Steve Irwin Wins at Gas City

Steve Irwin. (Bill Miller photo)

GAS CITY, Ind., July 7 — The pits and the grandstand were as packed as a boardwalk, and the action and some tempers were as hot as the sand at the seashore during the “Beach Theme Night/Summer Thunder” show Friday night at Gas City I-69 Speedway. Five divisions shared the card, and some unusual circumstances generated some new winners. One of them was Steve Irwin of Fenton, Mich., who won the 25-lap non-wing sprint car feature after an incident between the leader, Shane Cottle, and the driver who was second at the time, Clinton Boyles.

Landon Simon won the 20-lap midget feature, while Todd Kirkman won the 15-lap 600cc winged micro-sprints main event. Jim Mallery was victorious in the 20-lap UMP modified feature, and Jami Cale came from deep in the pack to win the 15-lap super street feature after another controversial incident between the leader, Randy Lines, and the driver who had led most of the race and was trying to regain that lead, Terry Sroufe.

The 25-lap sprint feature had as much drama as a steamy beach paperback. First there was a complete restart after Kyle Simon, Jamie Frederickson and Kyle Robbins tangled in Turn 4, with Simon flipping. Luckily he was unhurt. Boyles, who started on the pole and is the point leader, led the first lap but then dropped to third after he did a 360-degree spin on the backstretch with one lap down. It didn’t bring out a yellow but it gave the lead to Cottle, who had started second and is second in the point standings.

Cottle dominated the race, building up a sizeable lead over Jacob Gordon and then Boyles, who passed Gordon for second and brought Irwin along with him into third a few car lengths back on lap six. Despite three more cautions that tightened up the field and allowed Boyles to draw close on restarts, Cottle had things well in hand, building up a sizeable lead over Boyles each time.

It all came to a screeching halt with 21 laps down, however, as there was an incident between Boyles and Cottle between Turns 1 and 2 and Cottle spun. As far as Cottle was concerned it was too similar to another incident between he and Boyles on June 8 in which Cottle flipped on the backstretch, and as Cottle’s car left the track on the back of a wrecker and the field circled under yellow, Cottle expressed his anger towards Boyles. Boyles saw the incident completely differently and felt unjustly accused, but he was penalized, went to the rear, and finished tenth. Cottle was credited with 14th.

All Irwin had to do was hold on for four more laps, which the 2017 SOD champion did to become the sixth different non-wing sprint car feature winner at Gas City this season with his Flying Zero, earning his first non-wing sprint feature victory in the Hoosier state. Adam Byrkett finished second, Kayeleb Bolton came from 20th to third, Travis Hery placed fourth and an Aussie who was making his first start ever in America and in a non-wing sprint car, Braydan Willmington, used the high groove to place fifth.

Landon Simon, who had engine problems in the sprint car feature, led all 20 laps of the midget feature from the pole with his “Make the Switch — Mt. Baker Vapor” No. 24. Chris Baue, who started second, finished in that position. Scott Orr, Jeff Beasley and Zach Hampton rounded out the top five.

Twenty-seven 600cc winged micro sprint drivers signed in for their portion of the show. Polesitter Todd Kirkman led all 15 laps of their feature to put this No. 2K sponsored by EX3 Racing Classics and Dr. Harmon Optometry into victory lane. Austin Nigh, Blane Culp, Jordan Welch and Alexis Adgate trailed him at the line.

Polesitter Jim Mallery led all 20 laps of the UMP modified feature despite four yellows that allowed his rivals to close up on his No. 8, which is sponsored by Sherman Enterprises and Stapleton Architectural Stone. Daniel Russell passed Andy Bishop on lap eight to earn the runner-up honors. Bub Robert finished third, Dillon Nusbaum placed fourth and Bishop held on for fifth.

Jami Cale started ninth in the 17-car field for the 15-lap super street feature but won over Jeremy Creech, who started even further back. James Headley, Ron Flaugh and Terry Sroufe rounded out the top five.

Sroufe, the polesitter, led the first 12 laps before Randy Lines ducked under him coming out of Turn 4 on lap 13 after a restart. A few seconds later the driver who was fourth, Jeff Matheny, spun in Turn 1 to bring out another caution, which as it turned out spurred on several more. One of the spinners was Sroufe, who spun in Turn 4 working lap 14 while trying to retake the lead from Lines. He restarted at the rear and so did Lines, who was penalized for his role in Sroufe’s misfortune. That gave the lead to Cale, who only led the last two laps, including the only one that paid money.

Intermission featured an exhibition by the Midwest Oldtimers Vintage Race Club and a beach ball game for the kids.

There are six more shows scheduled for the track this year. There is only one more show in July: the Mid-Season Showdown on July 13 featuring non-wing sprints, UMP modifieds, thunder cars and FWD compacts.

The track will present three big shows featuring various divisions in August on Aug. 3, Aug. 17 and Aug. 31.

The USAC AMSOIL national sprint cars and the USSA Kenyon midgets visit Gas City on Sept. 7 in a card that includes three additional divisions, and the season concludes on Sept. 28 with the James Dean Classic.

For details on each program, please see the track’s schedule on its Web site at Fans can also follow it on Facebook (@GasCitySpeedwayOnTheGas), Twitter (@GasCitySpeedway) and Instagram (@GasCitySpeedway).

The results:

Non-Wing Sprint Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. Shane Cottle, 2. Clinton Boyles, 3. Adam Byrkett, 4. Landon Simon, 5. Kyle Robbins, 6. Aaron Davis, 7. Jack James.

Non-Wing Sprint Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. Steve Irwin, 2. Braydan Willmington, 3. Daylan Chambers, 4. Kyle Simon, 5. Tyler Hewitt, 6. Evan Mosley, 7. Kayeleb Bolton.

Non-Wing Sprint Heat 3 (8 laps): 1. Jay Waugh, 2. Jacob Gordon, 3. Jamie Fredrickson, 4. Travis Hery, 5. Parker Fredrickson, 6. Bryar Schroeter, 7. Luke Harbison.

Non-Wing Sprint Feature (25 laps): 1. Steve Irwin, 2. Adam Byrkett, 3. Kayeleb Bolton, 4. Travis Hery, 5. Braydan Willmington, 6. Evan Mosley, 7. Tyler Hewitt, 8. Kyle Robbins, 9. Jacob Gordon, 10. Clinton Boyles, 11. Bryar Schroeter, 12. Jay Waugh, 13. Jack James, 14. Shane Cottle, 15. Aaron Davis, 16. Landon Simon, 17. Luke Harbison, 18. Daylan Chambers, 19. Parker Fredrickson, 20. Jamie Fredrickson, 21. Kyle Simon.

Midget Heat (8 laps): 1. Landon Simon, 2. Chris Baue, 3. Zach Hampton, 4. Logan Arnold, 5. Nick Speidel, 6. Jeff Beasley, 7. Scott Orr, 8. Brian Paulus.

Midget Feature (20 laps): 1. Landon Simon, 2. Chris Baue, 3. Scott Orr, 4. Jeff Beasley, 5. Zach Hampton, 6. Logan Arnold, 7. Nick Speidel, 8. Brian Paulus (DNS).