2009 in Review Part 6: All Star Circuit of Champions roll through the West

From Kelly Brown

With the Thanksgiving Holiday a little over a week away it is hard to believe that just four months ago the O’Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions were getting ready to head West. Not only were they preparing for a series of racing events that would take them across the Great Plains, but they were also getting ready for five consecutive nights of electrifying racing action as it was time for “Thunder through the Plains.”

A Hurricane in the Plains?

First up was US 36 Raceway in Cameron, Missouri. When the racing action commenced it was Tim Shaffer and Brandon Wimmer starting from the front row. As the two barreled into Turn 1 Shaffer took the lead with Wimmer tucking in behind him. Shaffer set sail pulling out to a sizable lead. By Lap 19 Shaffer that put all but the top-six running cars a lap down, but that is when disaster struck. On Lap 20, Shaffer was attempting to put yet another car a lap down, but Shaffer tangled with the traffic. What appeared to be an innocent spin going into Turn 1, quickly took a turn for the worse as Shaffer would see his night end on his wing. As a result second place running Greg Wilson inherited the lead. When the Green Flag was unfurled Wilson retained the lead, but not for long. Randy Hannagan who had been battling him the whole night tried the top line and then the bottom trying to find a way around Wilson. It did not take long as on Lap 23 Hannagan blew past Wilson and into the top spot then drove as fast and furious as is nickname insinuates. At the drop of the Checkered Flag it was Hannagan picking up his first All Star Circuit of Champions win of the season and his seventh career All Star win. He was followed to the line by Wilson, Tony Bruce, Wimmer and the 9x of Gary Wright who was the hard charger of the night after starting the main event in the eighteenth position.

Bellville High Banks see plenty of Thunder

On a night that would see records fall on the famed high banks of Belleville, Kerry Madsen did not walk away from the night with his name on a speed record, but he would walk away with the big prize. When the initial Green Flag flew on the main event Randy Hannagan and Terry McCarl battled for the lead. Coming off of Turn 4 running the high line, McCarl would grab the lead for a split second before the first caution flag of the night came out for Shane Stewart, who came to a stop in Turn 3 with mechanical woes. This would set up a complete restart. This time McCarl would grab the lead again from pole sitter Hannagan. By Lap 2 Kerry Madsen had made his way from his sixth place starting spot to pass the 1x for the second position. On Lap 13, Madsen had his eye on the top spot. He sized up McCarl and dove under him going into Turn 1. McCarl would counter on the bottom side of the track leading down the back stretch, but Madsen would take another shot on the high side in Turn 3. This time “The Madman” would make the pass stick to lead on the 14th circuit of the oval. At the front Madsen had stretched out his lead in lapped traffic. With the laps in the event winding down Kaeding would run out of circuits on his quest to capture the second position. At the Checkered Flag it would be Madsen picking up the win with McCarl, Kaeding, Hannagan and Droud finishing in the top-5.

Night three is when the real “thunder” would catch up with the All Stars. The O’Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions were able to get half of the show in before the storms moved with drenching rains. The race was called as it was with heat and show up points along with prize money being awarded to the O’Reilly Circuit of Champions drivers and teams. This race was not made up.

Hot nights at Husets

Night four took the Green Flag at Husets and when racing action commenced Scott Winters got the jump over pole sitter Gary Wright and jetted out into the early lead. Wright, Tim Shaffer, and Tim Kaeding would fall in line. Winters got a jump on Wright and continued to pull out a sizable lead over the rest of the field. The battle at this point of the event was for the fourth position. Shaffer had it and Sam Hafertepe Jr. was on his bumper. Hafertepe would jump to his inside to pick up the four spot. With 12 laps to go the 9x of Wright would catch up to Winters to challenge for the lead, but Winters would hold on. Wright would size up Winters again, but just as it appeared Wright had the position a lapped car would get out of shape. Wright and Winters would get off the throttle to avoid the car that almost looped it around, but saved it. This would allow Winters to hold on to the lead and drive off to the win. At the finish line it was Winters picking up his first O’Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions victory with a commanding lead. Wright would go on to finish second with Hafertepe, Bruce and Shaffer rounding out the Top-5.

On the last night of the marathon event of Thunder through the Plains there was not only a storm of action going on at Husets Speedway, but there was also a storm approaching the track creating almost as much thunder and lightning in the sky as the drivers of the O’Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions did on the track. When the Green Flag was unfurled it was outside pole sitter Terry McCarl who breezed past Tim Shaffer into the lead. In the early laps of the event there were several breaks in the racing action. McCarl led the field to the final green of the event with Shaffer in second and Hafertepe who had slid his way into the top-3. McCarl retained his lead and had the field covered until he started encountering lapped traffic which set up a finish that brought the crowd out of their seats.
When the White Flag was unfurled Shaffer had closed on McCarl and as they passed the start finish line Shaffer pulled to the inside of McCarl to execute the pass. McCarl would block his first attempt. While those two battled it allowed Hafertepe to close on the two. On the last turn of the last lap Shaffer sized up McCarl and made his final bid for the win. As Shaffer pulled to McCarl’s inside Hafertepe threaded the needle going between the two. At the finish line it was McCarl picking up the win with Hafertepe barely beating Shaffer to the line. Tim Kaeding and Gary Bakker would round out the top-five.

After Thunder through the Plains the All Stars would remain out West for another historic event: the inaugural running of the Ironman 55. August would end with another heat filled race in Iowa. Who would emerge as the hottest driver at the end of the month of August? Stay tuned as the O’Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions look back on another fast and furious season of racing action.

For the most up to date information on the All Star Circuit of Champions, bookmark www.allstarsprint.com on your computer.