three sends Terry Goodwin into a spin that collects fellow lappers Bob Harr and Lance Bennett along with fifth-runner Ryan Greth. Seventh-runner Dave Darland comes to a stop under caution and is done for the night.
29 Laps – It goes from bad to worse for Pennsylvania’s Greth when he goes for a wild ride down the frontstretch. He was uninjured.
Hard Charger: Bryan Clauson rebounds from qualifying issues to rally from 13th to fourth.
The Assists: Along with “Tuesday Night Thunder” title sponsor Riverside Chevrolet and presenting sponsor Fairbury Foods and Schmidt’s Sanitation, other sponsors that made the event possible included Budweiser, ZFour Trucking, Starr Plumbing, Big Bamboo Studios, Pollman Appliances, Vaughn Contracting, Rod End Supply, Precise Racing, EMI, Factor 1 Racing, Keizer Wheels, Schoenfeld Headers, Napa Auto Parts, Fairbury Chamber of Commerce, Ole Red 99.5, Chapple Roofing and Spike Chassis.
The Box Score…
QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Brady Bacon, 76m, FMR-11.354; 2. Chad Boat, 84, Tucker/Boat-11.457; 3. Ryan Greth, 4, Lesher-11.479; 4. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-11.514; 5. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-11.581; 6. Spencer Bayston, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-11.586; 7. Ryan Robinson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-11.631; 8. Holly Shelton, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-11.687; 9. Carson Macedo, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-11.702; 10. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 27, Klaasmeyer-11.718; 11. Dave Darland, 11AG, Gray-11.745; 12. Keith Rauch, 47, Mason-11.819; 13. Bryan Clauson, 63, Dooling/Hayward-11.911; 14. Matt Johnson, 85, Central-11.929; 15. Chett Gehrke, 11c, Matteson-11.948; 16. Bob Harr, 2, Halarr-11.989; 17. Anton Hernandez, 25, Petry/Goff-11.994; 18. John Klabunde, 77, Klabunde-12.054; 19. Brayton Lynch, 1K, RKR-12.137; 20. Lance Bennett, 10, McCauley-12.138; 21. Troy Simpson, 7, Simpson-12.332; 22. Terry Goodwin, 2G, Goodwin-12.443; 23. Dustin Weland, 88, Weland-12.503; 24. Ryan Oerter, 43, RKO-12.510; 25. Jeff Stasa, 91, SBR-12.578; 26. Johnny Murdock, 0, Zero-12.647; 27. Derek Kral, 0B, Zero-12.923; 28. Tyler Dunkle, 37, Zero-13.212; 29. Nathan Johnson, 13, Zero-13.254; 30. Mark Hamilton, 76, Hamilton-16.499; 31. Casey Shuman, 32, Dunlap-NT; 32. Jeff Crook, 5J, Crook-NT; 33. Ashley Oerter, 16, RKO-NT (Time of 14.082 disallowed).
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Clauson, 2. Macedo, 3. Hernandez, 4. Thorson, 5. Bacon, 6. Simpson, 7. Stasa, 8. N. Johnson, 9. A. Oerter. 2:00.76
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Klaasmeyer, 2. Bayston, 3. Boat, 4. Goodwin, 5. Murdock, 6. M. Johnson, 7. Klabunde. NT
BENIC ENTERPRISES THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Greth, 2. Darland, 3. Weland, 4. Gehrke, 5. Robinson, 6. Kral, 7. Lynch. NT
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Thomas, 2. Shelton, 3. Rauch, 4. Harr, 5. R. Oerter, 6. Bennett, 7. Dunkle, 8. Crook. 2:00.58
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Bacon, 2. Robinson, 3. Lynch, 4. Bennett, 5. Stasa, 6. Klabunde, 7. Simpson, 8. Kral, 9. N. Johnson, 10. A. Oerter, 11. R. Oerter, 12. Dunkle, 13. Murdock. NT
FEATURE: (35 laps) 1. Chad Boat (6), 2. Tyler Thomas (4), 3. Brady Bacon (7), 4. Bryan Clauson (13), 5. Spencer Bayston (2), 6. Carson Macedo (9), 7. Tucker Klaasmeyer (10), 8. Holly Shelton (1), 9. Ryan Robinson (8), 10. Tanner Thorson (3), 11. Brayton Lynch (18), 12. Chett Gehrke (14), 13. Keith Rauch (12), 14. Lance Bennett (19), 15. Bob Harr (15), 16. John Klabunde (17), 17. Dustin Weland (21), 18. Terry Goodwin (20), 19. Ryan Greth (5), 20. Dave Darland (11), 21. Anton Hernandez (16), 22. Jeff Stasa (22). NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-4 Shelton, Laps 5-16 Bayston, Laps 17-35 Boat.