By Tim Tuttle
WEST PLAINS, Mo. (June 10, 2011)—Tyler Thomas won the feature in his debut event Friday in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series at West Plains Motor Speedway.
“I’m really excited and shocked at how we did,” Thomas said. “It’s my first race with a full-sized Midget engine.”
The 15-year-old from Collinsville, Okla., won four of six races last season in the Lucas Oil ASCS2 EcoTec Midgets, which have 100 horsepower less than the 300-horsepower Esslinger that he drove in the POWRi event.
“I was looking for a top-10, a top-five,” Thomas said.
Thomas started fifth, on the inside of the third row. Polesitter Tyler Robbins and outside front row starter Nick Knepper were locked in a battle for the lead for the opening seven laps, both running the outside. Thomas passed Knepper on the inside between Turns Three and Four for second on the next lap and Robbins with the same move on the ninth. Thomas led the final 22 laps on the three-eighths mile track.
“I never thought of going to the bottom in Three and Four,” Robbins said. “Tyler found it first.”
“I started on the inside and stuck to the bottom and kept passing cars,” Thomas said.
Knepper, of Belleville, Ill., passed Robbins on the 11th lap and finished second. It was his sixth top-four in seven races this season.
“Tyler ran the bottom so good,” Knepper said. “We’re having a good season, paying the bills, but I’d like to get a victory. We keep having nights where somebody is just a little bit better.”
Robbins, of Collinsville, Ill., was third for his best POWRi Midget finish.
“I’m thrilled to death with third,” he said.
Andrew Felker, of Carl Junction, Mo., finished fourth and Tim Siner, of Dupo, Ill., was fifth.
Triston Tidmore won the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micros feature, the first of his career. Tidmore, a 15-year-old from Hernando, Miss., had raced twice in the POWRi Micros as a 12-year-old and West Plains was his third event.
“It feels great,” Tidmore said. “I won my heat and was hoping for a top-five, a top-three, but to win? Unbelievable.”
Tidmore started fourth and took the lead by passing Chris Andrews on the inside in Turns Three and Four on the third lap following a restart. He led the final 18.
“I went inside in One and Two and kept it down there,” Tidmore said. “I’d decided that if I got the lead, I’d keep it on the bottom.”
Travis Senter Jr., of Osceola, Ark., finished second and Ryan Guyett, of Springfield, Ill., was third in the Micros.
POWRi’s Midgets and Micros race tonight (Saturday) on Springfield (Mo.) Raceway’s quarter-mile. POWRi and the Lucas Oil ASCS2 Outlaws are co-sanctioning the event.
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series results (30 laps): 1. Tyler Thomas, 2. Nick Knepper, 3. Tyler Robbins, 4. Andrew Felker, 5. Tim Siner, 6. Rusty Dukes, 7. Brad Loyet, 8. Ronnie Burke, 9. Kyle Neal, 10. Austin Brown, 11. Brett Anderson, 12. Pat Schudy, 13. Gavin Galbraith, 14. Chett Gehrke, 15. John Campbell, 16. Kenny Brown, 17. Chad Shields, 18. Alex Sewell, 19, Chris Bell, 20. Billy Lawhead.
POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series results (20 laps): 1. Triston Tidmore, 2. Travis Senter, 3. Ryan Guyett, 4. Chris Andrews, 5. Trent Beckinger, 6. Harli White, 7. Joe B. Miller, 8. Paul Nienhiser, 9. Cody Cleaves, 10. Jaccob Patton, 11. Chance Terrel, 12. Jordan Campbell, 13. Kara King, 14. Devon Huff, 15. Henry Gustavus, 16. Andrew Felker, 17. J.B. Gilbert, 18. Jason Hughes, 19. Kevin Horcher, 20. Logan Martin, 21. Will Harvey, 22. Derek LeMaster.
For more information on POWRi Racing, go to www.POWRi.com.