From Tim Tuttle
BELLEVILLE, Ill. — (Aug. 10, 2011) — Brad Kuhn took his fifth victory of the season in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series and Joe B. Miller won his first of 2011 with a last-lap pass in the Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series in the 20th annual Arnie Knepper Memorial races Wednesday (Aug. 10) at Belle-Clair Speedway.
Kuhn, driving RW Motorsports’ Beast-Fontana, started on the outside of the front row and led all 30 laps on the 1/5-mile track, finishing four car lengths ahead of Brad Loyet. It was the fifth triumph in the past seven POWRi Midget features for the 30-year-old from Avon, Ind.
“We knew the heat (race) was going to be the key,” Kuhn said. “It’s the characteristic of this place, fast and tight, and if you start at the front, you don’t have to pass anybody and it makes it easy.”
It was Kuhn’s 19th POWRi Midget win, his third in the Knepper Memorial. Kuhn dedicated the victory to legendary engine builder Earl Gaerte, who died Monday.
“He’s an icon of the sport and it’s a big loss,” Kuhn said. “Gaerte doesn’t build Midget engines any more and we’ve (Fontana is a subsidiary of RW Motorsports) been sharing shop space for the last year and a half. Earl was always willing to help us.
“It’s nice to win the Knepper again. Arnie Knepper was a big name in Midgets, especially around here.”
Loyet, winner of the Knepper Memorial in four of the past five years, lined up on the inside of the second row.
“I fell back at the start to fourth,” the 22-year-old from Sunset Hills, Mo., said. “It was tough to pass, there was only one line, on top. I needed lapped traffic and never got it. We (Kuhn, Loyet) were really, really equal.”
Nick Knepper of Belleville, Ill., bounced back from a crash that destroyed his Midget on July 31 to finish third driving his retired father Steve Knepper’s car, which hadn’t been run this season. Nick Knepper was made wheel-to-wheel contact with another car at U.S. 36 Raceway in Cameron, Mo., and went airborne, flipping and landing outside the track. He escaped with bruises and soreness.
“It was a good comeback,” Nick Knepper said. “I needed that to bounce me back into some confidence.”
Miller, a 20-year-old from Millersville, Mo., darted inside of Jacob Patton in Turn One on the 20th and final lap and emerged in the lead out of Turn Two. It was the only lap Miller led. Patton started on pole and was in front for the opening 19.
Miller started on the inside of the fourth row and ran the inside line for 11 laps. He was fifth for a lap 12 restart and decided to go to the outside.
“Spencer (Montgomery) was running the bottom and I couldn’t’ get around him,” Miller said. “Halfway through the race, I had to do something and went to the outside. It was a night-and-day difference. The car was a rocket ship.”
Miller jumped up to second in two laps and was gaining on Patton, who was running the inside. On a lap 18 restart, Patton moved to the outside and when Miller took the white flag, he went inside in Turn One.
“He (Patton) went up to block and I went to the bottom and it just stuck,” Miller said. “I had to block him in Turn Three. He could have taken me out, but he raced me fair.”
Miller’s two previous wins in POWRi Micros were in 2009.
“It’s been a long time,” Miller said. “We’ve been working hard on this car all year and it’s finally coming around. We’ve been close, but tonight was the night we got it right.”
Patton, a 20-year-old from Bethalto, Ill., was going for his second straight victory.
“It’s good to be second, but it’s disappointing to lead 19 laps and not win,” Patton said. “I could hear him (Miller coming) and I went to the top to block his line. We just missed the setup a little bit.”
Montgomery, a 16-year-old from Neoga, Ill., finished third, equaling his POWRi career best finish.
“I started fourth and started working the bottom and fell back to sixth,” Montgomery said. “I finally started passing cars. I’m very happy to be third.”
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series results: 1. Brad Kuhn, 2. Brad Loyet, 3. Nick Knepper, 4. Austin Brown, 5. Derrick Myers, 6. Andrew Felker 7. Mario Clouser, 8. Rich Camfield, 9. Tim Siner, 10. Jake Blackhurst, 11. Tyler Robbins, 12. Don Lehmann, 13. Dave Camfield Jr., 14. Derek Rossio, 15. Danny Frye, 16. Eric Johnson, 17. Darren Kingston, 18. Shane Cockrum, 19. Chett Gehrke, 20. Daniel Adler, 21. Dereck King, 22. Kyle Neal.
POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series results: 1. Joe B. Miller, 2. Jacob Patton, 3. Spencer Montgomery, 4. Trent Beckinger, 5. Matt Ponder, 6. Paul Nienhiser, 7. J.B. Gilbert, 8. Jordan Campbell, 9. Zach Hampton, 10. Natasha Cox, 11. Carlee Gress, 12. Josh Fisher, 13. Heath Ross, 14. Peter Palazzolo, 15. Mike Smallwood II, 16. Mike Obst, 17. Brian Nance, 18. Andrew Felker, 19. Jimmy Stearns, 20. Derek LeMaster, 21. 21. Jordan Gass, 22. Alec Long.
For more information on POWRi Racing, go to www.POWRi.com.