By Tim Tuttle
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (July 2, 2011)—Brad Kuhn drove to his first feature victory of the season in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series and Andrew Felker won his second feature of the season in the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series in Saturday’s 2nd FanFest presented by Budweiser at Belle-Clair Speedway.
Kuhn, of Avon, Ind., took the lead on the fifth of 30 laps on the 1/5th-mile track and finished five car lengths ahead of second-place Tony Roney, of Herculaneum, Mo., to earn $3,000.
“We’ve had our ups and downs this season,” Kuhn said. “We built new cars over the winter and when we ran a couple of POWRi events early, we weren’t very good. We pulled out one of our old cars from last year and put it together and we’ve had two wins, a third and a fourth. That’s pretty good.”
The POWRi Midget champion in 2006 and 2009 and second last year, Kuhn is driving a partial schedule in the series 2011. Saturday’s victory was his fifth POWRi start this season. Kuhn was third in Friday’s opening event of FanFest. He had been second, sixth and ninth earlier in the season.
Kuhn started on pole and fell back to second behind Chett Gehrke, who started on the outside of the front row. Kuhn wanted to run on the top and decided to patiently wait for a chance to pass Gehrke.
“We live and die on the top,” Kuhn said. “We saw them till and water the track at the top (before the feature) and they got it exactly the way we like to run it. I let Gehrke go at the start.”
Kuhn passed Gerhke in Turns One and Two.
“I got a good run out of Turn Four,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn drove in deep and low into Turn One and was several car lengths ahead when he slid in front of Gerhke in Turn Two. Kuhn began driving away and built up a substantial lead before the first caution with 14 laps completed.
Roney, running the inside line, passed Gehrke on the 17th lap for second. He was never able to mount a serious threat on Kuhn.
“I dedicated myself to the bottom,” the ninth-starting Roney said. “I’ll take second. This is a tough field of cars.”
There were 45 cars trying to make the 22-car starting field Saturday. The Midget event was co-sanctioned by the Stark Automotive Group/Mid-State Equipment Badger Midget Series.
Austin Brown, of Millstadt, Ill., finished third in the Midgets, equaling his season-best finish.
“We were set up for the top, but we saw the Micros and Andrew Felker running the middle and decided to try that,” Brown said. “We were able to gain some ground on the leaders with it. It was a good run for us.”
Felker, of Carl Junction, Mo., dueled Joe B. Miller, of Millersville, Mo., early in the Micros’ 20-lap feature. Felker went from the outside of the second row to the lead on the first lap. Miller, the polesitter, passed Felker for the lead with a move inside in Turn One on the eighth lap. Felker regained the lead by overtaking Miller on the outside on the front straight on the 13th lap and kept it to the checkered flag.
“We didn’t have the gear to go up top and it was pretty slick at the bottom,” Felker said. “The car was good in the middle.”
Felker, who earned $1,000 for his victory, also finished fourth in the Midgets on Saturday and was second in the Micros on Friday. He was fourth or better in the four features at FanFest.
“We’ll take it,” Felker said.
Trent Beckinger, of Evansville, Ind., finished second and Jeremy Camp, of Blue Mound, Ill., was third in the Micros.
Beckinger had started seventh, but running the low line passed Miller for second on the 16th lap.
“Coming from seventh, it was really, really fun,” Beckinger said. “We were fast. At the beginning of the race, everybody was on top and I was on the bottom and keeping up. I figured the bottom would come in and it did. The best we’ve ever finished here before was fifth. This is like a win for us.”
Camp, the 2010 POWRi Micros champion, had his best finish in six POWRi events this season. It’s a transition year for Camp, who is driving a different chassis, Pace, for a new car owner, Chad Bartosik.
“The Pace has been a big learning curve and we’re getting better every week,” Camp said. “We had a good night. We tried a lot of new things. We won a heat. The car was amazing on the top, but we’ve got work to do on the bottom.
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series feature results (30 laps): 1. Brad Kuhn, 2. Tony Roney, 3. Austin Brown, 4. Andrew Felker, 5. Nick Knepper, 6. Chett Gehrke, 7. Mike Hess, 8. Dave Camfield, 9. Thomas Meseraull, 10. Ryan Criswell, 11. Alex Bright, 12. Daniel Adler, 13. Daniel Robinson, 14. Tim Siner, 15. Bryon Walters, 16. Bubba Altig, 17. Danny Fr ye, 18. Hud Cone, 19. Cody Weisensel, 20. Darren Kingston, 21. Tyler Robbins, 22. Brett Anderson.
POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series feature results (20 laps): 1. Andrew Felker, 2. Trent Beckinger, 3. Jeremy Camp, 4. Chris Andrews, 5. Joe B. Miller, 6. Rick King, 7. Spencer Montgomery, 8. Dereck King, 9. Kara King, 10. Natasha Cox, 11. Paul Nienhiser, 12. Jimmy Stearns 13. Jacob Patton, 14. Devin Feger, 15. Ryne Welch, 16. Jake Neuman, 17. Mike Hudson, 18. Alec Long, 19. Kurt Westerfield, 20. Chad Kendall, 21. Ryan Guyett, 22. Kyle Amerson.
For more information on POWRi Racing, go to www.POWRi.com.