By Tim Tuttle
POWRi’s Lucas Oil National Midget Series makes its sole journey into Wisconsin this season Saturday (July 16) at Wilmot Raceway and Sunday (July 17) at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie for co-sanctioned events with the Stark Automotive Group/Mid-State Equipment Badger Midget Series.
Season-long leader Nick Knepper has expanded his lead in the POWRi championship over runner-up Brad Loyet to 1,740-1,200, the largest of the season. The Belleville, Ill., driver took a popular hometown victory on July 1 at Belle-Clair Speedway. Knepper’s fifth at Belle-Clair on July 2 was his ninth top-five in 10 features this season. The two-day event was co-sanctioned with Badger.
Andrew Felker jumped five positions to third in the points with 1,070 by finishing second on July 1 and fourth on July 2. The 18-year-old from Carl Junction, Mo., has four straight top-fives and six top-fives in nine races. Felker has bounced back from bad weekend in early June when a blown engine left him 23rd in the feature at Brownstown, Ill., and forced him to miss the event the next night at Peoria, Ill. POWRi drivers can drop two events in determining their final points in the championship, but Felker can’t afford any more like those to contend for the championship.
“The blown motor was a really tough break,” Felker said. “We had a stretch there where we struggled just to finish. We’ve been fast all year and hadn’t been able to catch a break. My dad (crew chief Danny Felker) and I have been working hard to get things figured out on the Midget and the season finally turned around.”
This is Felker’s third season driving a Midget. He was seventh in the POWRi championship in 2010.
“We’re still learning stuff week-to-week on the Midget,” Felker said. “We had some brand new shocks built by KBR at Belle-Clair (July 1-2) and I loved them. They worked extremely well.”
Felker says there’s still enough races, 15, to challenge Knepper for the title.
“We’re going to have to pick up some wins to catch Nick,” Felker said. “Hopefully, we can get up and give him a run for his money at least.”
Felker hasn’t raced at Wilmot, but he’s been to Angell Park and likes it.
“That place is awesome,” Felker said. “It‘s racy, on the edge and will be a heck of a show. We’ve been decent there, competitive, but we‘ve had mechanical problems.”
It will be the fifth event this year co-sanctioned by POWRi and Badger, which is having a 75th Anniversary weekend celebration.
“They’re a great group of guys to run with,” Felker said. “It’s good competition and makes us all better drivers. It makes it harder with that many more good drivers.”
Bubba Altig of Mechanicsburg, Ill., leads the Badger championship over Mike Hess, the POWRi champion in 2005, 466-462. Brad Kuhn of Avon, Ind., has won three of the past four Badger events, including the feature co-sanctioned by POWRi at Belle-Clair on July 2. Kuhn’s other two wins were at Angell Park.
Badger, the oldest Midget organization in the United States, will have a 75th Anniversary reunion Sunday (July 17) from 1-5 p.m. in the Angell Park Pavilion that is open to the public.
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series top-10 points standings (after 10 of 25 events): 1. Nick Knepper 1,740, 2. Brad Loyet 1,200, 3. Andrew Felker 1,070, 4. Chett Gehrke 1,025, 5. Tim Siner 995, 6. Brett Anderson 920, 7. Austin Brown 910, 8. Brad Kuhn 840, 9. Tyler Robbins 785, 10. Dereck King 740.
Stark Automotive Group/Mid-State Equipment Badger Midget Series top-10 points standings (after seven of 17 events): 1. Bubba Altig 466, 2. Mike Hess 462, 3. Brad Kuhn 416, 4. Scott Hatton 275, 5. Daniel Robinson 267, 6. Robbie Ray 233, 7. David Budres 228, 9. Brandon Waelti 224, 10. Davey Ray 205.
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; Belleville, Ill.–Nick Knepper; Belleville, Ill–Brad Kuhn.
For more information on POWRi Racing, go to www.POWRi.com.