By Linda Mansfield
MARION, Ind., Jan. 26 — Approximately 125 people watched as Gas City I-69 Speedway Promoter Jerry Gappens presented checks and trophies to the track’s 2019 champions Saturday night at the quarter-mile dirt oval’s awards banquet at the Eventfully Yours event center here. It was the culmination of a successful season that saw more than $425,000 distributed in prize money at the Grant County motorsports facility.
Thomas Meseraull of Waveland, Ind. was honored as the track’s sprint car champion for 2019, duplicating a feat he achieved in 2010. He won an amazing seven of the 14 regular non-wing sprint car features at Gas City in 2019, equaling a modern-day record. A total of 105 drivers earned points in the division.
“Gas City is home,” said Meseraull, 38, a native of San Jose, Calif. “I’ve done a lot of laps at Gas City. It’s always been good to me. I had a lot of good people behind me.”
The top-five drivers in four divisions received trophies and point-fund money, while those finishing sixth through tenth were recognized with trophies.
Tyler Hewitt of Marion finished second in the final sprint car point standings for 2019 after placing third in 2018. Cole Ketcham of Muncie, Ind. was third in the 2019 final point standings, while Scotty Weir of Marion finished fourth. The 2018 champion, Clinton Boyles of Brownsburg, Ind., placed fifth.
Finishing sixth through tenth were Adam Byrkett of Burnettsville, Ind.; Rookie of the Year Brayden Clark, age 16, of Tipton, Ind.; Anthony D’Alessio of Gas City; Matt Westfall of Pleasant Hill, Ohio and Tim Creech of Indianapolis.
Meseraull used two cars to win the title, and both of his car owners were honored. Six of his victories came in a car fielded by Tom Eades of Sharpsville, Ind., while the other came in a car owned by Don Whitney of Davison, Mich. Engine builder David Stensland of Monroeville, Ind. was also honored as the Engine Builder of the Year.
“Tom [Eades] brought out a nice car and brand-new tires, and from the get-go it was ‘game on;’ I could just hop in the car and go,” Meseraull added.
Scott Orr, 46, of Columbia City, Ind. earned his fourth Gas City modified championship in 2019 and also took the modified car owner championship. Bill Griffith of Van Buren, Ohio was second in the driver standings. Andy Bishop of Gas City, who also earned the track’s street stock championship, finished third in the modified division. Derek Losh of Rensselaer, Ind. placed fourth. Clayton Bryant of Fort Wayne, Ind. finished fifth in the championship and was also the division’s Rookie of the Year.
Jessica Sroufe of Huntington, Ind. was sixth. The champion’s brother, Aaron Orr of Columbia City, placed seventh. Dillon Nusbaum of Warsaw, Ind.; Tony Anderson of Lima, Ohio, and Bub Roberts of Warren, Ind., rounded out the top 10.
Bishop won the street stock championship in the Thompson Trucking No. 14, so the 42-year-old driver was honored with the drivers’ championship trophy in that division and Sam Thompson of Marion took the car owners’ trophy.
“Races are won in the garage,” Bishop said in thanking his car owner and crew. “My job was easy because they did their jobs so well.”
Mike Fincher of Rochester, Ind. finished second in the driver point standings. Larry Persinger of Jonesboro, Ind. was third and he was also the street stock Rookie of the Year. Ron Flaugh of Converse, Ind. finished fourth in the driver standings and Ervin Turner of Marion placed fifth.
Sixth through tenth were David Norman of Poneto, Ind.; Chris Tippit of DeMotte, Ind.; J.J. Nordman of Columbia City; Joey Spiewak of Merrillville, Ind., and Cale Ramey of Muncie.
James Headley Jr., 19, of Wabash, Ind. won the hornet driver championship in a car owned by his father, James Headley of Marion, who also placed fourth in the hornet driver standings. The pair takes delight in beating each other on the track in a true family effort.
Two drivers from Columbia City, Jacob Beard and Randy Brommer, placed second and third. Dustin Franks of Portland, Ind. was fifth behind Headley and won the hornet Rookie of the Year award.
Brad Evans of LaFontaine, Ind.; Joey Eastes Jr. of Fairmont, Ind.; Jesses Arenas of Marion; Stevie Clark of Galveston, Ind. and Donnie Huddleston of Converse, Ind. finished sixth through 10 in the hornet driver point standings.
Eli Kaikko of Indy Racing Images of Noblesville, Ind., was honored with the 2019 Media Award.
The Ambassador of the Year Award went to flagman Mark Orr of Hartford City, Ind. In addition to his flagging duties, he brought the second-biggest marketing partner to the track last year in the United Auto Workers.
Dalton Bishop, 19, of Gas City, Andy’s son, received the Sportsmanship Award for his efforts in organizing a “pass-the-helmet” fund-raising effort to raise money for the burial expenses of a 10-year-old girl from Gas City who was tragically murdered last summer. Those efforts raised nearly $1,000, and the track contributed additional funds too.
The track’s 2020 schedule will be released on Monday and posted on the track’s website at GasCityI69Speedway.com. Fans can also follow it on social media through @GasCitySpeedway on Twitter and Instagram, and GasCitySpeedwayOnTheGas on Facebook.