New Zealand champion Pickens going for 3rd straight win in POWRi National Midgets at Macon

Michael Pickens. - Jan Dunlap Photo

By Tim Tuttle, Jan Dunlap photo

New Zealand‘s Michael Pickens will attempt to take his third straight victory in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series on Saturday (June 18) at Macon (Ill.) Speedway.

Pickens won the POWRi Midget features at Fayette County Speedway in Brownstown, Ill., on June 3 and Peoria (Ill.) Speedway on June 4. He spent last week racing in USAC’s Indiana Midget Week, winning at Kokomo Speedway on Sunday (June 12) and finishing second at Lawrenceburg Speedway on Saturday (June 11).

The 28-year-old is a three-time New Zealand Midget champion and two-time winner of the Australian Speedcar Super Series.

“We’re racing against the best in the world,” two-time POWRi Midget champion Brad Loyet said.

Loyet, of Sunset Hills, Mo., has three victories in eight POWRi features this season. He finished second twice to Pickens.

Nick Knepper, of Belleville, Ill., leads Loyet, 1,380-1,190, in the championship. Knepper has seven top-five finishes including two second places, a trio of thirds and a fourth.

Tim Siner, of Dupo, Ill., is third with 920 points, followed by Chett Gehrke, of Broken Arrow, Okla., with 865 and Brett Anderson, of Belleville, Ill., with 810.

Pickens drives for Australian car owner Jack Berry, who had Pickens’ Esslingler-powered Breka shipped to the USA for the 10-event tour. Pickens’ regular crew is with him, too.

“Having my own car and crew makes a huge difference,” Pickens said. “I’m very comfortable and confident. I don’t have to worry about the car being good because it always is. I can concentrate on driving.”

POWRi’s Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series will also be racing Saturday (June 18) at Macon in the grand finale of the three-event Building Systems of Illinois Mini Sprint Nationals. The feature will have 33 starters and will pay $2,000 to win. The Mini Sprint Nationals begins Thursday (June 16) at Lincoln Speedway and moves to Macon on Friday (June 17).

POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series top-10 points standings (after eight of 30 events): 1. Nick Knepper 1,380, 2. Brad Loyet 1,190, 3. Tim Siner 920, 4. Chett Gehrke 865, 5. Brett Anderson 810, 6. Dereck King 730, 7. Austin Brown 725, 8. Andrew Felker 710, 9. Tyler Robbins 695, 10 Brad Kuhn 460.

POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series 2011 race winners: Du Quoin, Ill.–Tony Roney; Grain Valley, Mo.–Brett Anderson; Wheatland, Mo.–Brad Loyet; Belleville, Ill.–Brad Loyet; Brownstown, Ill.–Michael Pickens; Peoria, Ill.–Michael Pickens; West Plains, Mo.–Tyler Thomas; Springfield, Mo.–Brad Loyet.

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